Opera (noun): A super boring performance where very large people screech in a foreign language. See also: interminable, nap time, old-fashioned.  If that’s your definition of opera, it’s time to change that! Under the direction of Placido Domingo, LA Opera is hosting a Family Day on March 8 with a vibrant and exciting production that makes opera come to life for kids—and parents, too.

'The Barber of Seville' Rehearsal 1 - November 20, 2009

Opera + Kids = Disaster. Right? Wrong!
Opera and kids sounds a bit like oil and water, but more expensive and potentially more embarrassing, when you have to abandon your seats after fifteen minutes because they clamor (loudly) that “this is boring.” That seems like an obvious conclusion—until you actually take your kids to the opera. Opera is loud, dramatic, musical, and the sets and scenes are busy and ever changing. It’s perfect entertainment for your little A.D.D. drama addict. None other than Placido Domingo knows this: Opera is for everyone. So this year he has created the Domingo Family Days. For kid friendly operas (not an oxymoron!), the LA Opera has a matinee show book-ended by themed activities for the whole family to enjoy, while learning more about the opera.

'The Barber of Seville' Final Dress - November 27, 2009

Even Elmer Fudd Likes It
The Family Day opera this spring is The Barber of Seville (yes, the one you know from watching Bugs Bunny). It’s the story of the dashing Count Almaviva who has lost his heart to the beautiful Rosina, who has a mean guardian determined to marry her himself. Figaro comes to the rescue, and the barber conjures up wacky schemes to unite the young lovers.  And it’s got a score you can’t get out of your head.  (In a good way, unlike say, The Doc McStuffins theme song.)

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First, There’s The Pre-Show
Before the show, you’ll head up to the 5th Floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. A teaching artist leads fun acting workshops that explore themes from the opera and help kids understand the elements of theater. There will be tables of props from the Opera that kids can play with, as well a kite making workshop. With a stunning view of the city and hills and popcorn, drinks and cookies to tide you till intermission, it’s a perfect way to start the day.

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Then, Your Seat. And Their Seat, Too.
Something is already waiting for you—a booster. You can reserve one beforehand, and the opera staff will have it waiting in your child’s seat. And here’s one more thing you can reserve: intermission drinks and snacks. Your little one doesn’t want to wait in line when the break rolls around. So pre-order & pay and your treat (a little champers for you, a big bag o’ gummy bears for them) is ready and waiting. Then it’s showtime. And because you’ve accessed the special website (you’ll get access when you get family package tickets) with description and kid friendly activities, you all know the plot.  But just in case you forget, the words, in English, are displayed to the sides of the stage throughout the show.

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There’s More Show After The Show
Post-show it’s time to meet the cast. Back to the 5th floor you go, where a whole new table of treats await, so you can nosh and nibble and pick up your kites while you wait to have your program signed by these singing sensations, who are happy to meet and talk with the next generation of opera lovers.  It’s a thrill for kids to meet the stars, and you can tell that it’s exciting for the singers as well.  They really take their time with the kids, answering all questions as well as asking what the kids enjoyed.

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More Opera…
Now that your little one is a fan (and your fear is banished), be sure to check out the other family shows that the LA Opera stages for kids across the city:
Opera Tales Tour  – Free shows in public libraries.
Saturday Mornings at the Opera – Twice a year shows just for kids.
Community Opera – Free community opera performances.

And before we say, “That’s all folks,” one last link to get you in the mood. Click here to hear a little of the music, courtesy of everyone’s favorite bunny.

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Domingo Family Day is March 8, family pre-show activities start at 12:30 p.m., curtain is at 2 p.m.
The show is best for kids 5 & up.
Tickets start at $17, get tickets to Family Day by calling the box office.

Dorothy Chandler Concert Hall
Grand Ave, Downtown LA
Phone: 213-972-8001
Online: laopera.org/tickets

Have you taken your kids to the opera? What did they think? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

-Meghan Rose

 All photos courtesy of Meghan Rose and the LA Opera.