Chicago school kids stage an opera

June 2, 2010 (CHICAGO)

At the Frank Reilly Elementary School on the Northwest Side, just for Wednesday morning, the auditorium was turned into a day at the opera. Third and Fourth graders performed their original version of Jason and the Golden Fleece. Linden Christ of Chicago Opera Theater produced it.

"They've been working for an entire year learning about opera. This is their culmination project where they get to perform ... they have the lead roles," said Christ.

They took popular opera melodies and wrote their own lyrics and then choreographed their own dances to tell the story of an ancient Greek hero named Jason.

"He was a man who wanted to capture the golden fleece, and he wanted to be king," said Brandon Wilson, fifth grade opera fan.

But Jason couldn't capture the Golden Fleece all alone. So he hired a bunch of Argonauts.

"An Argonaut is a person that accompanied Jason on his quest to find the Golden Fleece," said Veranice Alfaro, fifth grade opera lover.

This is an opera, so there is lots of violent turmoil and romance, but it's not easy being one of Jason's girlfriends.

"He's a cheater," said Jessenia Quilex, who plays a girlfriend of Jason.

The Golden Fleece. That sounds like it might have had something to do with the big banks and our economic problems, or maybe even Chicago politics. But no. The Golden Fleece is even much more unbelievable than that.

"The Golden Fleece is the skin of a lamb and it was gold. They skinned the lamb and they hung it on a tree and whoever got the fleece would be protected. So everyone was after it and everyone wanted its magical powers," said Kanila Postolowicz, a fifth grade golden fleece expert.

And, of course, Jason ended up with it and everyone lived happily ever after.

Luciano Pavoratti would be proud.

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