Opera Saratoga Launches New Virtual Education Program Featuring World Premiere of ‘The Selfish Giant’

By Chris Ruel

Opera Saratoga has taken its OPERA-TO-GO education program virtual, according to the company’s recent press release.

The organization converted the format of the popular program in response to the continued rise of COVID infections across the United States and addresses ongoing safety concerns for all involved in the program.

The new program will feature the digital world premiere of “The Selfish Giant,” a new one-act opera based on the short story by Oscar Wilde, written by Brazilian-American composer Clarice Assad and librettist Lila Palmer, and commissioned by American Lyric Theater in New York City specifically for young audiences.

The re-envisioning of OPERA-TO-GO will be available to schools in late February. The program is free for educators and comprises three elements: a series of short video lessons on opera, aligned to New York State Common Core Standards in Music, Theater, Visual Arts, and English/Literature at grade levels from K-5, as well as the National Social Emotional Learning Standards; a professional audio recording of the new opera “The Selfish Giant” fully integrated into the digital curriculum, providing opportunities for students to explore a wide range of subjects; and the opportunity for students to make their own film versions of “The Selfish Giant’ by creating art that reflects the story and music.

Opera Saratoga will create an online library of student-created films of the opera, which will be hosted on the company’s website.

“Through this updated, interactive program, our goal is to provide educators with support during this incredibly challenging time, while also creating a unique, high-quality, engaging arts program for elementary school aged students. In the past, we have charged a modest fee to offset the expense of Opera Saratoga visiting each school. We know that the pandemic has seriously impacted school budgets, and we want to make sure that any teacher who is interested in taking advantage of this resource is able to do so. To that end, we have committed to making this program available for free to every school; however, we do have limited capacity to create the opera-video projects with student-created art, so we encourage educators to sign their classes up as early as possible!” stated Artistic and General Manager Lawrence Edelson in the release.

Due to the capacity limitations for the creation of the opera-video projects, the company will cap this portion of the program to the first 50 schools or classes that sign up for the program in New York State’s Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Essex, Albany, Rensselaer, and Schenectady counties.