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Getting his feet wet

Son of FDSH grad makes opera debut at 6 years old

-Submitted photo by Duane Tinkey
Benjamin Bjorklund, the son of Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Mark Bjorklund, made his opera debut recently. Benjamin, just 6 years old, was cast in the Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of “Wozzeck.”

DES MOINES — It shouldn’t come to the surprise of anyone that the child of two music teachers recently found himself on the big stage of an opera.

Benjamin Bjorklund, a 6-year-old, is the son of Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Mark Bjorklund and his wife, Jill. The family currently lives in Ankeny.

While his classmates were enjoying the usual summer vacation events, Benjamin was cast in the Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of “Wozzeck” as the son of the main female lead, Marie.

“I’m really proud of Benjamin for doing this,” Mark Bjorklund said. “He has been learning so much about the entire process of putting on a major stage production and how to act and sing with professional musicians.”

This past January, Benjamin joined the Heartland Youth Choir located in Windsor Heights. From there, the artistic program director mentioned the role.

“We found out about it a few weeks after he joined,” Mark Bjorklund said. “We submitted a video audition and things progressed from there.”

A total of four performances were held at the opera house in July. “Wozzeck” first debuted in December 1925 with the Des Moines Opera. The opera is described as having “music of intense emotional power with a profoundly dramatic story. Berated by his captain and overcome by jealousy, Wozzeck tries to make sense of his fragmented dreamlike mental state with disastrous results.”

Michael Mayes was cast as the male lead, Wozzeck, with Sara Gartland playing Marie, the mother of Benjamin’s character.

According to Mark Bjorklund, Benjamin liked “everything” about being in the opera. He appeared in four scenes and was able to sing in the final act of the show.

Mark Bjorklund is the K-3 and 6-12 vocal music teacher at Collins-Maxwell Schools and Jill Bjorklund teaches at Ankeny.

“While both of us are music teachers, we don’t want Benjamin to feel pressured to do anything he doesn’t want to do,” Mark Bjorklund said. “We are encouraging him to be involved in as many things as we can to help him find his passion.”