Stage Door News

Toronto: The COC introduces “Opera Makers: Activities for Young Creatives”

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Canadian Opera Company is launching a new eight-week video series, created specifically with young people ages 7 to 12 in mind. Opera Makers: Activities for Young Creatives dives into the various art forms that make up an opera. Each week, Canada’s top teaching artists will cover a range of topics, from singing and composing to movement and set design, through bite-sized, interactive videos. Parents and guardians can sign up at to have each mini-lesson delivered straight to their inbox.

“As many families continue to find themselves in a learn-from-home scenario, we wanted to provide hands-on tutorials for young people that would spark imagination and develop their creative skills,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “We are lucky to collaborate with some of the best teaching artists around, who are experts in their respective fields; they designed Opera Makers as a way of building appreciation for the art form by starting with the fundamentals.”

Parents and guardians who share participants’ weekly creations and learnings on social media, tagging @canadianopera and including #OperaMakers in the post, will be entered in a weekly draw to win a voucher to a Canadian Opera Company production of their choice in the 2020/2021 season. 

To kick off the series, the Toronto Star is hosting a special livestream at with soprano and COC teaching artist Makenzie Morgan on May 20, 2020 at 1 p.m. ET. Morgan will preview skills from her “Sing Like an Opera Singer” lesson, featured in Week 2 of the program.

The full Opera Makers schedule is as follows:

May 20, 2020 – Tongue Twisters

For opera singers, it’s not always about singing the loudest; it’s also about singing the clearest. Soprano Karine White uses a series of tongue twisters to teach kids the concept of diction and what kinds of exercises an opera singer might use to warm-up before singing.

May 27, 2020 – Sing Like an Opera Singer

No musical experience is required to take part in this opera exploration! Soprano Makenzie Morgan will lead participants through some of her favourite vocal wcocarm-ups and exercises, using a famous aria that will sound familiar to many people: the ‘Habanera’ from the opera blockbuster Carmen

June 3, 2020 – Music and Motifs

What’s the difference between a melody and a motif? Composer Saman Shahi will explain all, using simple rhythms and tunes to teach some of the fundamentals of music composition. At the end, young participants will apply what they’ve learned to create a musical piece of their own.

June 10, 2020 – Setting the Stage

There’s more to opera than performing  creating a visual world for characters to exist in is also an important part of any production. Guided by designer Sonja Rainey, kids will learn the basics of opera set design before making their own model set using materials found around the house.

June 17, 2020 – Let’s Talk Opera!

When it comes to opera, many people are familiar with “arias”  or the big, musical moments – but in this lesson, director and opera singer Renee Salewski introduces participants to another important element called “recitative,” which uses sung conversations to move along the story on stage. 

June 24, 2020 – Composer’s Corner

Opera can be sung in any number of languages – but you don’t need to understand the words to feel the emotions through the music. Composer Chris Thornborrow leads this session on “word painting”, inviting participants to create a melody that reflects their feelings and experiences.

July 2, 2020 – Brain & Body Boost

Performing can take a lot out of an artist! With new music created for this program and performed by composer Roydon Tse, dancer Annemarie Cabri will demonstrate expressive movement techniques that anyone – especially kids – can use to unwind and relax.

July 8, 2020 – Aria Mad Libs

This week puts our teaching artists’ creativity to the test  with the help of some audience participation! Using the craziest words submitted by participants, opera singer Karine White and pianist Vlad Soloviev will put together a “Mad Libs”-style opera aria for the series’ grand finale.

The Opera Makers series is also accessible via the COC’s Digital Content Hub at, which houses the company's full catalogue of #OperaAtHome clips, an ongoing “At Home With…” profile series, and information on other COC digital programming that audiences can take part in from anywhere in the world.