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Guide To ONE Festival For Families & Opera Beginners

Opera Omaha is bringing back the ONE Festival to Omaha for its second year running March 30 through April 14, 2019. It’s unlike any festival I’ve ever been to, and I think if you appraise good storytelling, you’re going to want to check it out. There is a full lineup of events, and it can be hard to figure out which one is good for someone new to opera and which one is good for families, so I’ve written a guide to the ONE Festival to help.

Disclosure: This post is a partnership between Opera Omaha and Oh My! Omaha. I was not paid to write the post. Opera Omaha provided passes for the giveaway. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What you need to know about the ONE Festival in Omaha if you're new to opera - What's kid-friendly, what's accessible to opera newbies and how to get tickets #Omaha #Nebraska #opera

Related: Looking for more festivals and events in Omaha? Check out this post with an updated list of kid-friendly events, exhibits and festivals in the Omaha Area.

What is the ONE Festival?

The ONE Festival explores opera in all its forms. Sure there are two operas in the festival, but the rest of the festival deconstructs it into concerts, installations, social gatherings, dance and exhibitions. There’s an exhibition in 2019 that I think most families are going to love (more on that in a little bit).

The focus of the ONE Festival is experimentation and new work. The festival is held at different venues around Omaha. Some of it is free, some of it requires tickets. Here’s a list of all the performances and events in the 2019 ONE Festival.

Is the ONE Festival for families?

The full operas in the ONE Festival are not going to appeal to young kids or elementary aged kids. They can last up to three hours long and are quite often performed in an other language. However, there are a couple things at this year’s ONE Festival that I think will appeal to a younger audience.

A performance during the 2018 ONE Festival presented by Opera Omaha
The unique thing about the ONE Festival in Omaha is that it deconstructs opera with performances that range from dance and instrumentals to vocal performances. Of course, the festival also includes full operas. Photo courtesy Opera Omaha

One truly exciting exhibition, that I think will appeal to adults and kids alike is called “Playground.” You’re going to want to check out this operatic sound sculpture at Joslyn Art Museum March 30 through April 14. It’s pretty much a playground set inside the museum curated by Ellen Reid. What that means is you can swing on this playset and create music while someone else is accompanying you on the slide.

The performance part comes in on select days and times when “Run” is performed. This 15-minute original composition for voice features ONE Festival soloist Naomi Louisa O’Connell and International Contemporary Ensemble artists. “Run” is performed at select times on March 30 and 31, as well as April 4, 6 and 13.

Families may want to look into attending one of shows in the CINEsound operatic film series at Film Streams (at both the Dundee and Ruth Sokolof theaters). The one in particular that I’m told is family-oriented is called “Sights on Sounds.” It’s a documentary-style compilation that explores the connection of music and film.

Is the ONE Festival accessible to opera beginners?

I think the entire idea of the ONE Festival is to introduce opera to people who’ve never been to a traditional opera. With that said, there are some performances that are more accessible to newbies than others.

The first performance to check out happens before the festival event begins. “An Evening With Paul Barnes” on March 15 will be a good one to check out since it will give you a glimpse at what’s planned for the 2019 festival, as performed by pianist Paul Barnes. He’s famous for his collaboration with Philip Glass and has been called “ferociously virtuosic” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

An opera performance at the 2018 ONE Festiva in Omaha, Nebraska
The ONE Festival in Omaha explores operas in all its forms — from full operas to instrumental performances, dance and cinema. Photo courtesy Opera Omaha

Reid + Concert on April 4 is another one I’m told is good for those new to opera. It’s a chamber concert featuring Ellen Reid (the artist behind “Playground”), as well as performances by Holland Community Opera Fellows, Creighton University Chamber Choir and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. The performance is on the shorter side, so it gives you a taste of things without having to sit for a three-hour performance.

“For Research Only” is a dance exhibition that puts you in the middle of the performance (which may appeal to some and not to others, right?). This performance at KANEKO takes place April 6, 10, and 11. Due to the intimate nature of it, seeing is limited. The performance tries to put the audience into the thoughts of the performers, offering a glimpse into how a performance is made. It involves contemporary dance, live music and projection mapping.

I also think the “CINEsound” series sounds pretty interesting, especially the midnight screening that kicks off the festival. The score will be performed live with the movie.

About the operas in ONE Festival

There are two full opera experiences at the 2019 ONE Festival. “Les Enfantes Terribles” is the shorter of the two, if you base your opera viewing on time. It’s a twisted twisted opera by Philip Glass based on the 1929 novel. “Les Enfantes Terribles” is April 3, 5, 7, 13 and 14 at The Mastercraft. It’s definitely not suitable for kids.

The other opera is “Faust,” and due to its 3 1/2-hour-long run time, it’s going to be one for the seasoned opera fans. It sounds visually cool, with a Vegas-y feel to it, though. This performance will feature music that hasn’t been heard in more than 150 years, which is cool. “Faust” is on April 12 and 14 at the Orpheum Theater. Like the other opera, it’s not for the kiddos.

Going to the ONE Festival

The ONE Festival is March 30 through April 14, 2019 at various locations around Omaha. You’ll want to check if the performance you’re going to attend requires tickets, and if so, you’ll probably want to get them early (especially for performances with limited seating like “For Research Only). “Playground” is one that is FREE to attend, but you’ll want to time it right to see the performance of “Run” while you’re there. See all the performance and event dates and times here.

Tickets range in prices. Be sure to follow Oh My! Omaha on Facebook because I’ll be giving away a pair of Festival ONEpasses! The Festival ONEpass gets you into “An Evening with Paul Barnes” (VIP option available), “Les Enfants Terribles,” and “For Research Only” plus gives you discount codes for “CINEsound” and “Faust.”

Opera Omaha's ONE Festival is held each spring in Omaha. Here's what you need to know about taking kids to a performance or attending your first opera #Omaha #Nebraska #opera

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