Manitoba Opera

Opera School

Discover How An Opera is Brought to Life in This Six-Episode Series

Suitable for Grades 3-6


The Trailer


The Plot

It’s the first day of Opera School, and we’re ready to learn! But the teacher doesn’t show up…we’ll just have to learn about opera on our own. What better way to do that than to produce our very own opera?

This six-episode series follows four opera singers as they discover everything that has to happen to bring an opera to life.



Episode 1: Welcome to Opera 101

It’s the first day of Opera School, and we’re ready to learn about opera! In this episode we meet four talented singers, and they talk about all the different jobs that people do to make opera come to life.


Episode 2: Meeting Mr. Mozart

He was one of the greatest musical minds of the Classical era – and a bit of a joker! Jessica, Lizzy, Nolan, and Nathan share some of their favourite Mozart moments.


Episode 3: Introducing The Magic Flute

A prince, a birdman, and an evil queen? Our singers step into the fairytale world of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and introduce all the characters that we’ll meet in the opera.


Episode 4: When Magic Meets Music

After getting to know the music and the characters, our singers decide to put on their OWN version of The Magic Flute! There are enough roles to go around – but everyone wants to sing the part of the Queen of the Night!


Episode 5: Let’s Put on a Show – Part 1

Jessica, Lizzy, Nolan, and Nathan make costumes and get ready to put on their own production of The Magic Flute! Prince Tamino and the bird-catcher Papageno set out on their quest to rescue Princess Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night. But what happens when they find her?


Episode 6: Let’s Put on a Show – Part 2

Will Tamino and Papageno complete the trials of Sarastro? What will become of Pamina? Are there other characters we haven’t met yet? Find out in the thrilling conclusion to The Magic Flute!


The Story

The Magic Flute

The Magic Flute is a story about a prince and a bird-catcher on a daring quest to rescue a captured princess and find true love! But the people they meet along their journey are not always who they say they are. Can Prince Tamino trust the Queen of the Night, who wishes for him to rescue her daughter, Princess Pamina? Or should he believe her enemy Sarastro, who claims that he can lead the prince on a righteous path? The characters in the story face fantastic challenges together and discover friendship, courage, and love in a tale made even more magical by Mozart’s beautiful and memorable music.



After watching the Opera School videos, students can continue to explore the world of opera and The Magic Flute with these fun and creative activities. These are suitable for classroom, at-home, or hybrid learning environments, and can be used as group activities or individual projects.

Creative Writing Prompts

  1. Think of all the people that work hard to create an opera. Now, imagine that you are helping to create an opera. What opera job would you want to have? Why do you think that you would like that job?
  2. Imagine that you are helping Mozart write a new opera. What story would you choose? Who are the main characters, and what voice types would sing those roles? What language should the opera be sung in, and what instruments should be in the orchestra?
  3. Pick a character from The Magic Flute. What helpful advice can you give to that character? Write a short paragraph in which you identify the character, state what advice you would give them, and explain why they need that piece of advice.
  4. Imagine that you are a character in The Magic Flute. Write a letter from that character to one of the other characters in the opera (for example, you may imagine that you are Tamino or Pamina, and you are writing a letter to Papageno).
  5. The storytelling of The Magic Flute features many common fantasy elements such as magic, princes and princesses, talking animals, and gigantic beasts. How might The Magic Flute be different if it were told as a science fiction story instead of a fantasy? Write a one-page description of how the story could be changed.


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The Artists


Rob Herriot, director and writer



Rob Herriot was the perfect choice to write and direct Opera School. His experience working with young singers to improve their performance and acting skills helped the cast to make the transition from stage to screen. Previously, he directed productions of Lucia di Lammermoor and La Bohème for Manitoba Opera, and his work with companies across North America has included productions with Edmonton Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Utah Opera, Arizona Opera, Connecticut Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, Opera Nuova and Rainbow Stage. His productions have been nominated for 2 Betty Mitchell awards as well as 4 Sterling awards.


Jessica Kos-Whicher, soprano



Winnipeg-born soprano Jessica Kos-Whicher graduated with a Bachelor of Music and Post-Baccalaureate diploma in vocal performance under the guidance of Tracy Dahl and Monica Huisman at the University of Manitoba.

Trained in both Opera and Musical Theatre, some of Jessica’s favourite roles include Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, Elle in Le Voix Humaine, Susannah in Susannah (Opera NUOVA), Gretel in Hansel and Gretel (University of Manitoba School Tour) and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (Manitoba Underground Opera).


Lizzy Hoyt, mezzo-soprano



Award-winning multi-instrumentalist Lizzy Hoyt has released four albums and toured all across her native Canada performing original compositions and traditional Celtic repertoire. She is also an opera singer who has been praised by Opera Canada magazine for both her dramatic and comedic roles.

A participant in Manitoba Opera’s 2020 Digital Emerging Artist Program, Lizzy was the 2018 Flipside Opera Competition Winner and Judges Choice Award recipient. She holds a Post-Baccelaureate Diploma in Opera Performance from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with distinction from the University of Alberta.


Nolan Kehler, tenor



Hailing from southern Manitoba, tenor Nolan Kehler brings an energy to the stage that is infectious. Nolan has performed across Canada with companies including Pacific Opera Victoria, OperaBox Company, COSA Canada, and the Little Opera Company of Winnipeg.

Nolan is also the Director of Operations for the Manitoba chapter of Opera InReach, which aims to provide accessible opera education to schools from a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds in Canadian opera.


Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck, baritone



Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck has a passion for music and the arts. He endeavours to find the lessons in the narratives found in music and is primarily a storyteller as well as a singer.

His most recent performances include Brentano from The Brother’s Grimm (Saskatoon Opera), and he acted in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in Rook (Umbrellaphant Productions). Nathan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music with a vocal performance concentration from Canadian Mennonite University.