The Cedar Rapids Opera Theater was midway by way of ‘The Enchanted Forest’ when the Pandemic Dragon raised its fire-breathing muzzle and ended the 2020 Younger Performers Elementary College Tour.

Firm founder and inventive director Daniel Kleinknecht was not sure of tips on how to set up the second half of the present’s two-year tour. He was surrounded, nevertheless, by a crew of visionaries who rose to the problem and cast a brand new collaboration with Eulenspiegel Puppet Theater Co. of West Liberty.

“I used to be reluctant – I used to be afraid of COVID,” Kleinknecht mentioned. “I felt actually scared in September-October after we have been attempting to place collectively one thing that might match a life with COVID.”

He credit government director Lori Lane and frequent opera collaborator Stephanie Michalicek with the concept of ​​turning the touring present in particular person into an internet manufacturing incorporating puppet visuals over opera voices.

“I’d have simply made the video,” Kleinknecht mentioned, “(however) I simply did not really feel snug placing all of it collectively in a bodily area.”

So he “stepped apart” and let Lane, the present’s forged and musical director, Gail Williams, “create one thing actually particular,” he mentioned, “they usually did. . I can not wait to see the general public response to this occasion. “

He will not have to attend lengthy. The video will debut at 7 p.m. Thursday on the corporate Youtube channel, as a part of the 2nd collection of free streaming Thursday occasions. After that it may be considered on and is accessible without spending a dime in elementary school rooms in jap Iowa, distributed till March 31.


Commissioned by the Nashville Opera in 2017, creator Anna Younger has written an authentic story and new lyrics to the music of Mozart, Gilbert & Sullivan, Bizet, Puccini, Donizetti and Verdi. Viewers conversant in these composers will hear “Habanera” from “Carmen”, the Papageno / Papagena duo from “The Magic Flute”, in addition to items from “La Traviata”, a number of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and different well-known works. This can be a tactic typical of youth opera variations in addition to youngsters’s cartoons.


The brand new lyrics envelop a story as outdated as time, about friendship, teamwork and forgiveness, by way of the eyes of a princess, her bumblebee confidant, a wizard and a menacing dragon. that threatens their very existence.

It is partaking for all audiences, Williams mentioned, together with adults.

“A few of them will likely be acquainted to them, just like the ‘Habanera,“” she mentioned. “They may respect the flexibility to alter the phrases of those opera items, to rhyme all of it or to make a narrative out of it; see the costumes, see the humorous antics; and they’ll additionally perceive the message, for it applies to adults in addition to youngsters. “

Williams, who normally accompanies consciousness reveals, mentioned it was a great way to introduce youngsters to opera.

“In these youngsters’s operas, it is not all of the singing. There’s additionally a dialogue, so I believe it is good for them to listen to that moderately than simply singing solidly by way of all of it, ”she mentioned.

These consciousness reveals additionally make the productions enjoyable and supply a narrative that children can relate to, she added, in addition to numerous motion, particularly the chase scene the place the Dragon needs to eat them. It triggers a change of coronary heart throughout, resulting in the guts of the message.


Reprising their 2020 roles, baritone Jacob Lay as Bumble and tenor Benjamin Burney as The Sorcerer. Lay is initially from Atlanta who studied vocal efficiency at Simpson School in Indianola and is a grasp’s candidate on the College of Tennessee. Burney obtained a grasp’s diploma in music from Roosevelt College in Chicago.

Soprano Avery Nabholz, a College of Iowa scholar from Independence, who performs the princess, and mezzo Bridget Johnston, Carnegie-Mellon grasp’s candidate of Waukee, convey the fiery Dragon to life.

Lay and Johnston additionally seem as human puppets, and on the finish of the present all of the singers are proven of their human varieties, singing certainly one of their tunes, together with Mozart’s duet, with Williams on the piano.

The boys already knew their roles and did not want any extra rehearsals, however Williams led separate particular person Zoom rehearsals in November with the ladies new to the collection. All of them gathered at Cedar Rapids on December 1 and a pair of, for rehearsals from a bodily distance within the choir room of the Orchestra Iowa, and recorded the vocals on December 3 on the stage of the Paramount Theater. The puppet half was recorded on January 11 in Grandon’s black field area on the Cedar Rapids Theater.


On the video, the actors additionally mentioned their journeys to music, in addition to their experiences with the manufacturing.

“After I was doing this for the recording challenge, I usually imagined being in entrance of (the) youngsters attempting to channel (the expertise), ”Lay mentioned. “Thankfully, I additionally had my colleagues with me give your self quite a lot of power and attempt to be within the scene as a lot as doable, though we’re not directing or technically performing.

“Doing it a second time offers me the chance to see if there is a new perspective or a brand new perspective,” Burney famous.

Points of puppets

Eulenspiegel co-founder Monica Leo referred to as the challenge a “lifeline” for her and her colleague Stephanie Vallez.

“It gave us one thing fascinating to work on in the midst of a pandemic winter after we cannot go to colleges,” she mentioned.

Lane contacted them with the concept in early fall, however with one other challenge on their plate, they acquired critical about engaged on the puppets in November and December.

Leo sketched designs of puppets, engaged on forged photographs, to make the puppets appear like the individuals. Placing a human face on the bee was a snap, however placing a human face on the dragon wasn’t, due to the muzzle. As an alternative, Leo centered on Johnston’s “distinctive bluish inexperienced eyes” and flaming purple hair to make these outstanding not solely the dragon’s face, but additionally the human puppet counterpart who introduces ” lyrical journey ”and prepares the story about to unfold. Leo additionally used the identical velvet brocade material for each Johnston’s characters.

Puppets are a mixture of hand puppets, which Leo used for characters who want to choose up gadgets, and rod puppets for others. Rod puppets have been extra handy for Vallez to maintain on the identical top as Leo’s hand puppets, since Leo is about 8 inches taller than Vallez.

One of many largest challenges, nevertheless, is that these puppets can not sing. So Leo and Vallez needed to create sufficient motion and motion to maintain viewers throughout vocals and transitions.


Working from the recorded soundtrack, Vallez took inspiration from his dance expertise to create easy actions for the puppets, and some inflatable squirrels entered the image so as to add visible pleasure as effectively.

“All of it labored out,” Leo mentioned, thanking videographer Clay Bergren for his work, filming from completely different angles over the course of a day. Ed Karr additionally added his sturdy engineering abilities to the challenge.

“It was enjoyable,” Leo mentioned. “A psychological problem in addition to a artistic problem.”

Feedback: (319) 368-8508; [email protected]

‘The enchanted forest’

• Presenter: Cedar Rapids Opera Theater 2nd Thursday Sequence, in collaboration with Puppet theater Eulenspiegel Co.

• When: 7:00 p.m. Thursday

• The place: begin on-line at then go to

• Value: free, donations accepted

• Particulars:

• For school rooms: obtainable free in elementary colleges in Jap Iowa, distributed till March 31; consists of academic materials; E-mail [email protected]

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