Congruent with the public performances of Musicales and Operas is an education program, presented to the underserved communities in the Morris County and other areas. Our singers, in the past, have visited selected venues to give lectures/demonstrations of the opera to be performed with the goal of providing an informative introduction both to the specific musicale and to the world of opera at large. Linked to these visits are special offers made to Senior Care Facilities to facilitate these communities in attending performances or, in some cases, provide free access to future performances.
In 2013, Opera at Florham, in collaboration with NJ Festival Orchestra, launched an ambitious outreach program to serve both the children’s community at large, and the underserved and disadvantaged segment of that community in NJ. This involved the presentation of a ground breaking “in house” educational renditions of Hansel and Gretel at Newark JFK Special Needs School for a 100 severely mentally and physically handicapped children. Additionally, they performed to a further 300 students of Woodland Elementary School in Morristown and at Newark Arts High.
In 2014, Opera at Florham and NJ Festival Orchestra continued to serve the mission of the Student Outreach Program with performances of La Cenerentola (Cinderella) to three separate schools. Cinderella was performed at JFK Special Needs School and Newark Arts High, both in Newark. Additionally, the Opera was brought to Marie Duffy Grammar School in Wharton where about 500 students attended the performance.
“Marie Duffy Grammar School, Wharton, was a success today and the children were well behaved, considering K-5, with about 500 of them for almost an hour. There was a group of about 10 autistic children with their aides as well. You will see by the photos that the costumes and antics of the 2 mean sisters was very appealing to the children. David Wroe, OAF’s Artistic Director and Conductor of NJ Festival Orchestra, Westfield, spoke, narrated & explained to the children as the show went along. He really related to the young children by telling them to ‘boo’ the mean stepsisters and father for their treatment of Cinderella. There were comments to us later of how they liked the program. This school was chosen by the Education Director, Barbara Reuther, Morris Arts Council, as fulfilling our request for a school in an underserved area. The Principal, Pamela Blalock, is very supportive of all the arts. She explained to us today that the school is a microcosm of many nations (Asians, Hispanic, etc.), some students cannot speak English, must have English as Second Language Teachers as part of her program, many aides assist in the classroom who speak Spanish, etc. This program was also presented to 2 schools in Newark: Arts High and JFK School for the Developmentally Disabled. ” – Joan Del Giudice, Opera at Florham President
This outstanding outreach program garnered the attention Morris County newspaper, The Daily Record, and the 2014 performance of Cinderella at Marie Duffy School was highlighted in an article written by Mike Izzo.
Funding has been made possible in part by funds from the Morris Arts Council through the New Jersey State Council of the Arts Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.