Youth learn Opera 101 at Sarasota Opera

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SARASOTA - The thrill of summer vacation can quickly wear off for students unless they find something to do to make good use of all their energy. But there’s a summer camp that can keep your kids from singing the blues. That's because they're singing opera.

The Sarasota Youth Opera Camp is a unique experience for youngsters from 7 to 17. Some of the 75 campers have performed at the Sarasota Opera before, but many others are venturing into the world of opera for the very first time.

Campers get a comprehensive look at opera, and they get to try their hand at all the various aspects of opera.

9-year-old Alice Lotti is in makeup class, where they're learning to create fake wounds. "Opera is fun for me, because I get to act and sing in different languages and make-up, then I go home and try new things."

And of course they're learning to sing opera. "I like singing, it's really fun. You sing a different way," says 10-year-old Lauren McLean.

They're also learning acting and so much more. They're learning the history of opera, the plots of some of the stories that operas tell, and how to stage an opera. "We're doing a lot of lighting and technical stuff, make-up…wigs. So we get to learn about all that stuff; opera 101 class."

The camp runs for three weeks, and it's crammed full of activities. "We hope to open their eyes to the magic that is opera; that opera isn't a scary thing, that it's actually a very exciting art form with all sorts of other art forms stuck into it, too."

The youth opera will present "The Little Sweep" by Benjamin Britton in November. So the campers are learning about the opera during camp.

15-year-old Ricardo Zamarrita will sing one of the lead roles. He says the more he learns about opera, the more he likes it. "I enjoy the art form itself, and not only being able to perform, but learn so much. There's more to opera than just performing, there is history, wisdom, and social skills you learn from opera."

One mission of the Sarasota Opera is to broaden the reach of opera. They believe introducing kids to it at an early age will do that. "This is when you fall in love with art and that will carry you through a lifetime. So we want to give as many opportunities to the youth in our community to experience the magic of opera."