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Milwaukee sixth graders are putting on an opera

Can you write an opera better than a sixth grader?

Find out tomorrow evening when the Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts debuts their medieval-based opera, written by their sixth graders, with help from Script & Score.

Opera instructor Nathan Wesselowski has helped Milwaukee youth produce original operas based on their curriculum for 15 years now through the Script & Score program.

This spring, 70 sixth graders have spent the semester collaborating together to create the opera from scratch. Together they write lyrics and design and create props and sets. Wesselowski then produces the music and teaches the students how to deliver the song with choreography.

Script & Score is a program ran by Milwaukee Opera Theater together with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s ACE program. The program has developed over the years. Wesselowski says he started at Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities. He is now teaching students at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts, which was founded in 2013 after Tippecanoe merged with Dover School.

For many of the students, this the first time they produced original musical work.

In many instances, this program has also helped students retain their studies better. Wesselowski says student participation heightens during this program. "Students who did the opera in sixth grade can still sing their operas when they come back and visit," said Wesselowski. The students also gain the satisfaction of producing a show from beginning to end for their parents, peers and community.

The show is free and open to the public. It premiers Thursday April 26 at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts at 6:30 p.m.

Get a preview of the making of the opera in the video below: