Touching the Future: Music, Words, Opera
Teachers had pretty much given up hope on reaching Rachel. Bounced from foster home to foster home with no family to speak of, no one knew the extent of what she had endured in her short 7 years. The child was incommunicative, not even speaking when spoken to. No amount of counseling or one-on-one time seemed to bring Rachel out of her shell. What happened next is nothing short of a miracle ....
Cleveland Opera on Tour came to Rachel’s school with a production of Hansel and Gretel, specifically produced for students. Rachel’s eyes lit up, and her teachers could tell that she was entranced with the music and the spectacle, the first time that any of them could remember her focusing on anything.
The following month, Rachel’s class was chosen to participate in Cleveland Opera’s Music! Words! Opera! program where the students would work together to create, from scratch, their own opera and produce and perform the piece for their parents and classmates. The students began work immediately on an opera about the changing seasons, and, suddenly, the little girl who had never spoken was shyly offering ideas about the libretto and costumes. As weeks went by, and the students saw their work coming to fruition, Rachel began speaking more confidently, even taking on the role of one of the snowflakes in the production. Her teachers noticed a dramatic change in the child – she began participating in classes and speaking to her classmates.
The night came for the public performance of the students’ opera. With a room full of parents, teachers and school staff, the lights dimmed, and the curtain rose. Three little girls dressed as dazzling white snowflakes made their entrance. Rachel stood out from the other two, not because of her talent but her radiant smile. Her teachers and foster parents wept unashamedly as they saw how far music had transported this child.
The Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County is a proud supporter of Cleveland Opera's Music! Words! Opera! program.