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Childrens Opera returns to UC Merced

Community show on May 16


The annual Childrens Opera is back, and as usual, with the brand new, original, piece, “The Emperor’s New Threads.”

This play was written by Nancy Steele-Brokaw, and is directed by the organization’s founding member and performer Jenni Samuelson, and produced in collaboration with Parie Fire Theatre.

This week, the Children’s Opera was holding student performances each morning for approximately 3,000 kids from kindergarten through the 3rd grade across the valley. However, we all are invited to attend a free community performance on Friday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m., which will feature a special presentation from the Merced Children’s Holiday Choir.

“I want to encourage families to come on down at 6:30 for a Friday night— it is only a 45 minute show, parking is free, and close to the new venue,” says Director Jenni Samuelson. “It should be a beautiful night to visit the campus and see something new. … And I don’t want anyone scared off by the word ‘Opera’—opera is fun. It’s classical music, completely interpolated into an age appropriate, silly, fun, engaging story—with incredible compositions from Puccini, Mozart and Verde. And these are tunes they are going to hear again in commercials, movies, and, perhaps, even a symphony or an opera performance. They are songs that are heavily integrated in our culture.”

Notably, this year’s show will be the first taking place indoors since they had to move outside to comply with covid related policies. It will be taking place in the brand new UC Merced Conference Center. For those concerned with parking, Bellevue Lot (the main entrance parking lot across from the recreational field) will be open and free for public use. Also, a new feature of the production is having it translated live into Sign Language Interpreted

“The Emperor’s New Threads” is a fun, cautionary tale, that shows you the importance of those that you surround yourself with. That, paired with the incredible cast consisting of UC Merced professors, students, and alumni, people of all ages are sure to have a great time.

“What’s the truth when you don’t like the truth? Emperor Worcestershire means to be a good Emperor but his love of clothes gets in the way. Hood and Winkie, a pair of swindlers, show up with a promise to weave the realm’s most unique fabric and make it into a dazzling garment just for him. They even guarantee their fabric is invisible to those who are unworthy. The weaving begins but, if one is to be honest, their ‘fabric’ looks an awful lot like air. And who wants to admit they are unworthy? Certainly not the Emperor (especially at those prices) and his royal advisors lack the courage to speak the truth. And that’s how the Emperor ends up in parading in his underwear for the Feast Day Parade. Will anyone ever speak up?”

The UC Merced Children’s Opera is supported and made possible by UC Merced, The Merced County Office of Education, the Merced County Education Foundation, the Betty Scalice Foundation, the Coastal Community Foundation, and the Levitt Foundation.

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