WotOpera’s chosen metaphor to unlock and foster creativity is opera, because every young person will be able to find an aspect of opera that they can identify with. Whether it’s creating a plot, playing a musical instrument, singing, writing music, creating dialogue, or visual design and set construction, every young person will be able to find their favourite medium and use it to express their original thoughts.
WotOpera, artistic director Murray Dahm says. “It is not about finding the ‘star’. It is about making young people aware that they are creative beings and that they should be confident in that creativity. And it has been amazing. The rapidity of it is to be celebrated because the young people can create so much when they give themselves that chance.”
1. WotOpera High School Program
The WotOpera team visited high schools in cities and regional areas across Australia. Over the period of a month WotOpera would visit four schools in a region, conduct workshop session at each school to finally create a 20 minute original opera to be presented at a professional venue. Everything about the opera is created during the workshops: plot, characters, casting, writing words and music and painting the sets. The students make every decision. WotOpera’s staff are simply there to help turn the ideas into reality. At the end of four weeks, a performance night is held at a professional venue and the four schools come together to present their operas. Students can see and hear operas created by other students in other schools! Over 70 public and private schools across Australia have participated in this program.
2. WotOpera Workshop Series
WotOpera Workshop sessions were also conducted. The Workshops serve as an introduction to opera – what it is and why it’s fun to express yourself creatively. This stimulating experience is ideal for any student of music, art, drama, history and language from years 7 to 12. The duration of the Workshop is flexible and can be tailored to run for anything from 40 minutes to 2 hours and suits groups from 10 to 60 students.
3. WotOpera Camp
Students attended the annual camp program. Each year, 60 students who are ready to further develop their creative skills are selected to participate in a week-long intense fun-filled camp. Students enjoy classes with professionals from the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and the WotOpera Team participating in singing, composition, stagecraft, creative writing and much more.
WotOpera also challenges the stereotypes surrounding opera. Murray says, “It is not an elitist art form. In classical musical terms, anything is possible. We can include modern forms of music, such as hip hop, rap and lyrical romanticism, all at once, without restriction. It doesn’t have to be Mozart – it can be Mozart and jay-Z.”