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Helmers students get a day at the opera

Posted: November 30, 2009 9:35 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Students at Helmers Elementary School perform in "The Marriage of Figueroa" by Eli & Leroy Villanueva.

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Mrs. Candib's fourth-grade and Mrs. Doing's sixth-grade classes performed an opera called "The Marriage of Figueroa" alongside a cast and crew from the Los Angeles Opera. This opera is based on the famous opera, "The Marriage of Figaro," by Mozart.

During the seven weeks of practice with Eli and Leroy Villanueva, composer and librettist as well as director and performer, of the opera, much hard work was brewing. During the seven-week rehearsal period, the two classes learned an opera, including all the words to the songs, all of the stage cues, and even made their own costumes.

On Nov. 2, the two classes, along with the members of the L.A. Opera, presented two performances for students, parents and members of the Saugus Union School District. All of the lights, costumes, and of course, the singing, blew all away. Parents were clapping, standing and yelling "bravo."

"The Marriage of Figueroa" is about a man, Jose Figueroa, who is having his wedding celebration, and the campesinos (the students' roles) are celebrating with him. Soon, he declares the mission belongs to him and that all the campesinos now have to work for him. The campesinos devise a plan to get back at Figueroa and use the opera "The Marriage of Figaro" as a way to teach him a lesson.

All of the students performing had been divided into groups, and every group had a special time to go up on stage and have their special moment. We will always remember how we would practice the songs during free time. We would have so many laughs with the high pitches and the funny words that we were singing in a funny way.

That will always bring back some good memories of all of us practicing our cues with Eli and his co-director, Heather. Eli was an awesome director and even taught us great routines for warming up our bodies and voices.

As soon as the student audiences saw the show, we were given a huge round of applause. We were all very proud of all our hard-earned gifts. Some of us were amazed at how far we had gone with this work and what we had just completed. We all agree that this was an overall wonderful time, and we would all like to do something like this again.

Alaina Nicholas, Daniel Alnajjar, Evan Shepard & Malissa Ma are students at Helmers Elementary School.

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