Students at Springer School and Center enjoyed working with two members of the Cincinnati Opera during the 2013-14 Norita Aplin Musician in Residence Program. Contralto La’Shelle Allen and Bass-Baritone Claude Cassion met with every classroom at Springer to share their love for opera, and then worked with a select group of Intermediate students to prepare for their performance of a simplified version of The Magic Flute at the holiday assembly on the last day before Winter Break.
Allen and Cassion performed at Springer last spring, and the students enjoyed their visit so much that the singers were invited to return as Musicians in Residence for this school year. Allen made her debut with Houston Grand Opera in the ensemble of Show Boat, and is looking forward to her participation with Cincinnati Opera for the 2013-14 season. Later this year, she will join the American Spiritual Ensemble for a tour in Spain. Cassion made his Cincinnati Opera debut in 2012 when he played the role of Doctor Grenville in La Traviata. He will be singing in several of Cincinnati Opera's productions this season as well.
During her stay at Springer, Allen received news that she will be performing at the Royal Danish Theatre this year, in 30 performances of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. She announced her good news at the holiday assembly.
“We tried to make the residency fun for the students, and started with games to loosen them up,” said Allen and Cassion about their work with the young performers. The students learned lines, songs and action for their production, and wrote several of their own arrangements of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in small groups. Allen and Cassion’s goals for the students was that they would learn about Mozart’s life, and come to see themselves as arrangers, having that in common with the famous composer.
“It was fulfilling to see the kids retaining the information they learned about Mozart and about opera,” said Cassion. “You could see it sticking with them.” Allen agreed. “It made me cry to see how well they had memorized their parts,” she said. “Many of the children memorized long passages of information, without being prompted to do so. There was an enthusiasm in their presentation that will surely stay with me in my memories of my time here.”
Established in 1998, The Norita Aplin Musician in Residence Program honors former Springer Executive Director Dr. Norita Aplin for her 14 years of leadership at Springer. Dr. Aplin and her husband Stanley Ragle were in attendance for the students’ final performance.