For the 13th year, a children's opera takes the stage at UC Merced for the young and young at heart.
The UC Merced Children's Opera presentation of "The Emperor's New Threads," a new take on a classic story, is open to schoolchildren and the general public as part of an effort to expose Merced County youth to the arts while welcoming children to campus.
From May 16-19, about 3,000 students in pre-kindergarten to third grade will attend school performances at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. each day. A sign language interpreter will be available at the second show on May 17. The performances are offered to schools free of cost.
Schoolchildren won't be the only ones taking part in the fun. The community is invited to attend a public performance at 6:30 p.m. on May 19. The Merced Children's Choir will be featured in the show as well. Admission is free, and parking will also be free in the Bellevue Lot starting at 6 p.m.
This is the first year the opera will be presented inside the UC Merced Conference Center.
"The Emperor's New Threads" focuses on the courage that is needed to speak up and tell the truth, even when the truth may be unpopular. Featuring hilarious misunderstandings, surprising plot twists and beautiful music, the message of the performance will have the audience both amused and amazed.
The opera is written by Nancy Steele Brokaw, and features music by Handel, Mozart, Verdi and Sullivan. It also features professional opera singers Uriah Brown and Stephen Mouillesseaux.
This year marks the largest participation of UC Merced students, with three current students and two alumni performing in a variety of roles, as well as six current students assisting with the Merced Children's Choir. UC Merced students and alumni Estefani Cruz Cruz, Junior Cruz Mercado, Clestina Kelso, Lois Lopez and German Paniagua are featured. Jenni Samuelson, continuing lecturer in music, is directing this year's production, while Darrel Lingenfelter is serving as the music director.
In 2021, the UC Merced Children's Opera team pivoted and created a virtual "opera-tunity" with "Save the Dragons," which was seen by more than 20,000 students throughout California. Other productions of the Children's Opera include "There's a Martian in the Opera House" (2016), "Who Stole B-flat?" (2017) and "How to be a Superhero" (2022).
The project is sponsored by UC Merced, the Merced County Office of Education, the Merced County Education Foundation, the Betty Scalice Foundation and the Levitt Foundation.
Anyone seeking more information about the Children's Opera is asked to email Jenni Samuelson.