Opera For All Ages

Manitoba Underground Opera will be performing The Three Little Pigs at 16 libraries in Winnipeg and then bringing the show on the road to Winkler, Morden and Altona. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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The opera is coming to southern Manitoba with a show for kids to enjoy.
Manitoba Underground Opera will be performing The Three Little Pigs at 16 libraries in Winnipeg and then bringing the show on the road to Winkler, Morden and Altona.
Janice Marple plays Despina, the pig who builds her house out of bricks. She said one thing the organization is really happy about is being able to host these operas free of charge. “Children from all different backgrounds are going to be able to see this show,” she said. “There’s no financial barrier at all, which is important to us.”
The opera tells the classic tale of three sibling pigs. When the big bad wolf comes knocking, two of their houses are blown down because they didn’t build them out of sturdy enough materials.
This version has a bit of a twist as sister Despina heads to the library to research some wolf-proof building methods.
All the music is taken from Mozart operas. “It’s just little snipets of these different Mozart shows that have been kind of Frankensteined together into one cohesive piece,” Marple said.
Marple said the mix of the music and the pro-library message is a good one to give to kids. “It gets people into libraries so they can see with their own eyes what the resources are that are available to them, in most cases totally for free,” she said. “It’s also introducing kids to this art form that we tend to have this idea that is very high class and unapproachable.”
“When you watch the show you realize that it’s just a whole bunch of really catchy melodies,” she added. “It’s actually very enjoyable for anybody, for the kids and the parents as well.”
This is the first year the Underground Opera will be traveling outside of Winnipeg to bring the show to smaller communities across the province. Marple said it was important to the group to bring opera to places where it might not otherwise be.
“We’re really excited to take things further,” she said. “Things like opera and other forms of classical music don’t make it out to these smaller towns just for various reasons… it’s really unfair that people in those communities have to travel so far if they want to take in classical music or opera.”
Marple first sang with Manitoba Underground Opera two years ago. Currently based in Vancouver, she has been working with MUO in an admin role as well as performing.
She said there are various challenges when it comes to putting on a children’s opera. “It’s a smaller space first of all,” she said. “We just have a piano instead of an orchestra, and it’s a different kind of performing. Everything is heightened and more animated to really hook the children in.”
Marple said performances are a lot more up close and personal with kids. “There’s not a stage or a pit,” she said. “Most of the time the kids are sitting on the floor just a few feet in front of the performers,” she said.
MUO only started putting together children’s operas a couple of years ago, and last year was the first year they collaborated with public libraries.
“Last year there were four shows at the public libraries within Winnipeg,” Marple said. “It was so popular. We reached out to the libraries in the fall after the fact to see if they’d be up for doing that again and they said yes, absolutely, and here’s a whole bunch of other libraries that want you to come as well.”
Marple said that kind of response was really encouraging. “Opera isn’t something you usually see when you’re looking for programs for children,” she said. “In the summer kids are home from school, parents are looking for interesting stuff to take up their time, and we got lucky. It was really appealing that it was unique and accessible… people really liked it.”
The Three Little Pigs comes to Winkler and Morden libraries on July 30. Showtimes are 11 a.m. at Morden Library and 3 p.m. at Bethel Heritage Park. On August 2 at 1 p.m. the show will be at Altona Library.
The show is family friendly for ages 5-12, and performances are 35 minutes long and are free to attend.

Manitoba Underground Opera will be performing The Three Little Pigs at 16 libraries in Winnipeg and then bringing the show on the road to Winkler, Morden and Altona. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Manitoba Underground Opera will be performing The Three Little Pigs at 16 libraries in Winnipeg and then bringing the show on the road to Winkler, Morden and Altona. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Manitoba Underground Opera will be performing The Three Little Pigs at 16 libraries in Winnipeg and then bringing the show on the road to Winkler, Morden and Altona. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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