“Hearing the voice for the first time, their mouths just dropped open and they giggled because they didn’t know what else to do. Opera has a really strong physical presence so it sort of hits you in the face when you hear it. Those students were really quite taken aback by the sound that these singers were making,” says Ioanna Salmanidis, Victorian Opera’s Education Officer.

Students in Victorian Opera’s 2018 Access All Areas: Livestream Program Photo supplied

She has had ample time to observe the effect that opera has on students through the company’s Access All Areas: Livestream Program. Run for the first time last year, primary school students across Victoria were introduced to the art form through a series of interactive workshops livestreamed direct to classrooms. Cast and crew were on hand to illuminate different aspects of the creative process, from what’s required in rehearsal to lighting design and the construction of sets, with workshops also taking place in front of a live audience of primary school students. This comprehensive introduction to opera culminated in a livestreamed performance of Hansel and Gretel. The program reached over 1400 students from 40 primary schools.