Fifth Grade Puppeteers Ready For Their Close-Up

Feeling like Hollywood royalty, fifth graders walked the red carpet at the Claudia Boettcher Theatre for a special viewing of Julie Taymor’s Metropolitan Opera production of “The Magic Flute” on Wednesday, May 26. 

Cameras and autograph seekers were on hand. “My favorite part was when we signed autographs on the red carpet,” Saliyaah Diouf ’28 said, explaining that “I liked this part because people cared.”

The School created a Walk of Fame filled with gold stars containing students’ names. Emmanuel Diamantakis ’28 said that “My favorite part was taking my own red carpet star because every time I see it, it will remind me of this experience.”
Middle school music teacher Katie Meadows was pleased the students were able to be treated to a special celebration before watching the magical opera together. “Mozart’s time-honored classic gives students a glimpse into the power of oppositional contrast that we can bring to our own work – light and dark, good and evil, loud and soft, fast and slow, high and low and all that these choices communicate emotionally to our audience,” Meadows said. 
The opera’s set design wowed Luka Pugatch ’28 who said “it was amazing that it spun to make it look like they’re traveling.” Riley Dixon ‘28 paid close attention to the vocal work and particularly enjoyed the Queen of the Night’s aria.

The event capped off this year’s interdisciplinary curriculum on ancient Egypt and opera as students and their families await the video debut of their puppet opera, “How The Sphinx Lost Its Nose” on Tuesday, June 8.

Directed by Meadows, along with humanities teacher Michaela Boller and art teacher Bruce Robbins, the puppet opera process is not only a fifth grade tradition but a lesson in teamwork through the in-depth study of art, history and science. 

The trio of teachers explained that opera is the ideal music form for students to study because it combines many production elements, including as lighting, scenery, plot, singing, dancing, instruments, costumes, and staged action. They also noted that the art form is inherently collaborative and interdisciplinary. 

“Today was simply the best,” Boller said. “It was my first time seeing ‘The Magic Flute’ and I loved every minute of it. Katie Meadows, Bruce Robbins, Aishling Peterson and so many others went above and beyond to make the fifth graders feel like they were truly going to the opera. What an absolute treat!” 

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