Never too young to love opera

Harry Rose writes opera reviews, critiques performances for the media and has devoted industry followers on Twitter – and he's 14 years old.

Whitney Eulich/The Christian Science Monitor
Harry Rose

Harry Rose is an opera fanatic: He writes reviews for popular industry sites, critiques performances for The Huffington Post, and sports an opera-related résumé that spills onto two pages. World-class singers follow him on Twitter, too. But he's never made it to a season opener at the New York Metropolitan Opera, something he says is a must for industry devotees.

"Not yet," Harry says, because "it's always on a school night."

Harry is 14 years old. In his three years since discovering his love for opera (his first visit was proposed by his grandfather), he's dealt with barriers that seem particularly unique to this period in his life: too much homework to blog about the most-recently released opera box set, parental credos on traveling solo to New York City from home in Connecticut, and pricey tickets that won't include a student discount until he enrolls in college.

"It's an expensive hobby," says Harry, whose blog (operateen.wordpress.com) and Twitter handle go by the moniker Opera Teen. "This blog is the closest thing I have to a job," a job he hopes one day will lead him to become the general manager at the Met.

In an industry commonly associated with a more ripened and wealthy audience, a baby-faced freshman in high school can stand out. In 2010 the average audience member at the Met was nearly 56 years old.

"I love passionate kids," says Marsha Drummond, director of education at the Met. Ms. Drummond runs a nationwide opera education program in 30 school districts, and says she definitely sees kids that are drawn to opera, especially the costumes and dancing. Often the youngsters who catch the opera bug are aspiring singers or actors, but Harry's more business-side aspirations are unique.

Harry says opera is actually perfect for people his age, and he encourages his friends to listen. "There are so many opera characters that are teens and young adults. I think it's because it's a very emotional time in your life and composers like to play into that," he says. If he were managing an opera house he would do more to make the environment inviting for youths, Harry says, like holding open houses where kids could go on stage.

"I think the biggest mistake [adults] make is telling kids opera is boring and uninteresting," but some new iteration of a show will finally appeal to them, he says. "Don't apologize."

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