Bella Vista students to perform children’s operas

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo The Arts Academy at Bella Vista’s performance of three operas Friday finishes with a dance sequence.

Liliana Castillo

The Arts Academy at Bella Vista’s singing and dancing students will take the Marshall Auditorium stage once again Friday.

This time, 230 students from kindergarten through sixth grade will perform three miniature operas, written by Charis Bean Duke.

Duke’s children attended Lincoln-Jackson when it was the district’s arts academy and returns to Clovis from her North Carolina home to assist in the performance of her operas every other year.

Duke has written eight original children’s operas, based on children’s stories. The three operas to be performed Friday are together called “Northern Tales.” They are adapted from oral legends from northern Siberia, Alaska and Japanese islands.

The first opera, “Female Shaman,” is about a female shaman who is called from her village to another village to heal a sick child. She comes home to find that her son has died and she has to find his soul. She releases his soul from monsters and they live happily ever after.

The second, “Desire for Light,” is a story about a boy being shunned in his village. People come from another village and teach him how to become a shaman. He returns home to his village and finds acceptance.

The third is called “Three Sisters and the Ogre.” The sisters leave one at a time to find a husband and become trapped by the ogre. The third sister rescues them.

AABV teacher Sara Hennessy is the director of the operas and said the school performs a big production each year. Last year, the school performed an instrumental production and chose to focus on singing and dancing this year.

The operas, in which every word is sung, includes 12 lead parts that the students auditioned for and have been working on their material since January.

Hennessy said the nature of the operas give the students a first person view of various cultures and traditions.

Duke said the stories are full of symbolism and needed to be lightened up to make them appropriate for children.

Fast Facts

What: Northern Tales Operas

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Marshall Auditorium

Tickets: $5, available at the Arts Academy at Bella Vista and at the door, pending availability

Information: 769-4435