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What is Opera?

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by Signor Giuseppe Ravanelli.

Hello! My name is Giuseppe and I come from Italy – I’m the one in the picture. What is Opera, you say. Everyone says that opera is difficult to understand but I disagree! I want to show you just how simple it is – in fact, because I am a chef, I am going to show you the recipe for opera – all you need are three simple ingredients:

W o r d s


A c t i o n
M u s i c


… if it helps you to remember it!


Take the ingredients Words, Action and Music, Mix them together and what do you have? Opera.

Words + Action + Music  =  Opera

It is the same all over the world: opera, in the widest sense, is not just about wobbly sopranos, horned helmets and crazy Italians. For us at EPOC, opera is about telling fantastic stories (words) from all over the world with - action and music.





In China they tell stories with action and music. In Peru they tell stories with action and music. In China they tell stories with action and music. The results may not always be called opera but it is the same basic principal. Let’s look at that recipe again but let’s make it with ingredients from all over the world.

Italian words + Italian action + Italian music = Italian opera
German words + German action + German music = German opera
American words + American action + American music = American opera/musicals
Indian words (Hindi) + Indian music + Indian action (dance etc) = Bollywood

To help understand the notion of opera as a recipe made up of three basic ingredients  - think of the recipe in terms of edible ingredients (food – flour, water and eggs) rather than the just music, words and action.


I used to think that this combination of foods made only one thing – Pasta – but I now I know that it is the basis of foods from all around the world. For instance – in the following examples, Flour, Water and Eggs make foods from these countries: 

China Italy England

How many more examples can you think of? There are hundreds! You see, the basic recipe for opera is not that complicated – it can become complicated but that’s another matter. We have been showing children how to make this recipe for over 10 years now. We come into schools with our show Opera Hotpot and perform it to the whole school. Here are a few of my brother chefs who have helped me.


Giulio Charnio Ronaldo Dario

Opera Hotpot is very good for you – have a look at the following chart. Hope to see you soon.

All best wishes,



Cooking time: 60 minutes with optional 10-30 mins settling time, once cooked, for Q & A.                    

Best served to 30-200 schoolchildren during the school day. A number of exciting follow up recipes and serving suggestions are contained in the EPOC Teachers’ pack.

Opera intro (60%), 2 opera singers, 1 pianist, 1 school piano, 1  cooking pot, 1 toy theatre, 1 relaxed teacher, Leoncavallo’s The Clowns intro(20%), participation (20%),  
Typical values per 60min serving   % RDA
Energy Lots of it! 50
Fat Wagner sopranos – but only in popular imagination. 10
Protein Food for thought 40
Fibre Music, Singing, Action, Words, Mime, World music. 60
Pitch, Rhythm, Pulse, Tempo, Dynamics etc QCA/DfEE Music Key Stage 1 Yrs 3 & 4. Units 10, 11, 13, 14, 75
Rhythm, Pulse, Lyrics, Melody, Performing together, music processes etc QCA/DfEE Music Key Stage 2 Yrs 5 & 6. Units 16, 19, 20, 21 65
Form, Structure, clichés, arrangements, conventions, themes etc QCA/DfEE Music Key Stage 3 Yrs 7,8 & 9 55

A 60 minute serving of Opera Hotpot provides up to 75% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of QCA/DfEE Music Key Stages 1, 2 & 3 ongoing skill units.


Opera deals with, and can help channel, difficult emotions and passions and may help to keep your heart healthy. Singing has been shown to stimulate the pituitary gland, balance brain waves, change the brain’s chemistry to release endorphins, stimulate the sacculus (inner ear), increase the amount of disease-fighting proteins in saliva, reduce heart rate and blood pressure and change the temperature of the skin. Singing gives lungs a work out, tones up intercostal muscles and the diaphragm, stimulates circulation, improves aerobic capacity and reduces muscle tension.


Exposure to music and singing has been shown in studies to inspire creativity and calm restlessness and aggression - all helping to aid concentration.


This product may contain traces of the following musical material: Gounod Roméo et Juliette, Delibes Lakmé, Leoncavallo I Pagliacci, Di Capua O sole mio, Puccini Turandot, Verdi La Forza del destino, Puccini La Bohème, Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March no.1, Mozart Don Giovanni, Dvorak ‘From the New World’, Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra, Verdi Rigoletto, Bollywood Delight, Mozart The Magic Flute, Loesser Guys and Dolls, Theme from Eastenders.


For comments or questions relating to any EPOC product or service please call us on 020 7281 4015 and we will be happy to help.