September 12, 2009

Navajo students see La Bohème

Chinle High students get taste of opera

By Cindy Yurth[F]or most of the 200 Chinle High students who crammed into the school's small drama theater Sept. 1 to see Arizona Opera's traveling production, it was a hoot.

The opera company's education director, Laura Baldasano, was surprised to find such a receptive audience in the middle of a reservation.

"They clapped, they laughed in all the right places, they were really responsive," Baldasano said. "They were a really, really good audience."
And:This is the second year for the school tour, which hit Ganado last year and this year was scheduled for two stops on the Navajo Nation: Chinle and Piñon.

Next year, revealed Baldasano, the Diné students who get to see the tour are in for a real treat.

The opera has commissioned a work based on Navajo author Evangeline Parson Yazzie's children's book about the Long Walk, "Dzani Yazhi Naazbaa'/Little Woman Warrior Who Came Home."
Comment:  For more on Indians and operas, see Stereotypical Black Elk "Film-Opera" and Keith Secola's Rock Opera.

Below:  "Musette (Grace Brooks) is surprised to see her ex-lover Marcello (John Fulton, in hat) as Rudolfo (Cameron Schutza) and Mimi (Samantha Barnes) look on in this scene from 'La Boheme' performed by members of the Arizona Opera at Chinle High School Tuesday. Chinle High students Russell Goodluck (in yellow chair) and Kevin Mitchell made the most of their two minutes in the spotlight as cafe patrons." (Times photo & video--Cindy Yurth)

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