Field Trip: The Magic Flute
One of the amazing benefits of living and teaching in the Champaign-Urbana area (or Urbana-Champaign or Chambana or, as I prefer to call it, Chambanavoy, because Savoy is just as much as part of the wider community as the two bigger cities) is our access to amazing cultural arts that people and especially students in other areas might not get to experience. Even growing up near Peoria, Illinois, I recall going to the Peoria Civic Center in grade school once to see a stage production of The Velveteen Rabbit. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started going to broadway musicals, the symphony, the orchestra, and to performances of choral groups. And even though the opportunities were there, the first ballet I ever attended was just a couple of years ago when I went with a group of friends to see The Nutcracker and the first opera was about the same time. I don’t even remember the name of the show; I just remember that we all heard it was going on, the tickets for students were reasonably priced, and we thought it would be fun to dress up in fancy clothes and go to an opera performed in a language none of us spoke (probably Italian).
And yet today my students, who are almost all nine-years-olds (with just a couple of exceptions), got to go to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to see a South African adaptation of Mozart’s classic opera, The Magic Flute. (The show was Impempe Yomlingo performed by ISANGO Ensemble.) The opportunity was developed by scheming by my new fourth grade partner, our building instructional coach, and the
education outreach guy handsome engagement director from Krannert who has worked closely with our building for several years.
To prep for this trip, we read two different adaptations of the story, discussed the main characters and the plot, and read about the performing group’s history and the history of how Mozart’s opera came about. Personally, I think it is pretty cool that I have a class of fourth grade students who can tell you that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed The Magic Flute (actually Die Zauberflöte) while in Salzburg, Austria, in 1791 at the request of his friend who ran a theatre in Vienna.
I was so proud of my students while they were in the auditorium for the production! They were respectful of others, they showed that they know how to sit properly in auditorium seats (nobody was climbing on chairs or bouncing up and down on them), and they were a captive audience! This was our first outing as both a class and as a fourth grade and things went very, very well! I am very appreciative of the support staff who came along (as well as our principal) to help out! I am also grateful to my colleagues for organizing this trip. We are going to use it as a springboard for a future arts infusion project that is still in development that I think students and families are going to love! But even if this was just a stand-alone event, I am so grateful to be in a community where young children have access to other cultures and other styles of entertainment that they may not otherwise get to experience at such a young age!