OperaDelaware (Wilmington, DE)


  Children dressed in costumes play the part of dwarfs A line of children in full costume play the part of elfs

Opera Delaware's Family Opera Theater production of The Hobbit presents opera to more than 9,000 students, many for the first time. Photo by Mark Garvin

Founded in 1945, OperaDelaware is one of the oldest opera companies in the United States. The company's 36-year-old Family Opera Theater (FOT) supports OperaDelaware's mission of introducing teachers and youth in underserved areas to opera. Each year, Family Opera Theater mounts an opera in conjunction with the reading curriculum in Delaware public schools. Previous FOT productions have included operatic versions of Charlotte's Web, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Jungle Book. FOT productions have also been performed in 30 states as well as in Canada and New Zealand.


Opera Delaware's Family Opera Theater production of The Hobbit. Photo by Mark Garvin

In FY 2004, OperaDelaware received an NEA Creativity grant of $10,000 to support FOT's production of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. More than 9,000 pre-kindergarten through eight-grade students from more than 60 schools were exposed to opera, many for the first time, through public performances of The Hobbit.

To enhance the educational aspect of FOT's project, teachers involved in the program received instructional materials for incorporating The Hobbit into arts, language arts, history, geography, math, science, economics, and physical education curricula. Classroom activities included researching and studying the novel's birds in a science class, creating a Hobbit-inspired business in an economics class, and designing shoebox stage sets in a visual arts class. In order to familiarize students with general opera concepts, FOT also provided teachers with educational materials, including a map of the different parts of the stage, a chart of backstage personnel with job descriptions, and a compact disc of selected music from the opera.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)