14 Dec 2019

A 9-year-old’s Christmas gift to the opera

by Olivia Custodio

Melania Baker was nine years old when Utah Opera came to her school. She had never heard of opera before and had no idea what to expect from that day’s assembly, something called Who Wants to be an Opera Star?

In an instant, everything changed. Music and singing filled the room with the appearance of the five Utah Opera Resident Artists. Melania sat in awe, completely enthralled.

When she got home from school, Melania collected her Christmas money and bundled it in festive wrapping paper with a note. Without her parents’ knowledge she mailed her $20 (and some change!) directly to the education department at Utah Symphony | Utah Opera.

Melania with her sister

When we asked Melania, now 11 years old, about her donation, she replied, “I thought the performance was a magical experience. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like without that and so I wanted to send a donation. I love how it makes me feel. Music brings me so many emotions and thoughts. It’s important for Utah Symphony and Utah Opera to go to schools so that more kids can enjoy it and be inspired by the experience.”

The evidence, both scientific and emotional, is clear: music changes lives. It has effects on students’ academic success, their ability to feel empathy, their creativity, and it expands their horizons beyond the commonplace.

As Utah Symphony and Utah Opera tour the state, bringing live music to over 130,000 students each year in even the most remote locations, our goal is to inspire students to make listening to and creating music a central part of their life and education.

Donations underwrite the cost of bringing students to Abravanel Hall for a concert, they sponsor musicians and Resident Artists to work directly with a classroom, and support our Adopt-a-School program.

It is gifts from people like you that ensure children—like Melania—and people of all ages continue to find a love of music and the arts, and that music and culture continue to be a vital part of our community. Whether you are passionate about our performances or our statewide education opportunities, your gift will ensure the legacy of live music in our community. All that we have done and hope to do is thanks to your generosity.

Thank you for your support this year! Want to donate to help keep these programs in our schools? Click here.