Pure delight in opera for babies

Otago Daily Times reporter Catherine Pattison's daughter, Jade McLachlan (8 months), enjoys the...
Otago Daily Times reporter Catherine Pattison's daughter, Jade McLachlan (8 months), enjoys the Festival of Colour Baby O show in Wanaka yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
I was a little worried about how my baby Jade would respond to being abruptly woken from her cosy car seat to attend her first opera yesterday.

I need not have fretted, as the Scottish Opera's performance Baby O on the Festival of Colour's opening day, could have included a line from the Sound of Music song, ''these are a few of [Jade's] favourite things''.

The secret garden the three singers created in the Crystal Palace was filled with all manner of delights for its target audience of about 30, aged 6 months to 18 months.

Floating feathers went bump on the ground or splash in the sparkly river, bees buzzed on to enthralled babies' toes, while fish and ducks swam in a very, tempting-looking puddle.

All the sensory sights were accompanied by the baritone voice of Paul Carey Jones, Lise Christensen's mezzo and Miranda Sinani's soprano songs and sounds. Their genuine joy in interacting with their captivated audience was infectious and I - along with the other mothers - found myself smiling at their antics. Our wee ones enjoyed the familiar sights of daily life, like windy washing lines and stomping gumboots, which were all augmented by the lively, fun music and words based on the patterns of developing speech.

BabyO press manager Rimgaile Rimeikaite said English composer Rachel Drury had completed a PhD in early childhood language development and its connection with music.

''She found out that it would be best to get a mixture of textures, and sounds and images to capture babies' attention.''

Jade sat entranced and being presented with a plastic duck to chew on was topped only by her response to a frog umbrella in a rain scene. Pure unadulterated delight.

Baby O continues today and tomorrow in Wanaka's Crystal Palace with 9.30am and 11am shows, then moves to St Peter's Hall, Queenstown, from Friday to Sunday, with twice-daily shows at the same times.



Today's programme
Wednesday, April 17


9.30am, 11am: Baby O, Crystal Palace (music).

Noon: New Zealand Guitar Quartet, Mt Difficulty (music).

1pm: Michael Houstoun plays Beethoven, Lake Wanaka Centre (music).

7pm: ''Between Darkness and Light'', Lake Wanaka Centre (music).

7pm, 8.30pm: Salon, Flair (theatre).

7pm: On the Upside Down of the World, Luggate Hall (theatre).

7pm: Tracing Hamlet, Puzzling World (theatre).

8pm: Kings of the Gym, Queenstown Memorial Hall (theatre).

8.30pm: ''Fabulous Arabia'', Crystal Palace (music).

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