There weren't any uniforms or obstacle courses, but the soldiers-in-training at Opera Boot Camp on Dec. 9 listened with attention.

Created by the Minnesota Opera Company's young professionals group, Tempo, the party and training session at the Minnesota Opera Center in Minneapolis were attended by members of the United Way's Emerging Leaders.

The drill sergeant was Minnesota Opera Company's teaching artist Angela Keeton, whose job focuses on opera education. Basic training included Keeton's sage advice: "Don't ask an opera singer if they've been in 'Phantom of the Opera,'" she instructed. "Ask them if they've been in [Puccini's] 'Tosca.'"

She also offered tidbits on artists: Mozart was a child prodigy who wrote 22 operas during his 33 years of life; Rossini's bel canto compositions turned singers into superstars, and Puccini, who composed "La Bohème," ushered in a romantic period of writing about real people rather than kings and queens.

"We need to be able to express the relevance of opera to people's own lives and what they see in the movies and read in novels," said Keeton. "It's my job to break down a cool art form and make it accessible to everyone."

Attendee Lena Song enjoyed learning about the history of opera and listening to the performances, but the thing she'll never forget from Opera Boot Camp? "You can, indeed, break a glass with your voice," she said.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177