When you think of superhero movies, such as Marvel’s “Black Panther,” your mind might drift to big action sequences, huge movie budgets, and... opera? Lyric Opera’s Teaching Artist Megan Elk saw a direct connection between opera and superhero movies; that's why she chose the award-winning film to be the base for her four-week virtual program with Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago.

“Marvel movies in particular are incredible interdisciplinary, multi-media masterworks, just like opera!” Elk said. “I wanted members to have a very familiar piece of pop culture to reference as they explored opera. With the extraordinary popularity of the film, it seemed to be a fitting theme around which to center ourselves!” 

In partnership with Share Chicago – a BGCC Woman’s Board program to help Chicago’s children explore the city, and help spark their interests about new opportunities – and Lyric Opera of Chicago, the four-week program focused on the fundamentals of opera, such as storytelling, music, costumes and dance. Members of the Brunson and Hay Clubs had the opportunity to participate as the they explored the elements of opera through the lens of “Black Panther.” 

Some of the activities the Club members participated in were: Guessing if a music sample was from an action film or an opera (it was tricky!); learning how opera singers perform music in different languages; writing an “I Am Poem” to help inspire their creative writing skills; learning and participating in an African dance; and creating and performing their own Aria, which is a solo sung by singers in an Opera (members could choose between singing, dancing, reading their poem or showing off artwork).  

The benefit of learning about opera, said Elk, is that it incorporates several facets of artwork, which allowed students to demonstrate and express themselves in their own strengths and interests. Though the sessions were held virtually, Club members were still able to connect and interact with each other as they learned more about the elements of opera, and themselves. 

“It was incredible for me to experience the strong culture of mentorship and community created by the Clubs, even in a virtual setting,” Elk said.

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