The opera and the children. Interview with Georgina García-Mauriño

The opera and the children. Interview with Georgina García-Mauriño

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Georgina Garcia-Mauriño She is a writer, illustrator, and a long-time opera lover. He studied law and fashion design, but it was in the opera that he found inspiration and the path for his ideas. As a result of his fantastic stories and curious illustrations perfectly located in the collection of disco-stories Tell me an opera, she manages to bring opera to children in a simple and exciting way.

- At what point did opera enter your life? Did you go looking for her or did she come?
I discovered opera with my father, who became fond of listening to radio broadcasts that were broadcast on Saturday afternoons in the 70s. I was then a young teenager and at first they were the background of my schoolwork, but immediately the Music and the arguments that dad started telling me caught me.

- What is really behind each opera?
Behind each opera is the work of many artists who offer us all their talent but, above all, behind each opera is the emotion of the score of a composer who has been inspired by a story, some characters. That's the first thing, then comes the enormous and invaluable work of so many musicians-performers. But in order for fans to be able to attend a performance, set designers, costume designers, lighting technicians, scriptwriters ... all those who make us live those stories in the theater, and thanks to music, also intervene. exciting.

- What tools do you use to bring the plot of an opera closer to the children's understanding?
There are two main tools: synthesis and simplicity in language. Thus, when faced with a new title, the first thing I have to do is summarize the plot, as operas are far too long for a child's usual ability to concentrate. But it is not about writing the classic synopsis, but about proposing a reduced version, always faithful to the original libretto, that encourages listening to the music, which for me is the main thing. For this I follow two criteria: the first to select the musical fragments that seem most attractive to me (the most descriptive of an emotion or narrative moment, or the best known), the second to rule out situations that are difficult for a child to understand due to their particular drama . The language used in my operas as stories is always easy and direct, trying to respect the poetic, funny, or more serious character of each work.

- What does opera bring to the world of children?
Their plots are wonderful stories, often too incredible for an adult, but with all the fantasy of children's stories, and like these, operas feed children's imagination and help them discover the world and get to know each other by putting ideas and ideas in order. emotions ... Putting feelings into words helps them overcome ghosts, feel strong, helps them grow. But also, in the case of operas, music, which is a privileged language of feelings, can be the most direct way of expressing emotions (jumping, dancing, singing ...), of exploding with joy, of venting in case of disgust, to relax when the child is restless. And as if that were not enough, in the opera, in the most playful way, young people can meet great characters and myths of our western culture (Orfeo, Ulises, Don Juan, Carmen ...) that throughout their lives they will surely find again in his studies, in books, in movies ...

- In your opinion, which opera should children not miss?
What a difficult question! We each have our tastes that we define based on our personal experiences. When I go to tell an opera to the children, I always tell them that I like it very much, but that they will give me their opinion at the end because each of us listens with our ears, with our hearts, with our tastes. That is why I would like each child to have the opportunity to listen to one they like so much that they continue to discover others later. There are so many operas and they are all so different ... there are them for all tastes: adventure, love, laughter ... I try to reflect this richness by illustrating each of my operas as stories with particular lines and colors in each case. But as a fan, if I had to choose just one, I would choose Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro where there is a bit of everything, and also the most inspired music and the most ingenious plot go hand in hand in an exceptional way.

- What advice would you give to parents who want to bring their children closer to opera?
The main one is that they seek the complicity of the child by appealing to their curiosity and confidence, as if it were any other of those hobbies that you want to share. Discovering opera has to be above all a pleasure. And for that, the hopeful and frank involvement of that elder (father, grandfather, uncle ...) in whom the child trusts, with whom the child knows that he will have a good time, is essential. Because opera can be as fun as playing football, a game of Ludo, or any other fun activity.

- What can parents do to introduce their child to music, to opera?
I would start by proposing a fragment that I really liked (listen to it a couple or three times, sing it or hum it together, dance ... it's hilarious for everyone), then (if it's vocal music) I would tell you what the text says. And, in the case of opera, that is where I would advise you to take my illustrated version (if it is among my titles available on cd-story or on the internet). Later, if you liked the story, you can meet again with the music, proposing it to accompany your games or directly playing with your characters to dress up, or draw them, etc. So proposing to watch a DVD as a family can be an unforgettable experience for everyone: parents will be surprised by the attention of their children when they see their characters-friends played by real people! From there, I think that attending a show in a theater can be a real party.

- How to stimulate children's reading in a time so dominated by television and the console?
Reading is part of what today we call "cultural offer" and indeed it has to compete with a whole series of audiovisual products that are presented to us as the most attractive, the most social, what everyone practices, and so on. But we each have our own interests, and we have the right to choose. I think that the child must be shown the possibilities, everything that is in "the shop window", and set an example: I choose what I like (which does not have to be what my neighbor likes), you too you can choose. We must find a time for reading as it often seems established for other activities: the time to watch cartoons, the time to play with a console, the time to practice a sport and the time to pick up a book. But, the attractions of reading only appear when it is practiced and it is not possible to convince a child who has not seen it for himself. In this case, I advise shared reading (aloud, it is understood): finding a moment a day or a week to read a story that captures the older as much as the child is to find a moment to share an exciting adventure that it will also enrich the relationship of complicity. I started reading with my son when he started reading (then we read a chapter every night), and still today with almost 11 years we have a book that we read together during and after breakfast on Sunday.

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