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A Backpack Opera: Old MacDonald Had A Farm (Performance Pack)

By David Stocker

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Children's opera for mixed voices
Composed by David Stocker. Children's Opera. Performance pack. Duration c. 23 minutes. E.C. Schirmer Publishing #4928. Published by E.C. Schirmer Publishing (EC.4928).

Item Number: EC.4928

Text: Barbara Andress.

What: Backpack Opera is a musical theater small form which takes operatic principles of action music and feeling music and presents them in an age-appropriate production for preschool and elementary children. The performance is portable, using only those props which can be hand-carried or which are normally present on-site, such as chairs and tables. The absence of a piano need not be a limitation since portable keyboards and synthesizers are readily available. There are no sets. Because Backpack Opera is a mobile event, the number of characters is small and the amount of carry-in material is minimal. The performers may be high school, junior high, or college students. The average length of a backpack opera is under thirty minutes. Why: It is generally accepted in music education that preschool and elementary students need to have as many opportunities to experience age-appropriate music performances as possible. Backpack Opera is one approach to meeting this need. Unlike the more traditional recital type of performance, Backpack Opera sustains interest for young audiences through engaging characters, simple plot lines, high visual involvement (movement and costuming), as well as through interesting music. It functions as a broadening and enriching supplement to classroom music performances because it includes other Fine Arts, such as drama and dance. As an introduction to opera, Backpack Opera has the potential to instruct as well as to entertain, and it serves school performers as well as young audiences. Old MacDonald Had a Farm Backpack Opera has seven characters; its duration is about 23 minutes. Characters Old MacDonald , also known as "Mac," is a happy-go-lucky farmer who presides over a motley crew of animals, each with its own personality, but united in a desire to leave the farm to explore the delights of the city. Mac loves his farm but also exhibits an interest in seeing exotic city life. He is a baritone, but could also be a second tenor since most of his notes lie in a middle register: His highest note is an E. Betsy is Mac's cheerful wife who is comfortable with her own set of responsibilities. She probably works harder than her husband because he seems to like to spend a lot of time in the village visiting with the people. She is a soprano with a solo F-sharp. Cat is perpetually after the Rat, but only half-heartedly. They are never side-by-side in the group activity. It is suggested that Cat be either a soprano or an alto. Medium range. Rat is paired with Cat, but is not deathly afraid of her. Rat should be either a soprano or an alto. Medium range. Probably, she should have a lighter voice than Cat. Pig is "Mr. Cool" - certainly self-proclaimed. He should have a continual swagger and general sense of disdain or superiority. He could be either a baritone or a tenor since his range is medium. Chicken aspires to the title of "'Miss Cool" and is unwilling to let Pig have it without a fight. She should appear to be flighty and bird-like, but feisty with a great deal of self-confidence. She could be either a soprano or an alto. Medium range. Cow/Pianist is a pleasant character with a quality of dreaminess in her demeanor. She aspires to be more than a cow - to dance and sing and be more like other more active animals. But she is resigned to her milk-giving position in the scheme of things. She could be either a soprano or an alto since her range is medium. Her keyboard skills must be such that she can also bounce around with her head and upper body while she plays, as in the "going to the city in a truck" scene. Performance PackContains: 1 Opera Full Score 7 Vocal Scores 1 Classroom Packet (1 Poster, 3 Puppet Patterns, Puppets Take-Home Page, Bus Pattern, Play Charts, Teacher's Guide, Story/Music Summary Page).

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