Opera In Schools

San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Opera Guild both provide programs for K-12 classrooms and educators.  Please choose a link below to learn more about these opportunities to connect opera education to your curriculum. 

San Francisco Opera K-12 Programs: Opera ARIA (Arts Resources in Action)


San Francisco Opera Guild Programs



San Francisco Opera K-12 Programs: Opera ARIA (Arts Resources in Action)

After a semester of investigation into the needs of the school community and a semester of pilot testing, in 2009 San Francisco Opera launched its groundbreaking Opera ARIA programs, aimed at connecting professional artistic and creative elements of opera with classroom curricula. With a methodology focused on empowering educators to work with both the Opera and their own colleagues to develop curriculum connections, and connections to the California State Arts and Academic Standards, the Opera ARIA programs all stem from three key principles:

  1. a sustained, multi-step partnership between educators and an Opera teaching artist,
  2. a high level of flexibility for the educators, in content and curricular connections, and
  3. in-depth professional development for all participating educators.

ARIA Network (Grades K-8)
The Opera ARIA Network applies the ARIA principles in an environment of long-term, collective, cross-school learning. Classroom teachers participate in extensive professional development and collaborate with Opera Teaching Artists to connect San Francisco Opera resources to their curriculum over the course of one or more semesters.

ARIA Residency (Grades K-8)
The Opera ARIA Residency program focuses on connecting one artistic and creative element of opera with classroom curricula.

ARIA VAPA Mini-Residency (Grades 6-12)
The Opera ARIA VAPA Mini-Residency is a Middle and High School program that focuses on connecting one artistic and creative element of opera with arts instruction, connecting the professional Opera Company to the School arts classroom.

PEAK (Practicing Everyday Arts Knowledge-Grades 9-12)
San Francisco Opera’s High School program, PEAK, integrates opera’s multi-disciplinary characteristics into a cross-subject curriculum, utilizing a specific opera as a prism to explore the connection of a number of subjects to a single artwork.

ARIA Professional Development for Educators Course and Dress Rehearsal Program (Grades 3-18)
San Francisco Opera recognizes that many educators value having access to resources and knowledge in order to bring opera into their classroom. The Opera offers K-18 educators a series of Professional Development sessions aimed at providing tools to connect the study of opera to their classroom curricula/syllabi. Each session focuses on the study of opera in general and a specific SF Opera production in particular, in preparation for attending a Final Dress Rehearsal.

To learn more about all the Opera ARIA programs, please click here.

For more information, or to be added to our mailing list, please contact the San Francisco Education Department at education@sfopera.com or at 415-551-6296.

Support for the 2013-2014 San Francisco Opera Education Department’s ARIA (Arts Resources In Action) school programs has been provided by our lead sponsor Union Bank. Additional program support also generously provided by the George T. Cameron Educational Foundation, Robert and Laura Cory, Kristina Flanagan, Richard and Elizabeth Fullerton Family Foundation, Gap Foundation, Kaiser Permanente; Loomis, Sayles & Company, LP; the Michelson Family Foundation, Wells Fargo and Zellerbach Family Foundation.


Union Bank


San Francisco Opera Guild Programs

Give Voice to Potential!
Breathing life into art - and teaching children that they, too, can be actors, creators, thinkers and visionaries - are key to our organization's most important missions. This year, we're working harder than ever toward that goal, with new programs and old favorites designed to get young people excited about opera. It's never too early to encourage children to express themselves and explore their creativity. To make it even easier to help you choose the programs that are right for your students and curriculum, we have organized our programs into four streams. Our Sing with Us classes give children their first taste of opera, our Create with Us composition programs cultivate confidence and collaboration, our Come to the Theatre programs immerse students in the physical world of the opera and our Opera Junior offerings put students front and center. Each program is designed to show students a new way to learn about the world and participate in it. Art is a reflection of and commentary on the world around us, and it can also be a positive catalyst for social and political change. Give your students the tools and awareness to form opinions, envision opportunities and solutions and be heard. Give voice to their potential. For more information contact the Opera Guild. 

SING WITH US: Warming Up

Sing a Story (Grades K-3):
Unleash students’ imaginations in this award-winning program! We bring a teaching artist into the classroom to introduce a classic opera story, complete with singing and opera insights. The program includes musical storytelling and a choral coaching and singing session, and then the artist magically unveils props and costumes, encouraging the entire class to act out the story and sing excerpts. Engage students in a timeless story, help them learn the elements of an opera, and give them a truly immersive creative experience.

Touring Show: Flute for Two (Grades K-5):
In this exciting 45-minute interactive assembly, two costumed singers entice children with this classic tale, while also teaching them about singing technique, stage presence and character expression.

Opera à la Carte (Grades 3-8):
This engaging program consists of a 45-minute adaptation of a traditional opera or operetta. Masterfully designed, this English production reaches more than 120 schools a year and features professional singers in ornate costumes, a pianist, and a docent – who weave a classic operatic story that includes students in the speaking roles! The artists coach students and rehearse with them, preparing them to perform the opera for the entire school.

CREATE WITH US: Making the Music

Book to Bravo & Voices for Social Justice (Grades 4-9):
Participating teachers will have a choice this year: literature or social justice. The former focuses students on creating operas using a story or fable from their curriculum, allowing them to examine, embody, and embrace their literary and historical lessons through our Book to Bravo program. With our Voices for Social Justice program, we give students the option to focus on creating a story rooted in the socio-political cultural environment of the students. Both of these exciting programs, offered in the fall and spring, are seasonal residencies during which a team of teaching artists comes to the classroom and helps students create an original music theatre piece, which they then design, cast, and perform. The choice of focus (on curriculum or quest for societal change) is up to the teacher.

OPERA JUNIOR: Taking the Stage

Opera Junior (Grades 4-12):
After being immersed in the world of a classic opera, students create an adaptation of the piece using the original music from the opera. Guild teaching artists help students finesse the story to suit the ages and skill levels of the performers, while maintaining the integrity and meaning of the original opera, which they then rehearse and perform in this twelve week residency.

Summer Conservatory (Ages 10-18):
The Summer Conservatory offers students instruction in opera, theatre, musical theatre, dance, and all other artistic components. Students meet six hours a day, five days a week for three weeks. Each Summer Conservatory day consists of classes in voice, theory, movement, language, music and theatre history, acting, technical theatre, and much more. The program culminates in the students applying the skills they've learned in the rehearsal and performance of an opera. This program also includes a free ticket to a Student Dress Rehearsal at the Opera House.


Madeleine H. Russell High School Night at the Opera (Grades 9-12):
In association with San Francisco Opera Education, this is an event exclusively for Bay Area high school students. It compliments our Student Dress Rehearsal program with an evening of social activities, culture and careers in performing arts.

Student Dress Rehearsals (Grades 4-12):
Give your class a rare and marvelous sneak peak of a fully staged San Francisco Opera dress rehearsal. Includes curriculum guides sent in advance. And, as part of our OperaSpiel Speaker Series, have a docent enlighten your speak class before or after the rehearsal.

Touring Show: How Andy Found His Voice (Grades 4-9):
In this participatory musical play by Caroline Altman, four singers present a 50-minute play in which a troubled ninth-grader, Andy, finds his voice and self-confidence. Students learn about vocal technique and singing and even participate the chorus.

Opera House Tours (Grades 4-12):
There’s more than just opera history that imbues the War Memorial Opera House. Students will also learn about historical events such the signing of the United Nations Charter and the memorial service for Harvey Milk.