This section of our community outreach enables the schools to attend performances at the theater, allowing children to experience first-hand a professional opera production. (Examples of such performances will include Amahl and the Night Visitors, Hansel and Gretel, The Gift of the Magi, etc.) Prior to the performances, a Solo Opera representative will go into the schools to share the music and story of the opera. An educational workbook will also be distributed to the students. In December 2003 we produced two student performances of our children’s opera Amahl and the Night Visitors which included a shortened version of the opera, a mini lecture on opera, and an educational booklet for the children to take home.
This program, for boy sopranos, ages 10-13, prepared young singers for the role of “Amahl” in our annual holiday chamber opera Amahl and The Night Visitors (2001, 2002, 2003). It was a wonderful opportunity for these children to improve their singing voices, learn the music and staging of an opera, and have the chance to star and/or understudy an operatic role in a professional situation. This program was in collaboration with Contra Costa Children’s Chorus of Walnut Creek.
Solo Opera is committed to joining with other non-profit organizations in the Bay Area to enhance the performance experience and presentation to the public. Some of the performing arts groups we collaborated with in the past included Berkeley Lyric Opera Orchestra, Contra Costa Children’s Chorus of Walnut Creek CA on Amahl and the Night Visitors, Holy Names University of Oakland, CA, and Goat Hall Productions of San Francisco, CA. In 2014 during our Storybook Opera season, we collaborated with the award winning Cantabella Children’s Chorus of Livermore on Menotti’s opera for children, Chip and His Dog, and Contra Costa Children’s Chorus, The Next Step Dance Studio, and the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano on our holiday opera Hansel and Gretel. (Also see below for our newest collaboration with the City of Orinda and Orinda Rotary Club for our Opera in the Park concerts and the City of Concord for our Fourth of July Parade presentations.) Upcoming will be a collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus for our The Three Feathers opera.
In 2001, because of a generous grant from the Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation, Solo Opera was able to provide ten per cent (10%) of its tickets to disadvantaged and disabled persons. It is our goal to continue this program with donations from other foundations and organizations. In 2003 Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation again helped Solo Opera purchase tickets for about 100 disadvantaged/disabled persons. For 2020-2021, we have received funds from F & M Bank and Macy’s to help fund 60 tickets for low/moderate income persons to attend our opera, Scalia/Ginsburg.
Partially funded by US Bank Foundation, Storybook Opera began as a season of two children’s opera in 2014: Chip and His Dog and Hansel and Gretel. These operas both contained children in the productions (Contra Costa Children’s Chorus, Cantabella Children’s Chorus and The Next Step Dance Studio) and were geared to help educate the children in the audience in the opera art form. In 2015, we had a second season of Storybook Opera featuring a reprisal of our popular Hansel and Gretel as well as offering a new opera, The Computer Kid’s Magic Night in March 2016. In the future, with more funding, it is hoped that Solo can continue to bring more children’s operas to the community to help foster a new generation of opera lovers! A traveling Storybook Set was purchased with the US Bank grant and used for Chip and his Dog. This set can also double now as a traveling small set for Hansel and Gretel and several other operas. This 2023 our tradition of storybook opera continues with our The Three Feathers opera which is based on the Grimm’s fairy tale.
We love collaborating with local businesses! These collaborations help bring awareness to the community about the arts/music as well as help highlight the businesses who support us. One of our favorite community collaborations was for our Hansel and Gretel opera. Throughout the opera, there is a running theme of poverty and hunger. So, to tie this theme into the needs of our community, we asked the audience of our Hansel 2014 and 2015 to join with us in bringing food to donate to the Food Bank. In turn we found many local businesses (Safeway, Lucky’s, Sam’s Club, Costco, Panera Bread, and Trader Joe’s) that donated cookies/treats to give the audience during intermission as a thank you treat for their generosity. For 2014 and 2015 combined we gathered over 5 full barrels of food- over 400 pounds- to donate to their cause! Other examples: In 2018, we partnered with several senior centers and home school groups for outreach educational presentations for our The Gift of the Magi opera. Recently, for our 2019 Macy’s Department Store event/fundraiser- The Twelve Days of Christmas– we collaborated with over 20 new local businesses with our Concord Chamber of Commerce and local Sun Valley Shopping Mall- including local restaurants, stores, and hotels- to donate prizes for the audience. In addition, for each of our Opera in the Park event, we collaborated with over 20 local stores and restaurants to donate food/beverages for the singers and volunteers for the events.
Crescendo! is open to those who are interested in Solo Opera by participating in unique social events/fieldtrips, fundraising, volunteering back stage, and other music educational activities. Our main mission is to create increased and growing appreciation for the opera art form. One of our first outings was a field trip to San Francisco Opera’s Sweeney Todd. The group is open to all ages, with an emphasis on youth and young adults.
For the past several years, Solo Opera has collaborated/co-produced with Orinda Rotary Club and the City of Orinda an Opera in the Park in the Orinda Community Park (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). These events are FREE to the public and enjoyed by 500 to 1000 persons each show. The programs contain 2 hours of opera arias, duets, and ensembles performed by eight professional opera singers from around the Bay Area. A master of ceremonies helps to educate the audience with commentary about the opera pieces with stories and translations. Opera in the Park is a wonderful way to take the art form to those who may not normally be able to financially or physically attend opera in the theater. The Rotary Club also busses in seniors and disabled persons to be able to attend and sets chairs/tents out for them. The rest of the audience brings blankets, folding chairs, and picnic dinners in the lawn area. Children play on the structures and the music is enjoyed by all!
Solo Opera has been a participant in the Concord Fourth of July Parade for the past several years. This free event is a wonderful opportunity for us to bring music to thousands of audience members who may never have experienced opera before. Highlights include 2018 – A Toast to the City of Concord– where we performed some Die Fledermaus and other music and 2019- All That Jazz (sponsored by F&M Bank) where we brought music from Porgy and Bess, the musical All That Jazz and much more. For 2019, we received an award from the City of Concord for MOST ALIGNED WITH PARADE THEME for our costumes and presentation. This past 2022, Solo Opera with the Concord Art Association and B8 Theatre (as our newly formed Arts Alliance Concord) joined forces to enter in the parade with an entry called Welcome Back, Concord. We won again for MOST ALIGNED WITH PARADE THEME.