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St. Thomas’s Kids To Perform “Carmen”

by David Brensilver | Mar 8, 2012 12:48 pm

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A group of 33 vocalists from St. Thomas’s Day School are preparing to perform Carmen with the Western Connecticut State University Opera.

According to St. Thomas’s Day School music teacher June Hale, the elementary school students, who sing in an ensemble called the Bluestars, were invited by Dr. Margaret Astrup, a music professor at WCSU, to appear as the children’s chorus in Bizet’s beloved 1875 opera. 

Hale, a pianist, said she’s accompanied Astrup in vocal recitals.

“She has done concerts with me in the past,” Hale said, “and knows that we have this group of children who sing.”

Students from the six-grade class at St. Thomas’s Day School performed in the WCSU Opera’s 2010 production of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Hale said.

The Bluestars, she said, have been rehearsing Carmen on Friday mornings, before school begins. The students have also been rehearsing with CDs Hale and Astrup prepared.

Each recording, Hale said, is “like a Rosetta Stone for opera singers.”

Given that Ludovic Halévy and Henri Meilhac’s libretto for Carmen is in French, there has been “quite a lot of work that needs to be done,” Hale said.

“Dr. Astrup is very fluent,” Hale said, “and so she coaches us in the diction.”

Hale said that she and the students also spend rehearsal time talking “about what they’re singing and what that means.”

Given that the six-grade students who performed in the WCSU Opera’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors have since graduated from St. Thomas’s Day School, Hale said “this is brand new” for the Bluestars.

“Right now, it’s hard work,” she said, but “they’re still enjoying it.”

The WCSU Opera will present Bizet’s Carmen on March 30 and March 31, at 8 p.m., in the university’s Ives Concert Hall. Visit wcsu.edu/tickets for ticketing information.

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