By Miranda Haley
What: The Atlanta Opera with Kids: Tosca, an opera by Puccini
Where: The Cobb Energy Center | 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339
When: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, October 10, 2013, 10 am & 12 PM (Children’s edited version)
Friday, October 11, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Sunday October 13, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Cost: seats range from $22.64 – $143.58
Growing up my father was adamant that I would be exposed to a wide range of cultural experiences as often as possible. Over the years I have been blessed to see a number of symphonies, chamber music performances, recitals, theatrical productions and choruses. However, there is only one place you can experience all them in accord. Nothing quite compares to the opera, regardless of your age. If you are attempting to introduce a child or teen to the classical art scene, the opera is a perfect launch pad. It brings together the passion of theatrics, resonance of a full symphony, harmony of a choir and the thrill of an aria.
Tosca is a perfect first operatic experience. Written by Puccini, one of the greatest Italian composers of all time, his operas are known for their stirring arias and drama. Even the youngest of the audience will be memorized by the performers’ vocal range and ability to fill a 2750 capacity auditorium with their singular voice, even while sprawled out on the stage or running up stairs. In Tosca their is plenty of action in quick succession that can hold short adolescent attention spans, period costuming, constant movement and impressive staging. In the first act their is even a children’s choir that sing and dance! Tosca highlights a poignant point in European history that many students usually snooze through. The opera can bring history to life and spark a moment of connection and relation to a time gone by.
The Atlanta Opera with Kids: As a Teaching Tool
Depending on the age of your child, you can use The Atlanta Opera’s performance of Tosca as a variety of teaching tools. Simply attending an opera can begin to prepare a child for every kind of performance. The experience of dressing up and attending a professional performance in a beautiful environment cannot be understated. Nowhere else is the importance of punctuality more prevalent than at the opera. Once the curtain goes up tardy guests have to wait until the beginning of the next act or the intermission to be seated out of respect for both the performers and audience. Given the reverence of an opera and lack of speciality facilities, this would not be an appropriate opportunity for the very young, but if your child can sit quietly and wait approximately 45 minutes to an hour between bathroom breaks this may be for you.
The Atlanta Opera with Kids: Catering to a Younger Audience
If a full opera may tax your child’s attention span or go beyond their comprehension, The Atlanta Opera has a special performance that accommodates the special needs of a younger audience. Thursday, October 10th at 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM the very same cast performing the regular Tosca will put on a shortened, edited version. Fair warning, Tosca deals with themes of torture, murder, executions, war and an indecent proposal. In the edited, child-friendly version, these aspects will be minimized and the plot framed in terms a younger audience can easily grasp and relieves you of the obligation to explain “hussy” or “pimp” to delicate little ears. These special performances will run just one hour (no intermission) and are more relaxed than a regular full opera where giggling or pointing might irritate a season ticket holder nearby. You cannot purchase these tickets online as with the regular performances so to reserve tickets, call the box office at (404) 881-8885. Tickets are $10/student and free to one chaperone and groups of ten or more are discounted. These select performances will sell out quickly though!
An Atlanta Opera with Kids: Online Study Guide
Regardless of which performance you attend, I would highly recommend utilizing the online study guide for the Student Short performance. You can also access it by visiting http://www.atlantaopera.org and scrolling down to Tosca, then clicking on Student Short and then Tosca Study Guide at the bottom of the page. In this guide, you and your child can get acquainted with the logistics of attending an opera, view pictures of the performance they will see, get a behind the scenes look at what goes into a performance, meet Giacomo Puccini, read an easy synopsis of the opera, meet the Atlanta Opera cast and understand their roles and get your bearings for the opera by researching the history surrounding Tosca’s contemporary science, literature and current events. Parents and educators will benefit from this guide just as much as students and can pull out the prepared quizzes or use the information to guide their students.
The Atlanta Opera with Kids: Parking and Logistics
Parking is plentiful in the deck adjacent to the Cobb Energy Center with elevators and easy access to the venue. Parking is $6.00/ car and there will be attendants on duty through the performance. The Box Office and Will Call are right up front so you can’t miss them. Inside there are bathrooms on every level on each side of the lobbies. To your left after you enter, there is are concessions with sodas, juices and kid-friendly snacks. There is also a selection of beer, wine and top shelf liquor for adults. Be prepared however as everything is a bit pricey and a cash tip is standard ($1/drink is customary). No outside food or beverage is allowed, but you can bring your purchased items into the auditorium before the performance. One tip I would extend is that if possible sit towards the center or stage left (from the audience’s perspective left is right and right is left). Not everything, but several crucial moments in the opera happen on stage right and if you are sitting too far over you may miss something pivotal!