Students and families from Pittsburgh Phillips K-5 experienced an evening of riddles, passionate love, and comic relief at The Pittsburgh Opera's presentation of Puccini's Turandot at the Benedum Center on April 1.
Third, fourth, and fifth grade students from Pittsburgh Phillips were accompanied by siblings, family members, and Brashear Association staff as part of the Pittsburgh Opera's Opera Connections program. Brashear partners with Opera Connections to encourage neighborhood families to share in the excitement of operatic performance after attending a pre-performance preparatory workshop.
The pre-performance workshop, at Brashear Center one week before the performance, was led by Marilyn Egan, Ph.D., director of education at the Pittsburgh Opera. Ms. Egan gave students and parents a synopsis of the plot, overview of the characters, and played musical highlights so students would know "what to listen for" during the performance. Participants were even treated to a live opera demonstration by Demareus Cooper, Pittsburgh Opera education associate.
Turandot weaves a tale of the princess who will only grant her hand in marriage to the suitor who can answer three riddles. Any suitor who attempts the challenge but fails is executed. Turandot was the second performance attended by Pittsburgh Phillips K-5 and The Brashear Association during the 2010-2011 Opera Connections season.
The overall intensity of Turandot, set in Peking, China and sung in Italian, was coupled with moments of comic relief provided by the humorous characters of Ping, Pang, and Pong. Students appreciated the costumes and the laughs.
"The princess had a beautiful dress but was very mean to the men who loved her," said one Phillips student. "I liked watching Ping, Pang, and Pong – they were so goofy, they made me laugh every time!"