Alton native performing in Opera Edwardsville’s Opera for Kids’ ‘Goldilocks’


EDWARDSVILLE — An Alton man will join the cast of Opera Edwardsville’s Opera for Kids: “Goldilocks and the Three Singing Bears” this summer.

The 40-minute long production of Opera Edwardsville’s Opera for Kids will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 9, at Edwardsville Public Library, 112 S. Kansas St. All of this operatic adaptation’s singing and dialogue is in English and specially created for young children, featuring music from famous operas, with silly new words from the fable of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

Baby Bear, also called Piccolo in this performance, will be performed by tenor Spencer Domer of Alton who is currently completing studies at Millikin University.

“We are so excited to feature him as part of this performance,”  said OE founder and artistic director Chase Hopkins. 

“Goldilocks and the Three Singing Bears” tells the story of Goldilock’s love for bugs and where it leads her. When a beautiful butterfly flutters off into the woods she chases it, forgetting a promise made to her mom to stay close to home. Trying to find her way home after eating soup that doesn’t belong to her, she meets Peek, a little bear, who confides that a sneaky robber snuck into his family’s house that morning, licked his spoon and ate his soup.

Goldie is horrified, for she knows, of course, that she’s the sneaky soup robber. What should she do? Should she risk getting in trouble by telling the truth? Should she be dishonest and hope to avoid being punished?

The music of Mozart and Offenbach meet the magic of children’s theater for this operatic adaptation of the classic fable, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Thanks to donors and sponsors, the program is free; audience participation is likely.

This will be the fourth annual production by OE of Opera for Kids. Over the past three years the opera has reached more than 5,000 children.

“We’ve presented the Opera for Kids on tour to area schools, in gymnasiums, to a packed house at the Edwardsville Public Library, to a full audience at The Wildey Theatre, and online, which continues to share the joy of opera for our youngest audience members and their families,” said Hopkins.

“We have an incredible cast joining, with two wonderful professional singers playing Papa Bear and Mama Bear by baritone Jacob Lassetter and soprano Amy Prince.”

Prince is one of Edwardsville’s own with a blossoming studio for young singers called Tessitura Music. She also teaches on the music faculty at McKendree University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Lassetter teaches on the music faculty at Webster University and has an extensive performance career. He is a staple of the St. Louis musical community. 

“Both are incredible assets to the community and we are proud to have them with us for this very special performance,” Hopkins said. 

It wouldn’t be “Goldilocks and the Three Singing Bears” without Goldilocks, played by Belleville native and soprano Angel Riley. A graduate of the AIT program and a former student of SIUE’s Marc Schapman, Riley recently made her Opera Theatre of St. Louis mainstage debut as Papagena in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

“Angel is an incredible young singer with a promising career ahead of her,” Hopkins said. “We are fortunate to have her join this performance and so pleased to welcome her.”

The production is directed by Schapman, professor of voice at SIUE, who also directed OE’s Opera for Kids 2021 “Jack and the Beanstalk” which performed at both the Edwardsville Public Library and the St. Louis City Museum. 

“He is a fabulous professional tenor,” Hopkins said. “Marc is abundantly talented as a performer, teacher and director, and has become a great friend of OE, having been involved in many projects from the very beginning.”

The production will be accompanied by OE Artist-in-Residence and pianist Joseph Welch.

“Our performers will shine brightly thanks to the support and fabulous playing of Joseph, an extremely talented pianist that we are fortunate to have as our first ever Artist-in-Residence,” Hopkins noted. 

The production will have darling sets and charming costumes designed by the talented Roger Speidel, a scenic artist who works in the SIUE Theater Department.

“We are extremely fortunate to have his wonderful creations as part of our Opera for Kids, and I am constantly overjoyed by what he comes up with,” Hopkins said. “It will be great fun to see him tackle the bears for this fun opera!”

It was through seed money from the SIUE Meridian Society in 2019 that SIUE and OE partnered and produced the first Opera for Kids, “Pinocchio.” It toured Edwardsville schools and was performed to a packed house at The Wildey Theatre. All performances were able to be offered for free to the community thanks to funding from the Meridian Society. 

Many parents shared that this was their children’s first live theater experience, their first time in a theater, and their first chance to hear operatic singing.

“Not to mention, we had great response from the performers who enjoyed being part of an outreach program that gave back to the community,” Hopkins said. “We knew then that it was imperative that we continue this program, and most importantly, that we continue to be able to offer it for free to the community.”

The Rotary Club of Edwardsville stepped up to offer OE enough support as part of a three-year grant. That funding has allowed OE to continue to grow the program.

“We are so grateful to every donor and sponsor who has helped make this program an annual offering, and a continued impact on making the arts accessible to all. It’s truly a very special program, unlike anything else,” Hopkins said.

The event is free thanks to OE’s 2022 Season Sponsors and donors: the Rotary Club of Edwardsville, the city of Edwardsville, the Schmidt and Barton Family Fund, Lewis Rice, and Stifel. The program is presented in partnership with the Edwardsville Public Library, the city of Edwarsdville’s Arts in the Park program and the Edwardsville Arts Center. 

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