2 May 2017 at 5.44pm | Comment on this article
Every year, we invite thousands of primary and secondary schoolchildren to experience opera and ballet for the first time. The schools take over the Royal Opera House: we’re awash with uniforms and packed lunches and the reaction is astounding. From pantomime booing, or laughter to tears, the kids are captivated, and return home bright-eyed and bubbling with questions.
We captured a selection of these queries and put them to soprano Ermonela Jaho, who sang the part of Madama Butterfly in the Schools’ Matinee performance.
'Do you think I could be in an opera one day?' asks an 11-year-old student from a primary school in Harlesden. 'Do opera singers have to eat special food to look after their voices?', asks another.
Ermonela answered them all with grace, humour and compassion – even when she was asked whether she minded 'kissing boys on stage'! – allowing a younger audience to find out about the realities of life as an opera singer.
We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the intensity and excitement of a performance at Covent Garden and that's why every year we free up the entire auditorium for Schools' Matinee performances exclusively for children. These performances are special, not only because of the low-cost tickets, but because of the incredible atmosphere created by the children – as anyone who has heard their pop concert-esque screaming at a curtain call will attest!
Schools' Matinee performances are generously supported by The Taylor Family Foundation.