Opera isn’t just for the couture crowd.

  • In fact, Opéra Louisiana invites its audience to wear jeans to its performances, including the Nov. 15 production of “The Magic Flute” at First Baptist Church. And it works.
  • “At the end of last year’s school performances, we had reached 20,000 kids in the area,” says Leanne Clement, Opéra Louisiane’s executive director. “And the 8-year-olds who came to these programs when we started them eight years ago are now 16. That’s amazing to think about.”

The idea behind the Young People’s Opera program is to reach out to children.

In addition to the Nov. 15 performance, two school performances will be held Nov. 13-14 for some 3,000 students in fourth through sixth grades from throughout Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes. The school performances are free and offered to all schools — public, parochial, private and homeschool students — on a first-come, first-serve basis.

New this year for the Nov. 15 show, and as enticing as attending in your favorite pair of jeans, is that Frankie’s Dawg House will be selling hot dogs, bratwurst and nachos.

  • But it’s the show, one of three productions in Opéra Louisiane’s Young People’s Opera Program, that’s the draw, Clement says.

“‘The Magic Flute’ is the kids’ favorite,” Clement says. “It’s a fantasy, and the story line is somewhat convoluted, but it resonates with them.”

Though Mozart’s work premiered in 1791, this version contains some modern references.

The composer’s sense of humor shines through in this story of Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue Princess Pamina. Along the way he meets the comical Papageno and is challenged by the Queen of the Night.

“And the Queen of the Night’s aria is one of the most famous in opera history,” Clement says. “It’s something I wait for. I love hearing it each time.”

  • The Young People’s Opera cast usually is made up of students in the LSU Opera program, but LSU’s opera schedule conflicted with Opéra Louisiane’s this fall.
  • “So, we have a lot of cast members who are new to Opéra Louisiane for this show, and we’re excited to introduce them to our Baton Rouge audiences,” Clement says. “We’re going to have some great performances, and the kids are going to have a lot of fun watching.”
  • For Megan Barrera, it’s the second time around. She played the young princess Pamina when Opéra Louisiane did the show in 2011. She was an LSU student back then, when Dennis Jesse directed the show, as he’s doing again this year.

“Megan lives in Tampa, Florida, now, but she’s returned to do the opera again,” says Clement. “This time she’s playing the first lady of the opera’s three ladies.”

  • CAST: Kameron Lopreore, Tamino; Marie Marquis, Pamina; Erik Erlandson, Papageno; MacKenzie Rose Covington, Queen of the Night; Travis Richter, Monostatos; Matthew Edward Turner, Sarastro; Laura Estrada, Papagena; Megan Barrera, First Lady; Ariana Douglas, Second Lady; Charis Peden, Third Lady; Jenee Luquette, First Spirit; Jessica Witkowski, Second Spirit; Alexandra Hollerman, Third Spirit; Charles Moore, First Priest; Brad Baron, Second Priest. Dancers provided by Dance Center and School for the Performing Arts, Jennifer White, director.
  • ARTISTIC STAFF: Dennis Jesse, director; Michael Borowitz, conductor.