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Normandy Schools Collaborative raises curtain on student opera with help of Opera Theatre St. Louis

“A student who's active in the arts, be it dance theater, music, or orchestra, they are going to perform better in school," OTSL's Allison Felter said.

ST. LOUIS — On Tuesday the Normandy Schools Collaborative raised the curtain for their very own opera written by their students with the help of Opera Theatre St. Louis.

This was a very special show for these kids, their families and the Normandy Schools Collaborative as they work to rebuild their music and arts program which took a hit during the pandemic.

Their opera called The Big Bad Day is based on the book, ‘The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.’

“It was about the wolf who said it was not his fault that the houses fell down. He did not huff and puff and mean to blow them down, but that he had some problems, and he was looking for some help,” Normandy Schools Collaborative Fine Arts Director Suzanne Palmer said.

Fourth grader Aiden Westbrook plays The Big Bad Wolf.

“The wolf is over here. Like bro, what is happening? Like, I didn't do anything wrong. I just have allergies,” Westbrook said.

Palmer said the book got the ideas flowing and with the help of an Opera Theatre of St. Louis Teaching Artist Valerie Lynn Smith they brought the kids’ words to life.

“She came in and wrote the libretto with the children and so, every time they would throw out an idea, you know, she would write, they would write, I would write it was a very collaborative effort,” Palmer said.

Westbrook said he helped write several lines and make suggestions in the show. 

Students from other Normandy Schools also got to be part of the show playing alongside St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Musicians and working with University of Missouri- St. Louis staff backstage.

“A student who's active in the arts, be it dance theater, music, or orchestra, they are going to perform better in school and just watching these kids grow from the very beginning to absolutely owning the stage. It has been such a joy,” OTSL Director of Education and Engagement Allison Felter said.

It was a free show on Tuesday and the only performance they will put on, but they want to continue growing the arts program at Normandy Schools and donations will help them do that.

Checks can be made out to Normandy Schools Collaborative, write Fine Arts in the memo line and mail to 3855 Lucas and Hunt Road, St. Louis, MO 63121 Attn: Fine Arts Department.

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