Opera is not an easy sell for today's über-sophisticated kid. No computer-generated special effects, no big-name stars (outside of the hermetic world of the opera aficionado, anyway) and precious few merchandising tie-ins available through fast-food restaurants means that opera escapes the notice of most kids -- but it shouldn't. Opera is spectacle and bombast and drama set to music. Some of 'em are bloody (not GTA3 bloody, though), and all of them have passion as the core of the story (hence all the singing). On overwhelming emotion alone, opera should appeal to kids, those most emotional of human beings.
Maybe it's a question of exposure. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is doing its part to make this art form accessible to children, both in price and in subject matter. Dream of the Pacific is OTSL's sixth opera commissioned especially for the young theatergoer, and it has its world premiere at 2 and 4 p.m. at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (call 314-655-5482 for tickets).
Starring St. Louis' hottest couple of the year, Lewis and Clark, Dream of the Pacific is a one-act, 70-minute retelling of the Corps of Discovery's cross-country adventure as seen through the eyes of Sacagawea and Lewis and Clark (someone please come up with a "Bennifer" name for these two). With death, a bear attack and a surprise reunion, Dream has all of the elements of a Disney movie, without the Elton John or Phil Collins tripe. With any luck, there will be Dream of the Pacific action figures by spring. -- Paul Friswold
Forget "Speak" We'll settle for "read"
Dogs have many admirable qualities. Literacy is not one of them. The canine's refusal to learn to read has ended more human/dog conversations than any other topic. How many times have you watched a ripping movie, then turned to your pal Dr. Barkapotomus and said, "The Cat in the Hat was all right, but the book was so much better," only to be met with that blank, happy stare? Well, now's your chance to help your dog. The Oak Bend branch of the St. Louis County Library (1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard, 314-822-0051) and Love on a Leash will have books and dogs waiting at 7 p.m.; you merely show up and read fifteen minutes of a favorite book (we recommend White Fang) to start the learning process. -- Paul Friswold