Roughly 50 elementary school kids from East Palo Alto are being treated this Sunday to a one-of-a-kind tour of SF Opera, led by the famous artist and opera set designer David Hockney.
Following a pre-show workshop on Hockney’s set design, originally created for the opera company’s 1993 season, they’re expected to have a meet-and-greet with the artist himself before settling in for a matinee performance of Turandot.
Turnaround Arts, a non-profit that pairs artists with lower performing schools, connected Hockney with the Costaño School last January. He visited the school around then and taught a couple classes on how to paint on an iPad.
“We’ve been really, really fortunate to have David Hockney adopt our school. It’s pretty amazing,” Angela Karamian, an arts specialist at the Costaño School, said. “The arts are relevant to everything they see in their classrooms. That’s a message I push all the time.”
The SF Opera idea came to Karamian not long ago while driving to work. She heard on the radio that the SF Opera was performing Turandot, and that Hockney designed the sets.
Malissa Shriver, who heads the California chapter of Turnaround Arts, says Hockney was game to reconnect with the kids, and bankroll a field trip to San Francisco.
“You know, David said to me after the first visit at Costaño, that he hadn’t been so excited and inspired in such a long time,” Shriver said.
“The arts bridge so many divides,” Shriver added. “You know, across language, across culture, across age. Here’s a man of 80 years old interacting and being loved by these children who are in 3rd and 4th and 5th grade, you know? I feel like in our culture, young people often don’t really have a lot of time for old people — and vice versa.”
SF Opera is also talking with the Costaño School about creating a class for 7th graders where they learn to write opera.