Florida Grand Opera’s season may be over, but that does not stop the company from continuing to bring opera to the community through local partnerships.
This summer, the company’s education and costuming departments are working with Tandem Theatre Project to provide costumes, scenery, and props for a children’s performing arts summer camp, which culminated with a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Deering Estate’s ballroom on July 14.
The partnership came about through a pre-existing relationship between Cerise Sutton, director of education at Florida Grand Opera, and Tandem co-founder Jeannie Sensale, who also doubles as a teaching artist for the opera’s “Read Along, Sing a Song” literacy program.
“The connection with Tandem allowed us to leverage our resources as a professional opera company to enrich the performance experience for local children and continue having an impact on the community, even in our off season,” Sutton said.
Tandem campers enjoy a wide range of experiences, from acting and musical theater training to an introduction to filmmaking. As part of the arts education, the students perform staged theatrical productions.
The younger age division consisting of elementary and middle school children completed a successful staging of Three Little Pigs on July 1 featuring costumes and sets by Florida Grand Opera staff. Florida Grand Opera’s head of costuming, Camilla Haith, who is charged with the opera’s entire costuming department during the season, dedicated the past month to designing and building multipurpose pieces that doubled as costumes and scenery for this endearing musical production.
Next, the high school division performed an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Haith lent a hand here as well, not only constructing new pieces for the show, but allowing campers to use actual costumes and props from Florida Grand Opera’s 2011-12 staging of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, pieces that both students and teachers were excited to work with. The campers took a fieldtrip to the opera’s costume warehouse, where Haith fitted them for their costumes, giving them a taste of what it is like to be a professional artist.
For more information about the Tandem Theatre Project, visit www.tandemtheatreprogram.org