Some parents in this prairie town are angry with an elementary school music teacher for showing pupils a video about the opera “Faust,” whose title character sells his soul to the devil in exchange for being young again.
“Any adult with common sense would not think that video was appropriate for a young person to see. I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a high school student,” Robby Warner said after two of her children saw the video.
Another parent, Casey Goodwin, said, “I think it glorifies Satan in some way.”
Tresa Waggoner showed approximately 250 first-, second- and third-graders at Bennett Elementary portions of a 33-year-old series titled “Who’s Afraid of Opera” a few weeks ago.
The video features the soprano Dame Joan Sutherland and three puppet friends discussing Gounod’s “Faust.” Waggoner thought it would be a good introduction to opera.
Her critics questioned the decision to show children a portrayal of the devil, Mephistopheles, along with a scene showing a man being killed by a sword and a reference to suicide.
School Superintendent George Sauter said the teacher should not have shown the video to children below the fourth grade but will not lose her job. She has sent a letter of apology to all elementary school parents in Bennett, population 2,400, about 25 miles east of Denver on Colorado’s eastern plains.
“I was definitely not sensitive to the conservative nature of the community, and I’ve learned that,” Waggoner said in Sunday’s editions of The Denver Post. “However, from what has been said about me, that I’m a Satan worshipper, my character, I can’t believe all of this. My intention was just to expose the kids to opera.”
Waggoner, who is in her first year teaching vocal music in Bennett, said she doesn’t expect to stay in town.
“I know I’m not accepted here, that I’m not welcome here by the parents,” she said. “It’s a very uncomfortable position.”