Special Projects

Building a Costume

A participant in a recent San Diego Opera artist-residency worked with SDO’s resident costume designer to build a costume that her great-grandmother would have worn in the late 19th century as a resident of a small town near Acapulco, Mexico. Both San Diego Opera and the program participant learned a great deal from this exchange. In an evaluation of the project, entitled San Diego Opera Costume Project Pilot: Learning How to Maintain the Generative Form and Honor Lived Experiences, a professional arts education program evaluator notes that, “Expressing oneself through the arts can awaken inspiration, stimulate curiosity, and connect individuals to a timeless stream of human creativity while simultaneously placing them within that lineage. For participants in this project, this was no different. They shared how seeing their artifacts come to life was deeply fulfilling and aroused a hunger to learn more about the art form as well as how their personal experiences shape their artistic perspective.” Read the full report.


Words and Music Online

In the fall of 2020, San Diego Opera Education teaching artists connected with students and families from Logan Heights, Lincoln Park, and City Heights to create and share a personal artistic artifacts to document the pandemic experience. A music education scholar and consultant joined this project as well, and you can read the report he wrote about it titled Equity, Creativity, and Artifacts: Building Community Online During COVID-19.


Stepping Into My Big Girl Shoes

This 15-minute audio drama offers five short plays written and performed by Words and Music students. Each piece explores key coming-of-age moments young women experience as they step into adulthood. This project is the culmination of a 12-week virtual residency designed for high school students facilitated by San Diego Opera teaching artists Shayla James and Jessica Cortez.


San Diego Civic Concourse Mural

A Community Participatory Artwork and Permanent Mural in the Civic Center of San Diego

by Artist MR Barnadas in Collaboration with the Local Public

MR (Melinda) Barnadas is a multidisciplinary artist with focus on producing art for the public domain. She was commissioned by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture to create a site-specific mural for the Civic Center in 2020. After two years of development, the final production and installation is happening now in collaboration with the San Diego Opera Education Department and the San Diego Opera Scenic Studio. Through the direct partnership with San Diego Opera, the mural is presently being fabricated and installed both by San Diego Opera Scenic Studio artists and by local artists and art students from the San Diego region.

The artist chose to make every aspect of this permanent mural in the symbolic and municipal heart of our city a local collaboration. The mural’s imagery and transcribed archive of local memories were collected and inspired during her time as the City of San Diego Civic Center Artist-in-Residence during the summer of 2021. The mural’s paint-by-number style and futuristic qualities were inspired through a San Diego youth workshop and through ongoing collaboration with the art teacher and students at King Chavez Community High School. This project used an innovative process whereby the mural could be painted off-site in many panels, then installed for permanent adherence on-site all at once. Additional fabrication collaborators and supporters include: artists and current students of the Mesa College Museum Studies Program, local artist Omar Lopex, the La Jolla Playhouse, and San Diego Theatres.


Lincoln High School students create visual art for SDO’s 2022-2023 season

In a partnership with San Diego Opera, students created artwork for San Diego Opera’s Gala and for its 2022-2023 Season. To learn more, read the San Diego Unified School District newsletter article.

Mariachi Project

San Diego Opera created San Diego Unified School District’s first and only official mariachi course. SDO worked with experts to create curriculum, and then worked with the district’s Visual and Performing Arts Department to submit the curriculum to the University of California Board of Regents. The Regents officially approved the course, and it is now part of the official school district course catalog. The new Logan Memorial Educational Campus plans to implement the new high school mariachi course when it adds 9th grade in Fall 2022.

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