Kids Tune In to Rocky, Bullwinkle--and Opera

Hey, Rocky, what do you get when you mix professional opera singers with elementary school students?

What, Bullwinkle?

An Opera-tunity.

To teach, that is.

Bullwinkle, Rocky, Boris and Natasha are serving as teaching tools in an art outreach program sponsored by the LA Opera.

"Les Moose: The Operatic Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle," a commissioned work by Alan Chapman, is a tale of how the squirrel and moose must hide a secret formula for rocket fuel from spies Boris Badenov and Natasha.

The program, which brings opera professionals into 15 Los Angeles County schools for a five-week hands-on workshop, is designed to teach elementary students the basics of opera. The program ends Nov. 24.

The students attend rehearsals, create their costumes and assist with scene design. They also learn the basic terms for opera as they help create the performance, including that favorite of every performer: "Bravo!"

Jildardo Molina, a fifth-grader from San Pedro Street Elementary School, performed as one of the Bullwinkles before his schoolmates Friday.

" I like him because he's big and strong," Jildardo said. "I want my voice to sound deep like Bullwinkle's when I grow up."

Susanna Guzman, a mezzo-soprano for the LA Opera from El Sereno, said it is important for young students to learn to appreciate the arts.

"Once they get a taste of being creative," she said, "its like a delicious apple, you just want another bite."

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