Sounds of Learning brings opera to local students

February 6, 2013 3:48:35 PM PST
It was a day at the opera for hundreds of school children in the Philadelphia area. It's part of a special education program that uses the opera to teach a host of subjects.

This afternoon, 2,000 students made their way to the Academy of Music to see a modern masterpiece - the east coast premiere of the opera "Silent Night."

5th through 12th graders and some college students from all over the Philadelphia area donned their finest attire for today's production.

For most, it was their first opera experience.

It was the final dress rehearsal for "Silent Night," the Pulitzer prize-winning opera, that takes place during one of the bloodiest wars in history.

Enemies become brothers as Scottish, French and German officers defy their superiors and negotiate a miraculous Christmas Eve truce during World War I.

It's the very first opera for American composer Kevin Puts.

"I approach it the way I approach any piece, I try to do the best I can and make it something that's engaging and that I'm happy with," Puts said.

Opera Philadelphia's Sounds of Learning program is a five-week music education program that uses the opera to teach everything from the history of the time period to the literary themes found within the story.

By intermission, the students were totally absorbed:

"I think it's amazing how they can get their voice so high that they don't need a microphone," Joclyn Day of LB Morris Elementary School said.

"Some of them, it changes their lives. We've had people become opera singers that came to our Sounds of Learning program over 13 years ago," David Devan, President of Opera Philadelphia, said.

"Silent Night" opens to the public on Friday, February 8th with five performances at the Academy of Music through February 17th.

For more information and tickets: