As the children are working on the opera – at any phase – allow them to have a copy of the libretto of their own to hold and to read. The challenge of reading their “own” words will increase their vocabulary, their reading and their spelling (be sure you have spelled everything correctly 🙂 , and you will find that the synergism between music and reading is amazing!
If your budget is limited, find a generous donor to “sponsor” your class opera to the amount of $100.00 to cover photocopies and cd’s for the class.
At the very least, write the words on butcher paper, poster board, or project them on the board for them to read. Even very early readers will begin to recognize words that they themselves have cleverly inserted into the opera libretto.
PLUS … next year try writing an opera in your classroom that supports another core objective. For instance, if you are studying local history, use that as a jumping off point for the opera. In Utah, Mountain Men and Native Americans are a great story beginning. Older children may be studying Eastern Civilizations … They may do research into Japanese culture and music and write their opera based around that research. Use YOUR imagination and then allow the children to use THEIRS. Use the opera as tool to teach, not as an extra curricular activity, and you will have support from parents and administrators alike.
Education Director, Utah Festival Opera