March 17. 2013 10:17PM

Manchester Central students ready for makeovers, a night at opera

MANCHESTER - Twenty-five Manchester High School Central students will start today with makeovers and end it decked out in their finery at a simulcast performance of the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Francesca da Rimini.

It will be the first time any of the high school seniors have been to an opera, even if it is a live broadcast on a movie screen. The showing will culminate a day of makeovers courtesy of cosmetology students from the Manchester School of Technology, including manicures and nail painting for the girls, and dinner at the Great Buffet.

The daylong event is the brainstorm of Roy Shoults, Ward 4 school board member, who is determined that the cultural trip will be expense-free for both students and the school district. He said Superintendent Thomas J. Brennan is personally covering the cost of bus transportation. Ted Herbert's Music and Art Center contributed toward the cost of the tickets.

Tracey Crain and Aidan Connell, both from Hooksett and seniors in the advanced placement English class taught by Selma Naccach-Hoff, said they are grateful and excited for the opportunity. Crain plays the French horn and hopes to one day be an elementary school teacher, after earning a master's degree in music education, but also perform in symphony orchestras.

"It's a great opportunity," she said of attending the opera broadcast in high-definition at the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord.

Connell said he gets to see a lot of plays and musical productions because he is an actor involved in community musical theater, but he relishes the opportunity to see every aspect of musical performance, especially an opera.

The Francesca da Rimini opera was selected for the field trip because the students studied Dante's Inferno, which is about people who committed sins serving out their punishment in hell.

Shoults said the cost of taking students to a live opera performance is prohibitive. A front-and-center seat at the 3,900-seat Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan can cost $450, although $20 will buy a nose-bleed seat. Then, of course, there would be the added cost of getting there.

The students will be sitting in a 1,304-seat theater about 250 miles away where they will watch and listen as the opera stars take center stage in Manhattan.

"The Met is the best by far," said Naccach-Hoff.

Crain is looking forward to the entire day, especially the pre-opera primping, and has a dress already picked out. "I love to dress up," she said.

Connell is not as enthused about the makeover, which for the guys entails being clean-shaven and properly groomed.

Still, he's pulling out his suit jacket and tie.

"I think all the girls are going to look awesome so I have to try to match that," he laughed.

Donations for the outing may be sent directly to the Manchester Finance Department (Tax ID #02-04-94977), Manchester School Department, 195 McGregor St., Manchester, 03102.

Shoults said he doubts there will be any surplus, but if there is, it will go to future projects. He's looking into a plan to hold a battle of the jazz bands for the city's three high schools.