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Your Secret (Garden) Agenda

The new opera based on the 1910 children's classic couldn't be more kid-friendly. But first you have to get the kids on board.

The Secret Garden, the new co-production of the S.F. Opera and Cal Performances, has “family” written all over it. But the 1910 kids’ classic it’s based on isn’t exactly Harry Potter. And it’s an opera—a world premiere at that—so it’s not like Taylor Swift has covered it on Red. Here’s a no-pout plan of action.

Start with the plot: Stream one of the many adaptations available online. The 1993 film version features Professor McGonagall herself (or, as you may prefer to think of her, the Dowager Countess of Grantham): Maggie Smith.

Make the music less scary: Familiarize yourselves with a selection of arias on the S.F. Opera site. There’s no getting around the opera-ness of the songs, but the lyrics are in English, which should be reassuring…maybe.

Crush the whole classical-music-is-boring thing: Sign everyone up for a highly interactive pre-show workshop (March 2 and 9), and check out the schedule of related activities at the S.F. Botanical Garden. All the fun and games will make your kids totally forget to whine.


Originally published in the March 2013 issue of San Francisco.

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