Students performing Carmen to celebrate 20 years
By Mark Newman, News staff
It was around Christmas when Nathalie Robinson-Evans got the good news.
The 11-year-old Grade 6 student was picked to play the lead character in the Buchanan Park school opera club’s presentation of Carmen early next month.
“When I first heard I got really excited because I’ve never been a lead before,” said Robinson-Evans, who played background characters in school operas the last two years.
The youngster said she loves to put on costumes and perform in front of an audience and is looking forward to working in the guise of Carmen.
“It’s definitely going to be scary, but it’s going to be really fun at the same time,” she said.
Carmen is a four act opera by French composer Georges Bizet and it tells the story of Don Jose, a soldier, who is seduced by the wiley Carmen.
This is the third time the Buchanan Park school opera club has staged the popular opera and school music teacher Dawn Martens said they picked Carmen to celebrate the club’s 20th anniversary.
“I can’t believe how time flies,” Martens said. “It’s been a great journey.”
Martens said the club’s annual shows, which include about 200 students on and off the stage, would not be possible without the support of the community
She noted some parents and even grandparents help with the stage and set construction and costume making.
Martens said the school opera club began 20 years ago after a trip to Opera Hamilton.
One of the students suggested the school stage its own operas and they’ve been performing each spring ever since.
“I don’t get tired of it,” Martens said. “The kids energize you; working with these kids is like a perpetual fountain of youth because they bring out the youth in you.”
Martens noted opera taps into a youngster’s creative side and when the show finally reaches the stage after many weeks of rehearsing it serves as a tangible example of how all of their hard work has paid off.
Rogan Tydd-Whiting played the Don Jose character in the school’s 2005 edition of Carmen and his sister Rhandall was Buchanan Park’s first Carmen in 1997.
For the past three years the 19-year-old makeup artistry and aesthetics student at Mohawk College has been returning to the west Mountain school to help with the opera first as a choreographer and this year as assistant director.
Tydd-Whiting said he didn’t know anything about opera until he got involved in the opera club which he credits for giving him confidence and “a love of opera.”
He said this year’s show will feature Carmen with more of a modern twist.
“We’ve taken some of the best elements of the original and some of the best from the 2005 revival.”
The Buchanan Park opera club is staging five performances of Carmen; May 1 at 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., May 2 at 7 p.m. and May 3 at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets are $5 and can be ordered through the school at 905-387-5212.