NYC’s schools closed due to the COVID 19 pandemic the week the three first grade classes at the Brooklyn Children’s School were scheduled to perform their operas, which the children had written and composed themselves. I still held out hope at the time that the performances would only be postponed. But schools will remain closed for the rest of the term. The performances won’t happen.
So now, as a poor substitute, I am sharing – in three posts, one for each class – the stories and the music of the three first grade operas that never got their day on the stage. The children have their scripts at home with them, but with this they now also have recordings of their songs to share and sing along.
Just like in class, every recording will start with three piano chords to get ready before the melody starts and you can sing along (or simply follow along reading the score). I used a different “instrument” from my keyboard’s sound library for each melody. For Class 1-2’s songs I used “Flute”, “Gospel Organ”, Marimba”, “Trumpet”, “Rich Strings” and “Horn”. Can you guess which sound is the melody for which song?
CLASS 1-2 OPERA
Class 1-2 also cast their opera with a dragon and a big cat, a jaguar in this story. The other main characters are the Earth, the Moon, and, making a surprise cameo appearance at the end, the Sun.
This opera wound up being one of the most sublimely odd operas first graders have concocted in twenty years at the Children’s School.
The story begins with the Moon and the Earth. Specifically the Moon telling the Earth why it is angry. The Moon is jealous of the Earth’s bountiful life, when all the Moon has is dead rocks.
CLASS 1-2 OPERA
SONG #1 – MOON AND EARTH
Meanwhile the Jaguar wants to be friends with the Dragon. But the Dragon believes jaguars turn dragons into chickens.
SONG #2 – I DON’T WANT TO BE A CHICKEN
Getting away from the Jaguar, the Dragon flies all the way to the Moon, where it slips on moon ice.
The Moon is not amused.
SONG #3 – SLIPPED ON THE MOON’S ICE
Meanwhile the Earth is hungry. The Moon suggests the Earth eats some of its own plants, but the Earth already thinks too many of its trees are being cut down so people can make boxes and papers and things they don’t need.
Instead the Earth eats a big mouthful of moon rocks.
The Moon gets very upset.
SONG #4 – BOOM BOOM CRASH SMASH (Part 1)
The Moon says “I’m going to smash you in a flash!” and starts attacking the Earth.
The Jaguar sees this, and drinks special pond water* to get super powers so it can bounce off the Earth and stop the Moon.
At first the Jaguar successfully keeps the Moon from crashing into the Earth.
But then the Moon says “Look over there! There is a floating superhero on a trampoline!”
The Jaguar is distracted and the Moon slips past and smashes into the Earth:
SONG #4 – BOOM BOOM CRASH SMASH (Part 2)
A big smash tornado hurls the Dragon and Jaguar all about. They land upside down on top of each other. The Dragon fears it’ll turn into a chicken now, but it doesn’t.
So Dragon and Jaguar become friends and play.
Meanwhile the Earth feels really hurt.
SONG #5 – WHY DID YOU CRASH INTO ME, MOON?
But the Moon is in even worse shape. Half the Moon’s body is cracked and floating about in space.
At this point the Sun rises and sings:
SONG #6 – A NEW DAY
The Sun gives Earth and Moon and good and sensible talking to: “It’s a brand new day for a fresh start. Please think about your life. Stop this fight. It’s time to make it right.”
The Sun asks Earth to help the Moon become full again. Earth collects all the broken pieces and glues them back together again.
Finally the Moon and the Earth are getting along again and the Jaguar and Dragon go to the International Space Café for a space meal.
SONG #6 – A NEW DAY (Finale)
*Incidentally, magic pond water is an even greater plot point for Class 1-3’s opera. I assume the idea originated there first before being shared with a class 1-2 friend or sibling, but I can’t be certain. Maybe the ideas sprung up simultaneously, independently. Maybe it was just something in the water.