Over the years, we have seen more and more children’s apps tackling unique topics. Just a few weeks back we reviewed our first sex-ed app, Clementine Wants to Know: Where Do Babies Come From, which garnered positive reviews from our readers. We have also seen more apps about programming, which is wonderful for us who are actively trying to get kids excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education).
Today, we have a new app that attempts to introduce kids to a rare subject: opera. Called Play Opera, it is a visual adventure that promotes the beauty of opera through fun interactivity.
Love is all Around
Play Opera includes five opera fragments by great composers: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Turandot (Nessun Dorma) by Giacomo Puccini; Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini; Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi; and Councilmen Choir of the Luisa Fernanda Operetta by Federico Moreno Torroba.
Each opera fragment is illustrated by a renowned artist, who conveys the piece uniquely. For example, in The Magic Flute kids will see two characters as colorful love birds escaping from an inky forest. In Turandot, the visual style is similar to that of an old Chinese painting. In all the visual adventures, kids can tap on the bits and bobs on screen to see them animate.
It should be noted that the fragments included in the app have varied musical styles. But, they all revolve around love. Before listening to each piece, you can read about the characters and a brief synopsis of the opera to which the piece belongs.
Parents Need to Know
If we’re talking about a musical app, then audio quality is essential. I’ll be honest that I have never been to an opera, so I can’t compare the recording to an actual performance. But to my ears, the recording is excellent with all the high and low notes clearly audible. It’s a shame that some fragments do not fade out as smoothly as the others, which negates the listening experience a bit. I’m willing to overlook it because the rest of the app is really lovely, but would love to see it fixed soon.
Like most operas, the fragments presented in the app deal with adult themes such as love affairs, jealousy, and treason. But they are never depicted explicitly, both in the songs and imagery. In fact, if it weren’t for the blurb, I wouldn’t have figured out the “juicy” details of each fragment.
For this reason, I say it would be fine to use the app with kids as early as five years old. If they are not actively reading, let them interpret the music on their own. If they are already reading and they ask you about the plot, it is better because you can give them proper guidance.
Interface-wise, Play Opera is simple to navigate. It contains no in-app purchases and no third-party ads. It displays links to review the app and to other apps by the developer on the main screen, but to access both you have to answer security questions.
Play Opera is available in English, Spanish, and French. It is available now as a Universal app on the App Store.
Things I Like
I think one the challenges in trying to enjoy opera is in making sense of what is happening when you don’t understand the language. People always tell you to let the music speak to you, but in my own experience, it is not always that easy. So, combining the opera fragments with beautiful, interactive artwork is a terrific idea. I, at least, had a better idea of the plot by the end of each visual adventure.
Speaking of visual art, I love that the app had five different artists each work on a different piece. It creates a sense of variety, and it shows that you can interpret music in many different ways. The art style vary from classic to modern, but all equally whimsical, so you’re bound to find something you like.
Play Opera is a thoughtful musical app that promotes the beauty of opera. Five love-themed opera fragments are presented as interactive vignettes, each illustrated by a renowned artist. It is mostly language-neutral, so kids and adults alike can enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience. Highly recommended.