CS Music loves to feature singers who are looking outside the box to find ways to share their love of singing. The Opera Dolls, founded by three opera singers, mezzo-soprano Jennie Legary, soprano Anastasia Rege, and soprano Christina Hourihan, is a unique way to introduce children to the world of opera. Find out how this idea came to be and the benefits that can come from being creative… and don’t forget to check out how adorable the dolls are!
What got you started?
I came up with the idea while I was in graduate school. In one of my classes, another student claimed that opera is dying and that no one is interested in it anymore. Of course, all of the opera singers in that class (including myself) gasped. If that student was right, and opera really was dying, how would we all make a living as singers after grad school? Why aren’t people interested in opera, but we know all the melodies of each Disney song? My theory was that it was due to exposure. We grow up listening to certain melodies, they become familiar, and we attach positive memories to them. There’s no reason why a little boy or girl who knows the melody to “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid shouldn’t know the melody to “Song to the Moon” from Antonin Dvorak”s Rusalka. So, I figured people need to to be exposed to opera at a very young age, and be exposed to it frequently, in order to be interested in it as adults. Enter Coloratura: The Opera Dolls! They are plush dolls that each emanate 45 seconds of music from the corresponding character: Adele sings “Mein Herr Marquis” from Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, Carmen sings “Habanera” from Georges Bizet’s Carmen, and Aida sings “O patria mia” from Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida.
How will this benefit people?
The benefits are threefold:
- These dolls expose classical music to the younger generation, which hopefully will result in a surge in young opera patrons in 15-20 years. It’s a lofty goal, but our fingers are crossed!
- Classical music is great for a child’s developing brain, since studies have proven that classical music can improve learning and memory.
- Operatic characters are from all over the world and noted from various parts of our history, and our first three dolls are from Austria, Spain, and Ethiopia. We have yet to release a Lakme or a Cio-Cio San doll, but of course those are already designed and in the queue. If children are learning about characters from different countries, could tolerance and therefore kindness become real priorities around the globe? It may be wishful thinking, but it’s certainly a goal of ours. Music brings people together. As musicians ourselves, we’ve collaborated with people of all different ethnic backgrounds and have performed for individuals from all walks of life. We’re trying to make the world a little kinder, in addition to being more musical!
What challenges are you facing and how are you overcoming them?
This company was founded and is run by three opera singers: Christina Hourihan, Jennie Legary, and Anastasia Rege. Our knowledge about business is growing every day, and we each have different strengths that we bring to the table. All aspects of running a business: sourcing, operations, email marketing, finance, design, you name it, we’ve done it. It’s been both a challenge and a blessing since there are only three of us running this operation, but thankfully we are all determined to resolve any problems as a team
What do you think is the most accessible first opera to watch for children?
Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II is a great first opera for kids because the music is light and whimsical, it has a comedic plot, and it takes place at a fun masquerade ball!
What is the long term vision for the dolls and the company?
The long-term vision is to create as many different opera dolls as possible. We see this as an evolving brand that has the opportunity to expand into other areas, not just exclusively dolls. It is our goal to inspire young lives in a unique and honest way, in order to create little opera fans that turn into adult opera fans!
What is the e-book, can you explain how that is connected to the dolls you are selling?
The e-coloring book features our first three dolls: Carmen, Adele, and Aida. It’s a coloring book complete with mazes, a word search, and a crossword puzzle. It’s a simple introduction to The Opera Dolls and their stories. Just purchase, download, print, and color away!
What advice would you give to parents raising young children who want to learn more about opera?
Well, in addition to purchasing one of our dolls, I would say go on YouTube and find scenes from different operas for your child to watch. Do a search for local concerts happening in your area and take your child to see a live show (a lot of these concerts are free and sometimes in the middle of the day if you happen to live near a Summer Training Program for young singers!). All of these stories and characters are relatable to our own lives in so many ways and can be great teaching opportunities as children grow and learn.
You can check out The Opera Dolls at
www.theoperadolls.com and social media platforms at @theoperadolls.