Barbara Reese grew up in Miami spending her entire life doing what she finds most rewarding, volunteering and serving her community. She is an opera enthusiast and is a former Past President of Young Patronesses of the Opera. YPO is a non-profit organization founded in 18955 whose mission is to promote opera in the community.
YPO’s Mission is to cultivate, promote, foster, sponsor and develop the understanding, taste and love of opera and to promote the education in the community, and to support the Florida Grand Opera’s education programs.
Having lived in Miami all my life, I have watched Miami grow into a vibrant International and Cultural City. The Magic City has many worth-while non-profit organizations which I am proud to support. One of these organizations, which I feel most passionate about is Young Patronesses of the Opera. Our organization just celebrated its 60th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary during which time I was honored to have been Co-President. Since the emergence of the Adrienne Arsht center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in 2006, the Florida Grand Opera has brought amazing opera productions to our community. As the opera continues to grow, so does the Young Patronesses of the Opera’s educational programs which touch the lives of over 30,000 elementary school children each year. Since its inception, over 1,000,000 elementary children’s lives have been touched by our opera programs. We are also very proud of our Girl Scout Workshop which provides the Girl Scouts an opportunity to earn an Opera Patch through lessons in dance, music, make-up and staging centered around one of the Florida Grand Opera’s performances in the upcoming season.
Unfortunately, many school systems have eliminated or reduced the art programs in our schools. Many children from low-income families may never be afforded the opportunity to participate in or learn about different forms of art. I would say that keeping the arts flourishing in the schools is an integral part of a child’s education. Opera exposes children to dance, fashion and art. It teaches children all forms of art rolled into one, music, theater, drama and comedy. Unless children are enrolled in a school which promotes the arts, the average child may miss out on many of life’s experiences which could shape their future.
The Young Patronesses of the Opera’s approach is to provide opera education to the youth of our community. Each year our education programs reach 30,000 elementary child. YPO also creates their own “Opera Funtime” booklets that use poetry, song and artwork to enlighten children as to music and history of an opera, as well as offer learning tools for the classroom. These are distributed free to the elementary schools. YPO also conducts a teachers’ workshop for Miami Dade music teachers from public, private and parochial schools. These teachers learn how to broaden a child’s horizon by exposing them to opera in the classrooms. The teachers use these Funtime Books to review the story line and the music beforehand so the children are familiar with the opera before they see it. For more than 40 years, the Young Patronessses of the Opera has performed children’s operas in elementary schools throughout South Florida. Our in-School Opera productions include opera singers with sets, costumes and live music suited for elementary school students. Many of the schools are Title l schools. This affords children the opportunity to see an opera performance that they may not have been able to do so. This 30 minute performance of a children’s story is set to music, i.e., Cinderella, Pied Piper. Learning about opera at an early age shows kids that music is a universal language that can transforms us to another place and perhaps inspires one to pursue a career in opera. Many opera singers who are on stage in major opera houses got their first exposure to opera by being a part of our In-School Opera Program. In keeping with our mission of fostering and promoting the love of opera in our community, we hope to inspire the children of today, who will become the future opera lovers of tomorrow. Our programs are supported by its members, the community and grants.