Who says kids do not relate to opera?
The Victorian Lyric Opera Company (VLOC) is sure they will when it pairs a popular fairy tale with music by popular opera composers.
“Little Red’s Most Unusual Day,” a variation of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale with an extra dose of humor, has been set to music by Jacques Offenbach and Gioachino Rossini, with words and story adaptation by John Davies.
Among the bewildering surprises that Little Red encounters are seeing her beloved granny kissing a wolf, who also has a crush on her, and Forest Ranger Dudley losing his pants.
“‘Little Red’ is a great introduction to opera for children and an operatic retelling with dialogue,” said Stevie Miller, the production’s music director.
The production is only 40 minutes long, making the opera light and fast-paced enough to keep it moving, said Miller. “Fast-paced” certainly describes the title song from “The Barber of Seville,” arguably Rossini’s most famous opera.
As she prepares to serve as a music director, Miller said the play’s charming attributes makes the process fun. The challenge, though, is that the opera has a great deal of music and words and the production does not have subtitles, she said.
Meanwhile, Mary Frances Dini will be directing her first operatic production as well as making her directorial debut at VLOC.
“The majority of my directing experience comes from working with school-aged children in school or summer camp performances of musicals,” Dini said. “As a new director, as well as an elementary music teacher and performer, I was thrilled to learn that VLOC had an outreach opportunity for children. My goal through this show has been to create an experience for them as well as (for) those new to opera, in which they are exposed to opera music through an interactive presentation of a fairy tale that they may know.”
Despite the newness of her experience, Dini said she did not encounter any great challenges.
“Just as in any show, there might be little hiccups in locating costumes, creating the sets or working out blocking,” Dini said. “But in this production, the production staff and cast members have all run with the vision I brought to the table.”
Dini did admit, as an afterthought, that the venue and setup of the stage do present a challenge.
“For those who know what a proscenium arch is, on most stages, it is all the way down towards the audience,” Dini said. “In this theater, it is upstage, much further away from the audience, so it dictates entrances for sets in a much different way. While it is my greatest challenge, it has me thinking about staging in a much different way and has me utilizing more problem solving than I’ve ever done for school shows.”
Dini’s greatest point of satisfaction, she added, is watching “such a truly talented cast” bring this fairy tale to life. While she has always enjoyed being on stage, Dini said “directing a show that unfolds before your eyes offer a different type of satisfaction.”
“I like to work in a collaborative environment in which performers can bring their thoughts to the table for their characters,” Dini said. “Each cast member has taken my vision and worked to make their character larger than life for our stage.”
“Little Red’s Most Unusual Day” runs Oct. 26-Nov. 3 at The Arts Barn in partnership with Arts on the Green. 311 Kent Square Road in Gaithersburg. www.vloc.org.