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Global Summer Camp Nurtures Opera's Next Generation

Child smiling while having virtual experience  Child smiling while wearing a hat  Child wearing a mask

The summer is usually a quieter time at the Met, but this year, because of the pandemic, we engaged and built a new opera audience who will carry on the love of the art form long after this crisis is a memory.

One of the highlights of our summer was a free, online camp that reached children from an audience that went far beyond the expected North America and Europe. The camp included a diverse group from countries such as Kenya, India, Malaysia, and Peru. General Manager Peter Gelb explained the genesis of the program, “At a time when students’ usual summer activities are being significantly curtailed, we’re happy to be providing them with some operatic fun and education.” Watch the highlights of the Met's 2020 Global Summer Camp.

Over 3,400 children attended the camp, which ran five days a week from June 15 through August 7, and was divided into two cohorts of students—ages 8 to 12 and 13 to 18—with curriculum adapted to each group. Every Monday, students were introduced to a featured opera from the Met’s digital library. These included Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Dvořák’s Rusalka, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, and Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

The Met’s online teaching artists encouraged students to delve into each opera, with a choice of hands-on, creative activities such as designing costumes, making puppets, and songwriting. The students communicated with their teachers and counselors through Zoom or Google Classroom. There were opportunities for small groups to speak directly with Met artists and other luminaries about their careers, including singers like Eric Owens and Isabel Leonard, women’s wardrobe supervisor Susan Gomez-Pizzo, animal trainer Nancy Novograd, and a special session with Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo memorably explained how his voice type works while he made cookies with the children, complete with an aria while the snacks were in the oven. The older campers made up superhero names, designed costumes, and wrote theme songs for their counselors. The camp created an amazing community of young opera lovers, many of whom may be the only one in their hometown with this passion. These bonds will last and will build the next generation of opera artists and aficionados. By popular demand, we are planning to continue the program next summer.

This fall, the Met launched a new, all-online version of the HD Live in Schools program in 56 school districts in 42 states. Unlike past seasons, in which students and teachers watched the Met’s scheduled Live in HD operas, this year they received free subscriptions to Met Opera on Demand, the Met’s extensive streaming service of Live in HD presentations, classic telecasts, and radio broadcasts, and were provided with curricular materials for 10 operas from the Met Opera on Demand catalogue. The program, which uses opera to enrich educational studies, will serve approximately 15,000 elementary, middle, and high school students.

The crisis has reminded the Met of how fortunate we are to have such loyal and generous supporters, and has given us an opportunity to reach out in unprecedented ways to new fans from around the world to build a sustainable future for the Met and opera. To support these efforts or another program at the Met that touches you, please contact Pamela Bennett at 212-870-7388 or