All photos by Zachariah Bryan
West Woodland Elementary's children's choir sings alongside professionals from the Seattle Opera.

Where have all the salmon gone? Seattle Opera performs at West Woodland Elementary

West Woodland Elementary students got a special treat this morning, March 5, when Seattle Opera came to perform a rendition of "Heron and the Salmon Girl" with a little bit of help from the school's children's choir.


A turtle and an orca are two of the characters looking for salmon.

"Heron and the Salmon Girl" is the first in a trilogy of operas called "Our Earth." Designed especially for young audiences, and sung in English, the story surrounds a peculiar event: One spring, the salmon fail to return to sea. An array of characters -- a hungry orca, a heron, a turtle, and a grumpy fisherman -- embark on a journey to find where the salmon have gone.


Pelican and Orca have a standoff over the Salmon Girl.

For most of the children at West Woodland Elementary, it was likely their first encounter with opera. It also presented a unique opportunity for students to talk with the opera singers/actors. Students asked questions such as "How did you change so quickly?" (Answer: "Practice"), "Is this based on a true story?" (Answer: No. It pulls multiple stories from Native American tales, though) and "Where have all the salmon gone?" (Answer: "It's part of a trilogy. We're actually discovering these parts as we go along and as we learn them, so stay tuned").


Salmon Girl, Heron and Fisherman

Choir director Donna Brodland, who helped the children's choir prep for their role in singing alongside the professionals, was enthusiastic that her children were able to experience opera.

"The first couple times we sang this they were like, 'What is this?' It was a little over their heads," she said. "But they got into it ... today was incredible. You could just tell they were enjoying it."


Heron flies with Salmon Girl.

Today was the very first time that the professional singers and the children worked together, and, if the laughter of children and the smiles on parents' faces were any indication, it turned out swell. The children's choir would come in intermittently, singing in harmony and waving blue-colored tissues up and down, representing the water.


Salmon Girl is separated from her brother, who left for the big city.

"It was amazing," Brodland said.

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