The Child's Frightful Fantasy - a children's opera
Important Venue Notes
When an angry child defies his mother, destroys his room, and tortures his animal friends instead of finishing his homework, the broken furniture, wounded pets, and even disgruntled Mr. Arithmetic himself decide to teach the boy a lesson! The twenty characters in this whimsical opera are imaginatively portrayed here by just five singers. Best of all, children (and the young-at-heart) in the audience can join the performance as a sing-a-long chorus. With the aid of puppets and a design inspired by American pop-art icon Roy Lichtenstein, this production will surely delight children, parents and teachers alike.
PORTLAND & BEAVERTON, OR December 8 – 10 2017 – Beaverton-based Ping & Woof Opera joins forces with Portland’s multi-disciplinary performing arts ensemble Necessity Arts Collective for the second time in 2017 to support a local cause. This winter, performances of the children’s opera The Child’s Frightful Fantasy will serve as drop off points for donations to the Oregon Food Bank.
Both Hayley Glickfeld Bielman (director, founder of NAC) and Jocelyn Claire Thomas (soprano, co-founder of P&W) strive to support their community with their artistic endeavors – in more than just the spiritual way of “nourishing the human soul.” In March, their collaboration Stabat Mater brought dance and sacred music together in a Lenten dance of grief to support the Ceaserfire Oregon Education Foundation. This time, their efforts will alleviate hunger in Oregon: instead of paying admission, audience members are invited to donate non-perishable food items or make a financial contribution to the Oregon Food Bank. According to the OFB website, “many [people] struggle silently and make heart-wrenching decisions that nobody should have to make. ... Without the basic security of knowing when you will eat next ... the daily fight to survive can consume your life.” The OFB works to eliminate hunger and its root causes – which include economic, social, and health factors. Resources supplied by the OFB enable their clients to pay rent, utility, medical and childcare bills – in addition to allowing these clients to maintain a healthier diet. A simple $10 donation can provide 40 pounds, or 30 meals worth of food. All proceeds from performances of The Child’s Frightful Fantasy will go directly to OFB.
The opera itself is a fun one – all the more so because it suits young audiences so perfectly. In the story, an angry child defies his mother, destroys his room, and tortures his animal friends instead of finishing his homework – inspiring the broken furniture, wounded pets, and even disgruntled Mr. Arithmetic himself to come to life and teach the boy a lesson. Because this piece demands a large cast (21 characters plus chorus), elaborate costumes and fantastical sets, some critics recommend performing it in a non-staged concert version – leaving the audience and their imaginations to invent scenery and characters. NAC and P&W have risen to the staging challenge though, with a team of four singers (Sadie Gregg, Ray Jackson, Lindsey Rae Johnson, and Jocelyn Claire Thomas) and a host of puppets created by Jason Ropp of Dragon Theater Puppets. The production’s visual design is inspired by American pop-art icon Roy Lichtenstein, complete with big, colorful “POW!” and “BANG!” sound effects that appear against a black-and-white comic book style backdrop.
The performers describe the music as eclectic and unpredictable, strange and wonderful in a way that captures the quirks of the characters: cats yowl, the fire sparks, a porcelain tea cup charms with a delicate and exotic melody. Oregon composer Kevin Elmore adapted the chorus sections so that children and the young-at-heart in the audience can sing along, joining a team of pilots in a call-and-response song, answering addition problems given by Mr. Arithmetic, and creating an atmosphere of nighttime noises when the child escapes outside to his garden.
On- and off-stage members alike of The Child’s Frightful Fantasy look forward to using their artistry both to entertain local audiences and to fight hunger in Oregon state. Keyboard player Simon Bielman summarizes, “many of us are very lucky to have the luxury of feeding our souls when so many – too many – are struggling to fill their plates. I can think of no better way to use our craft than to reach out to the more fortunate among us and inspire them to lift those who need it.”