Having grown up in Utah, and living here most of my life, you might think that there would be nothing for me to learn about my home state. I likely would have thought so too, up until we started touring the state as Resident Artists for the Utah Opera. I’ve always known that Utah was a diverse state: from the ski slopes (my favorite) to the desert hiking in Moab, to the metropolis of Salt Lake, there’s a little bit of everything here–and the same is true for the people!
Last week, we toured Beaver, Utah for three days. We checked out the tourist traps, visited one of the two (!) local video rental stores, and saw the Cache Valley Cheese Factory (cheese curds: best ever).
Of course, the point of the trip was to perform and educate the students of Beaver County about opera. My favorite thing is to see what the kids and educators are expecting… and then see what the reaction is afterwards.
Some teachers are worried; will opera be accessible to kids who grow up in a rural community? Some teachers warn the kids to be on their best behavior (which we, of course, appreciate!) and seem to say that opera is solemn. But, as the show goes on, the kids always enjoy themselves. More than once, we’ve had the question asked, “Is opera fun?” Sometimes the asker sounds confused; surely what they just saw couldn’t be the opera they’d heard about? My favorite part of this job is dispelling that rumor, and showing kids that opera can be a lot of things: silly, exciting, dramatic, and sad… but definitely relatable!