Emerald City Opera’s touring troupe visits Routt County schools | SteamboatToday.com

Emerald City Opera’s touring troupe visits Routt County schools

Nicole Inglis

Sara Pugh plays Despina in the Emerald City Opera's presentation of "Three Little Pigs" at Strawberry Park Elementary School on Tuesday morning. The opera's touring troupe is performing for nine schools around Northwest Colorado.

— Strawberry Park Elementary School student Lincoln Hildebrand and many of her friends walked into an assembly Tuesday morning not knowing what opera was really about.

"I thought it was fat people singing really loud," Lincoln said.

But as a cast of four Emerald City Opera members took their bows after their performance of "Three Little Pigs," a crowd of new young opera connoisseurs shouted "bravo" and "brava," and cheered loudly.

"My favorite part was the sword fight," student Izzy Rillos said after the performance. "And I liked their costumes."

The one-act opera featured the music of Mozart; lofty, harmonic vocals; slapstick humor; and even a school-themed moral about using the library.

Emerald City Opera founder Keri Rusthoi said the school outreach program helps introduce young people to accessible opera.

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"It's an opportunity for kids to see that opera can be fun," she said. "What we want is for kids to enjoy it."

In its 10th year as an opera company, this is the sixth year Emerald City Opera has offered its touring opera troupe for educational outreach. It's been four years since they've done the program, but Rusthoi said the schools request it every year.

This year, they'll travel from South Routt to North Routt and Craig to Meeker performing "Three Little Pigs" for nine schools.

In the cast are three Steamboat Springs High School students and Emerald City Opera staff member Valerie Davia playing the Big Bad Wolf (named Wolfgang Bigbad in this version).

Sara Pugh, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, said she started in the Emerald City Opera's children's choir six years ago.

She said she enjoys performing for young children who might someday work their way up the opera ranks like she has.

"I like it because not many kids get to know about opera," Pugh said. "You're exposed to pop music all the time, but opera is a different sort."

"It's an acquired taste," Rusthoi said. "If you don't allow yourself to explore it … that's why it's important to get it into the schools early."

The group of fifth-graders that huddled in a small group after the show already might have begun to acquire that taste.

"I want to see one," Lilly Patterson said about a full opera. "That was pretty cool."

There will be a public performance of "Three Little Pigs" at 4 p.m. May 29 at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com