When we decided to focus our next Family Day around opera and glass, we were warned.

Opera and glass? Um, aren’t you worried about shattered shards spraying gallery guests as soon as the soprano singer hits her high note?

Sure, we would if we were in a cartoon, but like many theories about opera – that it’s an old, outdated art form – or about glass – that its highest achievement is as a drinking vessel – there’s way more to the story.

Sponsored by Corning, Family Day will be held from 10 am to 2 pm on January 21 in the Cabarrus Arts Council on 65 Union St S, in downtown Concord. During the morning and early afternoon, children and their adults can use provided glass materials to make three different projects at the creative stations we’ve set up inside The Galleries. At 1 pm, Opera Carolina will present a performance of The Tortoise & the Hare for children 12 and younger.

Both activities are free, but reservations are required for the opera performance. Seating is limited to 230 people, so there’s a six-ticket maximum per family to be fair. Go to www.CabarrusArtsCouncil.org/arts-education/family-days to register for tickets and for more details on where and when to pick those tickets up.

Most people know Aesop’s familiar tale about the sluggish turtle that, with perseverance and good planning, wins a race against a fast-talking, arrogant hare. They probably think they know about opera, too, but they may be surprised. True, it’s a centuries old art form, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t kept up with the times.

“There’s a misconception that opera is stuffy and just for old people,” said Zachary Lee Hugo, who plays the Hare in the January 21 performance at the arts council. “But new operas are constantly being created, and old ones are constantly seeing new staging.”

Look at Opera Carolina’s April production and you’ll see what Hugo means. The Girl of the West is an opera set in the Wild West, with props that include everything you’d associate from that era, from whiskey and swinging saloon doors to poker chips and cowpokes.

For 40 years, Opera Carolina’s educational facet, Carolina Xpress, has brought opera to children with the belief that the younger, the better, to foster an appreciation for the art form. The Cabarrus Arts Council shares that philosophy, making sure all elementary children see an opera performance through our own educational program, Students Take Part in the Arts.

The Tortoise & the Hare is a modern take on the old fable: The healthy-eating, but agreeably slow tortoise wants to join the school track team, but the junk-food loving hare laughs in his face at the whole prospect.

“It’s a really fun show. It’s a taste of opera, but in a way children can understand,” said Chelsea Obermeier, who will play the Tortoise in the 45-minute show.

Just as opera has had to overcome a few outdated ideas, the same can be said for the other component of Family Day – glass.

We drink from it and peer through windows made of it, but there’s certainly a lot more to glass.

Our sponsor, Corning, has a 160-year history of working with it, and many of our most useful inventions and exciting historical moments have ties to the company and its innovations with glass.

Read the article at the Independent Tribune.