Piccolo Opera by Isabelle Thomas, translated by Tanya Mayne


We all have an idea of what Opera is ... don't we?

Carmen, Aida, the Traviata ...

A lyrical art that sits at such lofty cultural heights that the majority of people feel they can't relate to it or understand it....

That's what most of us think.

If only opera could be brought down to earth and become as accessible as the other art forms we know... this is exactly what prompted Sophie Ellen Frank to open her opera school more than 29 years ago.

But what was the best way to teach this somewhat particular lyrical art to children?

It's not just about simply singing - it's important to also learn technique, have some knowledge and a bit of imagination...which is exactly what Piccolo Opera manages to do.

Making the most of their natural talents, singer and musician Sophie (daughter of the celebrated singer Nicole Buloze and mother of famous tenor Benjamin Bernheim) and the conductor, pianist and illustrator Paul Hess, have created a methodology adapted to teaching opera to children.

They offer several courses, including introductory workshops for the youngest age group of 4 to 6 year olds, where they discover the origins of opera... looking back at a precise moment in time.

It works so well because all children love stories - and what with the addition of performing arts, dancing, singing, craft activities, drawing and suspense, the result is an absolute winner - the children leave asking for more.

Sophie and Paul manage to intertwine the story of the history of Opera within this appealing mixture of activities.

It's a pedagogical method that communicates the important status of the Opera within the arts in a simple and effective way that is as appealing as a magic show to young children.

Because Piccolo Opera opens the door to a magical world, a place where anything can happen.

The opera is sung in its mother tongue, often in German, Italian and even in Russian - so the children can really show off their talents, and putting on a show allows each child the chance to see what they're good at. There is no judgment here - everyone has an important rôle.

The aim is to help children discover traditions, a respect for art and artistic responsibility ... it's a whole program that is taught, including lots of fun.

The opera school is also a curriculum for 6-9 year-olds, an academy for 10-16 year-olds, and children get to enjoy a reward for all their work - taking part in the end of year opera!

And if your child wants to discover the magical world of the Opera, they can also enjoy a one-day workshop ...

For children keen to be part of putting on a show, the summer courses are a good option during the long holidays.

If you need singers for your events, weddings, parties and celebrations, or if you'd like to offer your child a 'Birthday at the Opera', Piccolo Opera is at your service...

Meanwhile, we will keep you posted about the new shows that will be performed in Geneva.