Thursday, January 25, 2007

"History Alive" at the Virginia Opera

Benny (age 7) had his first date. He took his best friend Zoe (age 6) to the "History Alive" show, by the Virginia Opera, at the Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center. He sat on the other side of the aisle from her, and chatted up a bunch of senior citizens during the show. Do you think she'll still marry him?

The Virginia Opera sends out teams of opera-tors to schools and community centers, to spread the opera love. Today we went to see "History Alive!" which is about the history of Virginia. I took Benny and his little friend Zoe.

The show was great -- little snappy songs about all the things that have happened to Virginia like presidents, sufrage, wars, witch hunts, and the like. Three boisterous and cheerful young operaniacs belted it out, accompanied by a brisk upright piano. Here are two of the three singers:

My favorite songs were the ones about all the presidents who have come from Virginia, and the one about women voting. My least favorite songs were the opener and closer, which were about how Virginia is great and the operaniacs love it. Those were a little reminiscent of the Dave Barry send-up of travelogues which represent each state as "dynamic."

Benny loved it. LOVED it. He went immediately backstage after the performance and proclaimed, "YOU guys have the best show EVER." He remarked later, in the car, "Now I know for sure that Virginia is the best state!" So, it was effective as a branding tool, if not as delivery system for historical facts. It was almost too long for this age of kid, but Benny, who is notoriously wiggly, actually sat through it all without making noise or oozing onto the floor. Zoe, who is always virtuous, was especially so.

Here are cast, and the kids, along with two other cute little homeschoolers that we met there, of the Bryan family, in the middle. They are also violinists! And we had a charming conversation about horses, too.

I'm so pleased we braved the snowstorm in Talbot Park to see this performance. It was a real pleasure -- for the kids and for me too. Seeing opera singers like this was kind of like seeing a band you like in a small club, where you can get right down front and hear every word, see every blink. Sunday we're going to see Agrippina at the opera house -- we'll see how Handel compares!

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