The Day-to-Day

Program Overview

At Little Opera, students work for a full school year to write, compose, rehearse, and perform an original opera from scratch. The finished pieces, each one 15-20 minutes in length, require students to make countless creative decisions as a team. Over the course of 9 months, here is what they’ll do:

Write an Original Story

• Envision and select the backstory from which our opera will take place
• Develop a storyline with complex characters and situations 
• Create a cohesive musical narrative from beginning to end 

Craft a Libretto

• Understand the nuances of lyric writing
• Organize the story through moments of song, movement, and musical dialogue
• Collaborate through the writing, editing, and revision processes

Anna with kids arms up

Compose Music

• Learn about rhythm, melody, and emotion in music
• Improvise sung melodies for all libretto text
• Work with professional composers to creative collaborative content

Choreograph Movement

• Hone movement techniques and skills, explore different dance styles
• Envision original movement sequences to augment the opera’s narrative
• Learn from professional dancers to refine and polish movements

Twirling Birds

Design and Build Sets, Props, and Costumes

• Create original designs for all set, prop, and costume elements of the opera
• Build models for design concepts
• Collaborate with professionals to execute the construction of designs

Rehearse, Reflect, and Direct
      • Work with professionals to improve, polish, and execute the final performance
      • Peer direct in order to build confidence, leadership, and community
      • Reflect on their work, practicing how to give and receive feedback

• Perform the finished Opera in one of San Francisco’s greatest theater spaces
• Share work-in-progress during informal performances for student’s families throughout the year
• Celebrate a year’s hard work with a final bow and a family potluck

Andrew Square

Master classes

Throughout the year, students take specialized classes with visiting artists. Master class topics vary by year, and have included costume design, set design, dance & choreography, stage combat, masks & puppetry, music composition, and singing technique.

Since 2011, over 100 artists have visited Little Opera classes.

Past guests include: Shane Adero, Sofia Ahmad, Michael Barret Austin, Alona Bach, Kathleen Barnes, Dorothy Bayern, Heather Basrab, Sharon Benitez, Matt Boehler, Eve Boltax, Laura Boytz, El Beh, Todd Berman, Joshua Raoul Brody, Joanna Bronk, Alex Burgess, Anna Bullard, Cindy Burg, Wendy Buzby, Miranda Caroligne, Rodrigo Castillo, Naya Chang, Danny Clay, Ariel Craft, Natasha Czajka, Mike Dahlberg, Clara Daims, Sonja Dale, Tara Donohue, Hannah Dworkin, Peter Engelbert, Friction Quartet, Allyson Feeney, Alyce Finwall, Jon Fischer, Callie Floor, Lucas Floyd, From the Top, The Furies, Alexandra Gilliam, Miles Graber, Kimberly Gelbwasser, Kevin Gino, Margaret Gordon, Nora Beth Griffin, Felipe Hernandez, Kristen Hevner-Wyatt, Ken Helman, Tracy Hughes, Cristina Ibarra, Cindy Im, Alla Irwin, Laura Inserra, G Scott Lacey, Phillip Lenberg, Danielle Levin, Rebecca Longworth, Erica MacLeod, Isabel Magdaleno, Casey McKerchie, John Mayne, Katie Meyers, Vince Montgomery, Lisa Morse, Amy Mu, Winnie Nieh, Mary Joy Patchett, Rebecca Pingree, Cathleen Riddley, Isabel Rosenstock, Zephyr Roos, Brian Rosen, Sarah Roland, Dorothy Santos, Anna Sapozhnikova, Claire Shaw, Christina Shonkweiler, Rich Sargent, Tom Segal, David Senk, Emily Shisko, Annie Smith, Matthew Graham Smith, Marissa Simmons, Lauren Spencer, Martha Stookey, Margaret Starr, Alex Stein, Ariana Strahl, Wiley Strasser, Elissa Stebbins, Roma Olvera, Adelle Trotta, Mosa Tsay, Briana Ung, Charith Wickrema, Debra Wong, Marissa Wolf, Elena Wright, DeVanté Winn, Jessica Winn, Elena Wright, Yi-Fang Wu, and Kat Zdan.