Earlier in the year, I found out that the Lyric Opera of Chicago puts on one of the operas of the season as a matinee for students and offers the tickets at the low rate of $8.00-$15.00. I thought it would be a neat experience for my students, but then I quickly thought again... in a perfect world, i'd take my students and they'd develop some newfound appreciation for opera. haha if someone had taken me to an opera in high school, i probably would have hated it forever. [Actually, my mom and I went to see Porgy and Bess last year at the lyric. It was beautiful. I could appreciate it because I studied opera in college. But, when it came down to staying for the last 15 minutes or catching the train so as not to have to wait 2 hours in Ogilvie... we left early!]
Anyway, I had resolved not to take students because I didn't want to turn them off to classical music. In a passing conversation with some of my "after-school-choir" kids, I mentioned the opera.
student: "we want to go!"
me: "are you sure?"
"it's 4 hours long..."
"we want to go."
"it's in french."
"we want to go."
"we want to go."
"i'd love to take you but i want you to know what you're getting yourselves into..."
we're going tomorrow. 20 students + me + my mom (the other chaperone)
"Ms. Cook! yo momma comin to the opera wit us?"
(they are very excited - lots of momma questions)
I ordered more tickets than I had originally received money for, so I offered to all my students in all my classes - the first 7 people to pay me $15.00 could go - initially the trip was for after school choir students only.
As of yesterday afternoon, I only had 1 ticket left. First thing this morning, a student I'll call Kiara brought me a note and the signed permission slips. The note read something like this: "Ms. Cook, Kiara really wants to go on this trip to the opera. Her appreciation for music is growing and she is very excited about the possibility of seeing the opera for the first time. I do not have the $15.00 today, but could you please hold a ticket for her? She will have the money and more for dinner tomorrow. I promise. Thank you for your help and support." Of course she's coming! By the way, I've heard nightmares about this girl from other teachers. But in my class, she's respectful, gets all her stuff done, helps other kids who don't understand something, and extremely quiet. She doesn't really like to sing (I've asked her one on one... she says she's too shy) although she has a nice voice and her mom is forcing her to learn to sing at church. Anyway, I wouldn't have pegged her for dying to go to the opera.
I announced this trip a couple months ago to prepare students for the cost ($15.00 ticket + $12.00 dinner + bus money). Since then, I have heard a couple students mention scraping up the money... "I didn't have the money either but I found a way man... cant buy those sodas at lunch."
I'm not sure what to expect - will they like it? what are they expecting? will they be surprised by the singing? will they fall asleep? will they understand the plot?
It's going to be a great experience. For some of them, a once-in-a-lifetime-thing. Sure, it's just one opera. But it's more than that - it's a cultural experience. It's something new. (And it's a professional world class opera production for $15.00 ticket on the main floor.) By the way, I just checked - there are 5 seats left on the main floor for Sunday's production of Carmen and they are going for $247.00 each.