Skylark Opera's educational program, is an exciting, interactive in-school presentation designed for middle and high school students, especially those interested in music and theater. It seeks to dispel the stereotypes of opera to make the art form relevant to today's youth and to cultivate a future audience for opera. These performances are sponsored in part by The Twin Cities' Opera Guild and are presented free of charge to schools.
The program is performed by wonderfully entertaining artists who excel as both singers and actresses and who know how to engage young people. Sisters Jennifer Baldwin Peden and Christina Baldwin (two of the Twin Cities' most dynamic and popular young artists) accompanied by Artistic Director Steve Stucki, begin the program with short excerpts of popular opera tunes that have entered our culture via movies, television commercials, etc., showing students that they already know many of opera's most famous melodies.
Using well-known pieces by Mozart, Bizet, Puccini, Sullivan, and others, the program illustrates that opera is really about human emotions and relationships between people. Finally, using more contemporary excerpts including works by Kurt Weill, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, the program shows how operas being written today comment on current events and are relevant to today's world.
To schedule this program for your school, call 651-292-4309.
Christina Baldwin has been seen at Skylark Opera in Berlin to Broadway, Countess Maritza and Wonderful Town. For Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Christina recently appeared in touring productions of Don Juan Giovanni and Figaro, and in the tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires and Carmen (Carmen). At the Guthrie Theater, she has appeared in The Great Gatsby (Myrtle Wilson), A Christmas Carol (Mrs. Fred), The Pirates of Penzance (Edith), and The Comedy of Errors. She recently performed with William Bolcom during VocalEssence's Illuminating Bolcom festival and has been a featured soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as appearing in their Hansel and Gretel with The Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre. Christina has sung recitals for The Schubert Club, appeared as a guest on "A Prairie Home Companion," and has lent her voice to animated short films by the Dutch filmmaker Rosto A.D (Cannes Film Festival award-winner). She has also sung with The Minnesota Opera, the Kansas City Repertory Theater, Ex-Machina, the History Theatre, Nautilus Music-Theater, and New Breath Productions.
Jennifer Baldwin Peden has appeared in operas and musicals with Skylark Opera (Die Fledermaus, Berlin to Broadway, Countess Maritza, Wonderful Town), Theatre de la Jeune Lune (Don Juan Giovanni, Figaro, Mefistofele, Carmen, Maria de Buenos Aires, Carmina Burana, The Ballroom, The Magic Flute, and Cosi fan tutte), the Guthrie Theater (A Christmas Carol, Pirates of Penzance, The Comedy of Errors), Minnesota Orchestra (Hansel and Gretel, Carmen, various concerts), Nautilus Music-Theater (Meditations on Arion, Sister Project, Composer-Librettist Studio), the Great American History Theatre (Sisters of Swing, Minnesota Opera (Street Scene), American Repertory Theatre (Figaro, Don Juan Giovanni, Carmen), and Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Haroun and the Sea of Stories). Jennifer's singing talents are spotlighted in the film Drop Dead Gorgeous and in the Dutch animated film Jona/Tomberry which won the Grand Prix Canal at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2005. Jennifer was also a featured guest on "A Prairie Home Companion." She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from DePaul University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Minnesota.
Steve Stucki became Skylark Opera's Artistic Director in 1989. He is responsible for all artistic areas of the company, including casting, hiring artistic staff, repertoire and conducting the company's productions. Steve has held positions as assistant conductor with New York City Opera, Minnesota Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, University of Illinois Opera Theatre and University of Minnesota Opera Theatre. He toured the Upper Midwest as Music Director of The Minnesota Opera's touring company and has conducted productions of more than 60 operas, operettas and musicals, including more than 30 productions for Skylark Opera. A graduate of Macalester College, he received a Master's Degree in Piano from The University of Minnesota, and studied opera coaching and accompanying at the University of Illinois with well-known accompanist John Wustman.
For information about the Twin Cities Opera Guild and its activities, see www.twincitiesoperaguild.org.
Skylark thanks its many patrons who have generously made supporting donations and also the organizations who have provided grants, including the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Target Foundation and the Twin Cities Opera Guild.
This activity funded, in part, by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.