Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Frankenboy: An Original Opera

In the spring of 2012, author Jacqueline Briggs Martin met with a group of fifth graders in a writing  workshop.  The group discussed the topic of bullying.  They talked, they wrote, and talked some more.  The outcome of their discussions and writing when to a gifted and talented composer, Robert Lindsay Nassif.  He was commissioned to write an original opera for the Cedar Rapids Opera Theater.  On Thursday April 18, 2012 Rob Nassif presented excerpts from "Frankenboy!" A Monsteropera.  Nassif's one-act, anti-bullying work was showcased in a "Meet the Composer" event onstage at CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The inspiration provided by the children led Rob to develop a story line featuring Frankenboy who, because he is "different" is bullied by the students at Transylvania Middle School.  As expected, there is an epiphany and in the end all see the error of their ways.  It is a very entertaining and informative opera.  But I particularly enjoyed Rob's story of the story.  
And I can not wait to see the opera when it premiers.
The opera will premier for the general public on June 22-24 at the CSPS hall.   

The opera will include a cast of talented actors/singers: Brian J. Kuhl as Frankenboy, Michael Penick as his nemesis Butch, as well as Jessica Mallow and Meredith Taylor DuBon.

Rob shared a few of the songs from the opera and explained the narrative that threaded through the production.  It is sure to be a smash hit.  The public will be invited to production in June:   

Ticket prices for the June performances at CSPS are $50 for the opening night gala performance, and $20 for adults and $10 for children for the remaining performances. “Frankenboy!” is sponsored by a gift from Nan Riley and the late Tom Riley -- long time patrons of the arts in Cedar Rapids, and supporters and patrons of the work of Rob Nassif.
Rob Nassif met Jacqueline Briggs Martin during the pre-"Meet the Composer" moments.  Both talented authors had a part in what promises to be a fantastic experience for young people.  In January of 2013, this opera is scheduled to tour middle schools as an entry into the initiative to curb bullying in our schools.

This is a fantastic opportunity for schools to tap into resources in the community to augment their efforts to create an anti-bullying curriculum.

Meanwhile Jackie and I (and dozens of others) enjoyed the evening immensely.  After the formal presentation there was wine and cheese and conversation.  I was able to meet Virginia Michalicek --
the Development Director of Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre who worked hard to get Jackie's visit to Johnson School of the Arts and those fifth graders arranged, and with the efforts of Melissa Summers this all came off wonderfully.  Author, Carol Gorman and a fellow teacher from Coe College (Laura) were in attendance.   Nan Riley was able to be there along with many other patrons of the arts.  A fun evening.  
Shoes are always a sign of the fun moments.  Here's a pair of shoes that was most fun.
And of course they belong to the lady with the red hat.  Jacqueline Briggs Martin has her own perspective of this "Meet the Composer" event -- you can read her thoughts on her blog at:  http://chirujournal.blogspot.com/2012/05/frankenboy-boy-with-heart.html
After the evening drew to a close we both walked to our cars but could not resist taking a picture of this statue in the entrance lobby of the CSPS hall.  (See below).
If any one knows what this is or has any story about it please let me know.  I think it is lovely.
Statue location: CSPS Hall,
1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

If you are interested in inviting Jacqueline Briggs Martin to your school for a presentation about being an author, her books, or for a writing/reading workshop she would welcome your invitation.  Jackie is a sought after speaker and easily speaks about her career as a writer and about her children's books.  Her latest book The Chiru of High Tibet, is a picture book that readers of all ages will enjoy (and learn from).
For an author appearance please contact us at McBookwords.  Each of these authors often speak  in schools with young readers, and at all types of groups that are interested in literacy and  books.

And don't miss my May 13, 2012 blog entry featuring more ideas for anti-bullying curriculum components utilizing Carol Gorman's Games: The Tale of Two Bullies.  The ideas involve all school reads, author visits, and much discussion.
McBookwords has a dozen or more authors that speak with young readers.  If you would like to investigate having an author visit your school or library -- for an author appearance please contact us at McBookwords.  Each of these authors often speak  in schools with young readers, and at all types of groups that are interested in literacy and  books.