Waikele Elementary Students Create, Perform Their Own Opera

Hawaii Opera Theatre has given elementary students from Waikele Elementary School the opportunity to write songs and perform in the school’s cafeteria this Friday for two stagings of No More Mr. Bad Wolf.

It will be a school-only performance, exclusively for students, parents and families.

“The students write the poetry that gets paired with operatic music in order to create an opera based on the Hawaii State Performance Standards,” explained Dean Hamane, a Waikele third-grade teacher.

The students wrote the lyrics for the show, and HOT set them to famous opera songs, including solos, chorus and a combination of both.

“One of the things we find when we’re working with grade-level students is that quite often the kids that we end up choosing through an audition process are kids who don’t necessarily always do well academically or behaviorally,” explained Erik Haines, director of education and outreach at HOT. “This is a place where some of those kids who don’t necessarily excel in other traditional school areas can do well in the arts.”

Haines also found that the HOT Opera Residency helps to boost confidence within students.

“They end up in one of these shows, and they come out of it with a different perspective and have a lot more confidence,” he said. “A lot of them also learn how to apply themselves better, which carries over into academic life. They’re forced to memorize something and are asked to perform at a higher level.”

Hamane agrees and said that this process is important. “Being part of a student-created opera provides the kids who don’t shine as far as academics the opportunity to shine on stage.”

Students from Waikele Elementary made a great impression on Haines and the rest of the staff at HOT.

“There are a lot of really good voices, and we’re impressed with the singing and also very impressed with how creative the kids and teachers have been in creating a 30-minute piece of art that also ties into their curriculum in the classroom,” Haines said.

Aina Haina Elementary is also working with the HOT Opera Residency and will perform Aida May 16.

HOT is located at 848 S. Beretania St. in Honolulu. Call 596-7372 or visit hawaiiopera.org for more information.