Updates: Opera, High School Uncut SAT Vocab

By Nancy Barile on February 14, 2011
  • Grades: 6–8, 9–12

On Friday, February 4, 2011, five sophomore boys from Revere High School had a most extraordinary experience: they got to be extras in Teatro Lirico D'Europa's performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston. I've told you all before how lucky we are that Jenny Kelly, director, provides us with sixty to one hundred free tickets for each of her performances in Boston, but this was straight-up-over-the-top! Teatro operas are quite the extravaganza: there is a full orchestra, and the opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles provided on a screen above the stage. Lucia di Lammermoor features one of the most famous mad scenes in all of opera — and this was the scene in which our boys appeared as extras, as seen in the photo, standing perfectly at attention.


The story is based on Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor. Poor Lucia falls in love with her brother's archenemy. When she is forced to marry another, she goes mad. Soprano Olga Orlovskaya starred as the ill-fated Lucia in this production, and she was absolutely amazing. I literally shivered through her performance. It is no wonder she received a standing ovation.

The boys had to arrive at the stage door of the theater at 6 p.m., where they met Giorgio Lalov, the artistic director. At that time, they got a tour of the beautiful backstage area of the Cutler Majestic.


The boys headed backstage after the first intermission, where they were dressed in armor and given their instructions for appearing onstage. When the curtain went up for that scene and I saw our boys, I beamed with pride. In fact, I don't think the smile has come off my face since. As castle guards, the boys were tremendous, staring straight ahead, never breaking character for one moment, despite the fact that the scene lasted close to fifteen minutes.

Photo above: William, Mladen, Karim, Sonam, Mohamed, and Carlos. 


What an incredible experience for these young men. One of the boys, Sonam Sherpa, is from Nepal and has only been in this country for ten months —  this was surely a fabulous welcome to America! "The opera was an inspiring new sensation for me," Sonam said. "Everyone in the company provided our group with great respect, and they were enthusiastic to help us with everything. The backstage feel of the opera and even just being there gave me great pleasure and will be one of my most treasured memories."

Mohamed Bensadok, who also performed, said, "The opera was by far the best experience I have ever had. We were treated politely and were thought of as young actors. We met caring people who helped us and guided us to our scene. For us, this was a huge deal, but in reality, this was more special to me than for the actors who did this play every day. When I acted, the dark audience was a bit scary at first, but after a few minutes passed, I was happy to be in the performance. Thanks to Ms. Kelly for providing this wonderful experience for me at such a young age of 15."

I can't begin to thank Jenny Kelly for all she has done for my students over the past three years. She has provided my students with a rich cultural experience that they will remember the rest of their lives.

Teatro Lirico D'Europa's last opera in Boston will be La Traviata on March 4th. For this production, Jenny is letting TEN students — five boys and five girls — appear as extras. The boys will wear tuxes; the girls will be dressed in ballgowns.  As Jenny says, "This is what life is supposed to be about . . . empowering our young people and letting them get a hands-on taste of something, so they can see the actual 'kitchen' of an art form . . . and then decide if they want to support that art form in their lives." I couldn't agree more. Brava, Jenny, brava!


Finally, many of you have asked for the second installment of High School: Uncut, so here it is! Students have worked hard to be even more creative in the filming and writing of the show. The recent acquisition of an HD Flip Cam from DonorsChoose will make the recording even more professional. Once again, the greatest outcome of this project is HEARING the students use these vocabulary words in their everyday lives. Scholastic's Choices magazine provides an excellent list of SAT vocabulary that you can use to replicate this exercise. And this project can be adapted for the younger grades — imagine the fun a class of 3rd or 4th graders could have making their own TV show using words from Daily Vocabulary Boosters!

Here's hoping for warmer weather and NO MORE SNOW in the Northeast!

~ Nancy





Thank you, Meredith. The students have an absolute blast with this. Wait til you see episode 3!!

How can I ARTICULATE how awesome this is? The students look like they are having so much fun. Two big thumbs up to the second installment.

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