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Europa InCanto

Taking part in Turandot

Thanks to Europa InCanto, thousands of children are getting immersed in the magic of opera.

Europa InCanto, an arts charity based in Rome, set itself a challenge: to find an effective way to give young people a positive first experience of opera. For Europa InCanto directors Nunzia Nigro and Germano Neri, the answer lay in giving young people the chance to discover opera from the inside – not only through singing with professional artists but also by acting alongside them onstage.

In recent times, Opera, and theatre in general, have suffered from the competition of other (more popular) forms of entertainment; opera in particular is often perceived as something 'difficult', only open to a specialised public. Associazione Musicale Europa InCanto was built on the will of its founders to overcome this outdated vision. They strongly believe that opera is accessible to everyone given the right approach.

Since 2012, the project Europa InCanto has been introducing children, from 4 to 13 years old, to the fascinating world of the theatre, with a specific teaching method that makes learning fun. There are specific workshops that help teachers to learn selected parts of an opera. Teachers can then transmit this knowledge to their students, helped by Europa InCanto staff. The project end culminates with a specially adapted version of an opera presented in theatres. Students actively participate on the stage during the whole performance, next to professional opera singers, an orchestra and its conductor.

Here is a taste of Europa InCanto's most recent production, an adapted version of Turandot, Puccini's final, unfinished work, which in 2019 directly involved thousands of children. Aged between six and thirteen, they were able to get up close to the magic of opera, from following the development of the production and rehearsing their parts to going behind the scenes and finally performing on stage and in the auditorium.

Work started many months in advance when a professional singer went into schools to prepare the children and help them learn the music. The young participants were also given simple instructions to follow that allowed them to make their own costumes.

Après la session de chant, les enfants reçoivent des directives simples pour leur permettre de fabriquer leurs propres costumes.

Europa InCanto organised a tour of the production throughout Italy in 2019. These photos were taken on the day of performance at Teatro della Pergola in Florence on 7 May 2019. Conductor Germano Neri had the difficult task of keeping all the singers on the stage, in the pit and in audience together with his beat. The result was extremely touching for all those involved, not least the many children. Everyone had their own moment to go up and join the action on stage, momentarily feeling what it is like to be an opera singer. At the final curtain, the professional singers were loudly applauded by all the youngsters.

Thanks to a grant from the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, Europa InCanto will now be able to expand the reach of this project and introduce many more thousands of children to opera. Under the project title Opera InCanto, a number of institutions, theatres and cultural promoters from across the continent are teaming up with Europa InCanto to adopt and adapt these participatory performances for their own neighbourhoods. Through special training, teachers will be able to both bring opera to the classroom and take their classrooms to the opera. One thing is for sure: the young people involved are not likely to forget the day they took part in opera for themselves!

Opera InCanto Partners; Oper Leipzig, Croatian National Theatre in Split, Orquestra Reino de Aragón, Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC), ‘Quendra Gjenerata e re’ New Generation.