As a kid, I was exposed to opera through my father. Although we kids hadn’t a clue as to what was going on, we used to love to act out and pretend all sorts of scenes from the music. Play Opera by DADA Company combines bold graphics with the magic of possibilities held in opera. Included are five excerpts from operas paired with amazingly bright and surrealistic graphics that bring a rich multisensory experience to students. In Play Opera, the child can take the lead to explore the music and its rich visual content. Each piece has an introduction and history of the opera associated with it, and there is a hint of cartoon-like violence in some of the pieces. You might want to discuss the difference between pretend and real life, just as you would with any movie, TV, show or play. The illustrations are rendered by five different artists (each renowned in their field) and give kids something fresh to encounter with each piece. The artwork compliments the works and allows you to experience the music in a personal way. Let’s take a look at the vignettes so you can get a peek at the incredible artwork…and maybe get a sense of the music if you are unfamiliar with it.
The Luisa Fernanda Operetta by Federico Moreno Torroba and illustrated by Ricardo Cavolo is the story of unrequited love. The illustrations have all the grandness portrayed with its corresponding musical piece. It’s fun to tap on the face of the man and see it change with scenes from the opera.
One of the most famous is The Magic Flute by Amadeus Mozart and illustrated by Violeta Lopiz. It is a magical story with heroic actions, spells, and love. The art work is a visual treat and centered on two love birds in a forest. It is done in mainly black and white with punches of color. Overall it was my favorite and one I show kids first.
La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini and illustrated by Marina Anaya is a Cinderella type opera complete with an angry stepfather and two jealous stepsisters. It is the quest for finding true love. The graphics are outrageous and gorgeous with just a touch of humor.
Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, illustrated by Pablo Auladell is about a suitor who melts the heart of a cold and ruthless princess. The video is like a gradual awakening from a dream state, and opening to the promise of the possibilities of love.
The last selection, Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto illustrated by Mikel Casal, is about love, revenge, and sacrifice. The graphics were a little scary and I could see some kids getting disorganized if engaging the sound effects of the interactive graphics.
If you are looking to alert and expand a child’s auditory experiences and bring in a coordinating visual aspect, Play Opera is certainly worth checking out. Coordinating visual and auditory elements promote attention and a regard for space. At times the music seemed choppy and some of the interactive sound effects interfered with the story unless tapping to the rhythm. This did not always happen on repeat plays and I wonder if it had more to do with how much I had open on my iPad rather than the synching of the app’s visual and auditory display itself. I would certainly recommend DADA Company’s Play Opera for its beautiful and unique visuals and the chance for kids to experience opera.
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.