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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we’re talking to third-year usher Chelsea Guzman, who calls Brooklyn home.

Who inspires you?
I inspire myself! I don't mean for that to sound conceited—I believe in always being proud of my accomplishments. It's hard for many people to acknowledge how amazing they are, and I don't want to be like that.

What's your fondest childhood memory?
The day I learned to love books. As a kid I didn't enjoy reading, but I remember the day that my first grade teacher started reading us a Junie B. Jones book by Barbara Park, and after that day I completely fell in love with those books. It was the storylines that intrigued me, and how realistic and relatable the books were to me at that age. No one could get me away from books after that!

What was your favorite story as a kid?
Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business by Barbara Park was my favorite book as a kid. I first read this book around the time my little brother was born. Coincidentally, in the book, Junie B. was also introduced to her new baby brother! It was funny to consider how mad she was about it, compared to my happiness over my own brother.

What are your favorite subjects in school?
My two favorite subjects are English and Math. As much as I love reading, I also love to write. Describing my life as if it were a book is a natural instinct to me. I actually didn't enjoy Math before high school, but once I began to understand the subject, it became really fun.

How would you describe your personal style?
I would say my personal style consists of a bit of everything. What I wear depends on the occasion, or on how I'm feeling that day. Lipstick, however, is never missing from my bag!

What's your favorite place to eat or grab food near the theater?
I always bring my own food—my mom's cooking is my favorite. The only thing I really do enjoy nearby are Crumbs' muffins, just a few doors down!

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not at work?
I like to go to the gym occasionally, or sit somewhere like Central Park to read a book.

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
Central Park is so beautiful and the perfect place to hang out. Greenwich Village is perhaps my favorite neighborhood, though, simply because it's one of Manhattan's calmer areas.

What's the most challenging thing about being an usher?
Sometimes it's hard to balance home life and school work with work at the theater. It can be hard to come in with a lot of energy. It gets easier, though, once I realize how excited families are to be here.

What's your dream vacation?
Ever since I came back from Disneyland, I've dreamt of going back! Therefore, two weeks in Disneyland and a trip to Universal Studios again would be the best thing ever.
 
Posted by Zack Ramadan

You, too, can become an opera fan! Lots of people immediately write off opera, saying that they don't understand it, or that opera's a highfalutin' art form that feels irrelevant. We at the New Vic are rethinking these stereotypes and offer invigorating re-interpretations of classics in our season—Isango Ensemble's adaptation of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream is a shining example of just that! But there are also a number of ways to make traditional opera feel fun, exciting and accessible.

If you and your family will be attending your first opera at the New Vic this month, but are feeling trepidatious about your ten-year-old's reaction to Titania and Oberon, read our Ten Commandments for Watching Opera below. A little preparation will help you to get the most out of your experience!


I. Thou might already be a fan

Opera pops up everywhere—from Skittles commercials to internet memes, so there's really no reason to feel intimidated!

Mozart portrait meme: If you ever feel back about procrastinating, just remember that Mozart wrote the overture to Don Giovanni the morning it premiered.


II. Thou shalt honor the music

The great part about opera is that the music says it all! Even if the set design, costuming or lighting is gorgeous, opera is first and foremost about the music, and painstakingly composed works communicate emotions and story through music alone (the rest is just extra!). As The New York Times put it, "in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first."


III. Thou shalt not worry about hearing every word

Many operas are in foreign languages, but even those sung in your native tongue can be tough to understand. Opera singers do their best when it comes to diction, but part of opera singing technique requires singers to modify spoken pronunciation in order to sound their best (especially on the high notes). Let the music tell the story if you're feeling lost.


IV. Thou shalt not listen to stereotypes

"It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." Ugh... When you become a fan, you'll realize that opera is way more than some stereotypes make it out to be. The prima donna is not necessarily temperamental—she's just the chief female singer—and her fellow divas may well be humbled by their fame!


V. Thou shalt get to know the classics

As an opera beginner, your best plan for getting to know the art form is to start with the classics. Find a playlist below that we curated, and have a listen. You'll hear favorite songs, many of which we'll bet you've heard before!

 

VI. Thou shalt have an opinion

Sometimes there's the misconception that just because something is lauded as a "classic," you have to like it. Listen to or go see a few operas and decide what you like—a crisp Mozart tune is very different from a undulating Puccini score.


VII. Thou shalt know the singers

It's hard to go wrong when seeing any trained, professional opera singer perform live. But hardcore opera buffs will go to shows just to hear certain singers. Here are a few names to get you started: Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Maria Callas, Renee Fleming, Anna Netrebko.


VIII. Thou shalt know the vocabulary

Here's a list of terms that will help you on your first trip to the opera (click to enlarge).


IX. Thou shalt know the composers

Most of the famous composers that you can name probably wrote an opera, but there were a few that really perfected the medium. While Beethoven wrote one opera, symphonies were more his specialty. Who are considered the best opera composers, then? Mozart, Wagner, Verdi, Rossini, and Puccini are recognized as a few of the greats.


X. Thou shalt avoid snobbery

When you've become an opera fan, make sure you spread the love, and help people understand that opera isn't high-brow and stuffy! There's nothing wrong with getting your Wagner knowledge from the Looney Tunes episode when Elmer Fudd sings "kill the wabbit" to the tune of "Die Walkure."
 

Editor's Note: This post was originally written by Hillary Reeves and first appeared on our blog during our 2014-15 Season, in advance of Isango Ensemble's The Magic Flute.
 
Posted by Zack Ramadan
Tags: 2015-16, opera
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