Manitoba Opera

Mar 25, 2024

Opera & Reading A Winning Combination

Every February Manitoba Opera participates in “I Love to Read” Month by bringing opera singers into classrooms to read some of our favourite children’s stories about opera-loving animals. This year, mezzo- soprano Keely McPeek and bass-baritone Stephen Haiko-Pena visited 27 classrooms at 14 schools, reading to over 800 students. As part of each workshop, students learned some Italian opera vocabulary and were treated to a short performance by the presenter.  

Opera Cat and Encore, Opera Cat! translated to Anishinaabemowin 

Additionally, students in several Ojibwe Language Program classrooms in the Louis Riel School Division received a very special visit. John McLean, who has translated the book Opera Cat into Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), visited these classrooms to read his translation to the students. John shared a bit of his own story, telling students how he was forced to learn English and reprimanded for speaking Ojibwe when he was younger, how lucky they are to be learning the language in their schools, and how happy it makes him to share his language with them. He even mentioned that in translating the story he had to come up with new words for words like “limousine” and “pizza” that didn’t have a preexisting analogue in Ojibwe! Keely McPeek accompanied John to these classrooms and sang in Anishinaabemowin, performing the “Mending of Violence” aria from Li Keur: Riel’s Heart of the North 

Video recordings of John’s translations of Opera Cat and Encore, Opera Cat! are now available as part of our Opera Storytime online video library. These videos can be viewed at using the password: OperaStories21! 

We extend our gratitude to Councillor Brian Mayes and the City of Winnipeg for their generous support of our Opera Storytime program, including funding for the Anishinaabemowin translation.


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