Opera by Children (OBC), a Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre program for arts education, was established in 1997 as a statewide service for K-12 students engaging them in creating original operas and songs. Our purpose is to enable young people to grow by encouraging and affirming the natural creativity that exists within each one. OBC and the advanced Festival Songwriter programs are being utilized FREE of CHARGE by teachers in schools in most Local Education Agencies and many Charters throughout Utah as our professional arts mentors work side by side with teachers to assist them in facilitating the creation of original operas in their classrooms.

  • Our professional artists train teachers in workshops accessible around the state to begin the creative opera process.
  • Once trained, teachers may have three professional arts mentors work in their classroom in the FINE ARTS Core areas of drama, art, and music to help their students develop, create, refine, and perform their own original operas.
  • Working collaboratively with classroom teachers, our mentors and education staff, intertwine the state Fine Arts Core Standards with classroom goals and requirements in core subjects such as social studies, math, and science.
  • Side-by-side instruction occurs as students develop stories and lyrics using language arts core.
  • College and career readiness growth also occurs in each student during set design and creation of backdrops, development and learning their melodies, creating the movement and acting skills for staging, and ultimately performing their opera.
  • This partnership enables increased student performance and lasting learning outcomes in all areas of study as students connect learning in meaningful ways to their talents and interests through various learning lenses throughout the creative process.

Professional Development is offered through Utah State Board of Education with finical support and oversight through the Professional Outreach Program in the Schools (POPS) program. For more information, please visit our website.

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Read what teachers are saying about Opera by Children:

See Testimonials

  • A special message from Michael Ballam



    We thank you for being willing to empower a generation of children and youth to create and grow. You don’t have to be a skilled musician, a poet, an actor or a painter, but you DO need to love children and youth. There is a “song” in all of us, and few get a chance to find it and sing it. You are going to help them do just that. You are going to help them find that unique wonder of individuality that can only be found where it is safe to explore; in the Arts!

    We want children and youth to succeed in this new world. Help them cultivate those three C’s that the Department of Labor say are crucial for success in this new millennium: Community (ability to work together), Communication (beyond words alone) and Creativity. Together we can launch a new era!

    We have witnessed one miracle after another:

    • Children who hated school learning to love it.
    • Teachers thinking they were giving a gift of creativity to the children, finding it to be the other way around.
    • Homework being completed at a higher level.
    • Math and Language skills improving.
    • Children becoming more compassionate and inclusive.
    • Shy children blossoming.


    All this from our three simple rules:

    1. No one gets hurt
    2. Everyone participates
    3. It is the students’ work


    By creating a nurturing atmosphere of trust, children and youth are willing to risk, (where all great learning takes place). Then when we affirm them for having the courage to do so, they grow. Thank you for being facilitators and not dictators. Thank you for trusting the children and youth to do their own creating and putting the process in front of the product. Thank you for concentrating on empowering them to be great citizens by understanding that success is strongly tied to good self-esteem.

    There has been a myriad of wonderful things said about Opera By Children from those who have participated. One of the top on my list I overheard from a little girl exiting the theater with her family while looking up to her father and jubilantly shouting “We did it!” That plural pronoun says so much.

    Together We can do it! Thank you for being part of that We.

    —Michael Ballam
    General Director and Founder
    Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre

Current Opera by Children Workshops

For information on current Opera by Children workshops and to register:

Contact Information:

Pamela Gee | Opera by Children Director

Phone: 435.750.0300 ext 118 | Email: pamgee@ufomt.org


Opera by Children is pleased to be part of POPS (Professional Outreach Programs in the Schools) sponsored by the Utah State Office of Education.


Learn more about POPS PROGRAMS:


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