Comforting sights and sounds with ‘BambinO’

By Emmanuel Luissi

Special to The Malibu Times 

The Malibu Library was among just a few locations that hosted the LA Opera and their performance of “BambinO,” the Scottish opera designed specifically for babies and toddlers. The LA Opera website describes the 40-minute piece as a world of soft pillows and gentle music, designed to engage babies with comforting sounds.

The performers wore costumes to appear like birds and sang from a stage of pillows set in the center of the room, allowing for children to move in and interact with them. 

The performance was put on by an ensemble of four LA Opera members, two of which played the instruments, while the other two put on the singing and dancing performance. 

“BambinO” is a story of nurturing and maturing. The two characters in the opera are a baby bird and its mother, played by performers Eli Villanueva and Maria Elena Altany. 

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Community Library Manager Melissa Stallings said she was happy to see the children so engaged in the performance. She called the show amazing and said she hopes the library will continue to host events that promote family engagement. 

“I hope the library is a place families can think of for cultural events and enrichment,” Stallings said.

As the performance continued, the children in attendance were engaged and warmed up to touching the props. The performers walked around, offering the children to touch either bird toys or giant golden egg props and sang and whistled as they interacted with them. 

Sara Heikali brought her daughter Leila to the baby opera and she said the performance was beautiful. 

“The show is very moving. There’s a lot of emotional components to the story,” Heikali said. “It has such a close relationship to mommy and I relate to that because I am so close to my daughter.”

Heikali said the design of the opera and its encouragement for interaction is a great way for children to experience a unique form of art.

“The fact that she [daughter] was able to touch everything, hear everything, feel everything, and interact with the people who were performing, that’s the best part of it really,” Heikali said.

She encouraged parents to take their babies to a performance of “BambinO.”

“This event is about getting a cultural perspective as well. It’s not just about listening to music,” Heikali said. “It’s about the interaction, understanding the scenery, and the whole artistic component of the production. It’s all impactful in the growth and development of a baby.” 

Villanueva said parents should know that “BambinO” is designed for babies between 6 months to 18 months, and is meant to help babies in the acoustic development they are experiencing in that age group.

The baby opera acts as an interactive teaching opportunity and Villanueva said that feature creates its own set of unique challenges compared to a traditional opera. 

“For us, it’s very improvisational,” Villanueva said. “Sometimes we have to change what we planned on so we can incorporate whoever comes on the stage. It’s actually fun and it keeps you on your toes.” 

To learn more about LA Opera visit, Connects@LAOpera.org.

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