Hip H'opera

Hip H'opera is a collaborative, three-year project that combines classical music style with hip-hop sounds to create a compelling new operatic experience. A partnership between Opera Philadelphia and Art Sanctuary, Hip H'opera brings teaching artists to four Philadelphia high schools: Esperanza Academy Charter School, Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School, Mastery Charter School - Lenfest Campus, and South Philadelphia High School. 

In an initial project in 2007, students in Art Sanctuary's North Stars after-school program wrote poems that were set to music by classically trained composers. The resulting song cycle was performed by classically trained singers, string quartet, piano, and chorus for two sold-out audiences at North Philadelphia’s Church of the Advocate and a standing-room-only reprise at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. At each performance, the North Stars students read their poems alongside the professional musical performers.

In the current initiative, students participate in a three-year project. In year one, they engaged in writing prompts through which they shared their stories of family, struggle, neighborhood, and future dreams. In phase two, currently ongoing, students explore their own artistic process through monthly Teaching Artist Intensives. Teaching artists include acclaimed photographer Ruth Naomi Floyd, poet Susan DiPronio, and dancer Marcie Mamura, among others.

In phase three, students will build upon the work begun in phase two, learning about career opportunities in the arts and participating in the development of an original opera, inspired by their stories. This professionally-mounted chamber opera-set to premiere in 2015–will be composed by Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) with a libretto by spoken word artist and dancer/choreographer Marc Bamuthi Joseph.


Hip H’opera aspires to be a model for schools across the country in how to use the power of musical storytelling to empower students and augment the standard curriculum. Continue to visit this page for future updates on Hip H’opera and an announcement of the 2015 opera. For more information about Hip H'opera, call 215.893.5927.

Hip H’opera is made possible with support from The John S. And James L. Knight Foundation and the Wyncote Foundation.