Frida Kahlo And The Bravest Girl In The World
Throughout November, Opera Orlando toured the children’s opera Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World in local schools and other community venues, reaching over a thousand youth and providing a first time opera experience for many of them. The opera, composed by Joe Illick with a libretto by Mark Campbell, is based on the book of the same name by Laurence Anholt and was originally commissioned by Fort Worth Opera by arrangement with Barbara Hogenson Agency, Inc. The story, which is based on an actual event, centers around Mariana, a young girl in Mexico who forms an unexpected friendship with the iconic artist Frida Kahlo. While Frida paints her portrait, Mariana learns about friendship, belief in oneself, and overcoming her fears.
Serving as a lead-up to the Company’s MainStage presentation of Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s Frida, which Opera Orlando will present at Steinmetz Hall in January 2024, the tour of Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World visited eight schools in Osceola County, and also presented three additional community performances in Mt. Dora and downtown Orlando that were free and open to the public. Sung in “Spanglish” to make the story more accessible to an ever-growing bilingual population in Osceola County, the in-school performances specifically targeted second and third graders with the students reading and studying the book prior to seeing the performance and also creating their own Frida Kahlo-inspired artwork. “I’m so grateful that all our second and third graders got to experience an opera performance,” stated Elyse Larkins from Ventura Elementary School. “It was their first opera, and for me, it was my first opera in Spanish.”
“This tour is a vital part of our education program,” states Opera Orlando education director Sarah Purser. “It is a great way to engage with the schools, but also allows us to showcase the Opera Orlando Studio Artists, who all had lead roles in the piece, with many of them doubling as puppeteers to bring Frida’s favorite pets to life. To see the expressions of joy, curiosity, wonder in the faces of our young audience members, not to mention to hear their voices as they proudly sang along with the puppets, drives home the whole purpose for the performing arts: sharing humanity, sharing culture, sharing love.”
Opera Orlando will bring back this tour for two more performances of Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World in March at the Mennello museum and students. This time for Orange County elementary students. Looking ahead to next season, the Company will present another touring production similar to Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World.
“We truly cannot thank Opera Orlando enough for bringing such magic into our schools,” said Osceola County performing arts resource specialist Chris Burns. “The students, faculty, and staff of Osceola County eagerly await next year’s tour and cannot put into words the positive, lasting impact that the arts have on our young people.”
About Opera Orlando
Celebrating, expanding, and sharing the world’s greatest art form, the 2023-24 season marks Opera Orlando’s eighth season producing high-quality operatic entertainment and educational programs that engage Central Florida audiences.
Stay up to date with Opera Orlando’s season online at www.OperaOrlando.org, and follow and like the Opera’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter accounts to share in all the Company has planned for 2023-24.
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