A school opera is an opera specifically designed to be produced at schools, with pupils in grades 5 and 6 working together with professional musicians and singers. The pupils will form the chorus and may have small solo roles. The production includes 2 or 3 professional singers, a pianist playing the part of the orchestra and a violinist from the local music institute.
At the preparatory stage, a group of 40 to 60 pupils explore the music and cast of the opera under a teacher’s guidance and do drama exercises. The director and pianist visit the school in advance to rehearse the music and make preparations for the staging.
Each participating school is given an extensive package of teaching materials. In addition to the class actually involved in the project, all other classes at the school can explore the project through assignments in various school subjects.
The dress rehearsal is performed to the school on the day of the performance, and the actual performance in the evening is for families and friends. The classes involved in the project market and sell tickets for the performances themselves and can keep the proceeds.
The cost to the school for the project is a fee of EUR 700. This covers the teaching material, an advance visit to the school, the artistic team’s fees for the day of the performance and the costumes and sets used in the performance. The project is available to all 5th and 6th grade classes. The teacher in charge does not have to be a music teacher, and the pupils do not have to be in a dedicated music class.
The FNOB has been producing school operas for 16 years. With Herman Rechberger’s Black Sabbath (2000), Markus Fagerudd’s Kerjäläiset (Beggars, 2003) and Sotajoulukuu (War December, 2007), Atso Almila’s Auringonkukkia (Sunflowers, 2009) and Jukka Linkola’s Hölmöläiset (The Dummies), more than 20,000 schoolchildren all over Finland have gained first-hand experience of staging and performing an opera.