As they prepare for the trials of fire and water in The Magic Flute, Pamina and Tamino sing
We walk, by the power of music,
in joy through death’s dark night.
Tomorrow we’ll read that (here the narrator inserts the name of any work on the same program) made tulips grow in my garden and altered the flow of the ocean currents. We must believe it is true.
And last Friday, Bruce Olstad, teaching artist in San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera Junior program, wrote
On this night of hopelessness and wordless grief, I found myself driving to lead Otak Jump’s 4th & 5th grade class in a performance we’ve been working on together for the last ten weeks: an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with songs from Purcell’s The Fairy Queen.
That’s right – 4th & 5th graders memorizing an hour’s worth of Shakespeare’s poetry and Purcell’s music.
And suddenly, I find hope again in that school auditorium. Young people, working to capacity and beyond, creating something beautiful together. The exact opposite of what happened in Paris – its antithesis and its antidote.
It may be that no one ever stopped a war by putting on a play or opera. But how many hardened, warlike hearts are opened, softened, and expanded by experiencing our shared humanity through the arts?
Shakespeare’s Puck says, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” All of us, in the same boat, leaky as it may be. All of us capable of great foolishness, of great courage, of great ugliness, of great beauty.
Shine your lights most brightly now, artists! And to all, be fierce for the arts and arts education! The world depends on it.
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