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Inside the Youth Opera Council with Adina Harris

Lyric Unlimited's Youth Opera Council had a second great season. Officially launched with the 2013/14 season, the Youth Opera Council is a group of 22 high school-aged opera lovers who are dedicated to spreading the word about this fantastic art form. Here's an insider's perspective on the council from member Adina Harris, who talks about the "wild ride of opera."

Adina Harris (second from left) poses with Youth Opera Council members and soprano Ana María Martínez (second from right) at Millennium Park in September 2014

Lyric Unlimited's Youth Opera Council had a second great season. Officially launched with the 2013/14 season, the Youth Opera Council is a group of 20 high school-aged opera lovers who are dedicated to spreading the word about this fantastic art form. Among their many activities, they have weekly meetings, have conversations with Lyric staff and guest artists, and have the opportunity to attend every mainstage production. They even plan special events like A Night at the Opera so their friends can experience Lyric.  

Here's an insider's perspective on the council from member Adina Harris, who talks about the "wild ride of opera."

Journey to Youth Opera Council

I first heard about the Youth Opera Council when my choir director posted a flyer in his room. The past year I was involved in a program at the Goodman Theatre that I really enjoyed. I met a group of extremely interesting people, learned how to be a theater critic, and saw all of the plays for the season for free. Reading the description and application requirements, I thought, "This would be a cool thing to do this year!" My choir director noticed my interest and also added that it was a really great program and I had a good chance of getting accepted. With those words of encouragement ringing in my head, I went home that same day and submitted my application. I soon received an e-mail accepting my application and requesting an interview. After an amazing interview with Alejandra Boyer, the coordinator of the Youth Opera Council, I found myself on the Youth Opera Council for the 2014/15 season!

First Meeting

Now that I was a part of the YOC, the next step was of course the meetings. Every Wednesday from 5:30-7pm, perfect time and date! My mom dropped me off in front of the entrance and as I pushed through the revolving doors, several questions plagued my mind. What was it going to be like? Would I meet any fun people on the council? What will they be like? Can I keep up with all these opera lovers? I walked down the hallway of the 8th floor, turned and entered through an open doorway. So far, the only face I recognized was Alejandra, and with her welcoming smile, I sat down in between two of my fellow council mates. The chattering ended as Alejandra called us to order and began the agenda. "Let's go around the table and say our name, grade, school, and your favorite musical/theater moment of the past two weeks." As we went around the table, I heard musical/theater moments that confirmed one thing in my mind. This council might be made up of members from all walks of life, but one thing definitely united us: our love for the theater and opera.  

Photos from Youth Opera Council events: A Night at the Opera reception before Don Giovanni (left) and chalk drawing to promote Porgy and Bess (right). 

Wild Ride of Opera

Throughout the season, the Youth Opera Council was able to do some amazing things and I'm so happy I was a part of it. Everything from planning our Night at the Opera events for our classmates, chalk drawings, and special talk sessions with opera stars and important members of Lyric's staff made me realize how many different levels are involved in running an opera company and getting opera out to the masses.

An in-depth look at A Night at the Opera, created and edited by Youth Opera Council member Lauren Craig

One talk really stands out in my memory and that's when director Matthew Ozawa came to speak to the council. From the moment he stepped in with his bright smile and black framed glasses, I determined that Matthew Ozawa was my spirit animal. He told us about his performing arts company, Mozawa, and how its goal is "to break down the barriers that exist between differing artistic media and cultures." I realized that Lyric is trying to do the same thing, and I'm so happy that Matthew works with them because they both clearly have the same goal. Lyric Opera and Ozawa both want to show the world that opera is not just a stuffy art form for one generation, but an art form that should be admired by all for its technique and mastery.   

(clockwise from top left) Adina and Youth Opera Council members met with Lyric General Director Anthony Freud, soprano Amanda Majeski and mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, and Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming. 

About Adina

Hello! My name is Adina Harris and I am a senior at Providence St. Mel. I will be going to Iowa State University in the fall to major in Animal Sciences. I love volunteering at my local animal shelter and participating in theater programs that expose me to all manners of theater.

Want to Learn More?

Here's a look back at the Youth Opera Council's inaugural 2013/14 season:


Photo credits:

  • Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park photo credit Robert Kusel
  • A Night at the Opera photo credit Jaclyn Simpson
  • Adina Harris photo courtesy Adina Harris

Youth Opera Council – A Look at a Great First Season

Lyric Unlimited's Youth Opera Council had a banner first season. This group of 22 high school-aged opera lovers learned about running an opera company, met Lyric guest artists, and—of course—saw a lot of opera! Here are a few of the highlights from the year. 

Lyric Unlimited's Youth Opera Council, a new initiative for the 2013-14 season, had a banner year. This group of 22 high school-aged opera lovers met regularly, speaking with Lyric staff about the operations of an opera company. They also had the opportunity to attend every mainstage production this year and to meet some of Lyric's fantastic guest artists. 

Here are a few of the highlights!

On February 1, the council hosted "A Night at the Opera" before the opening of Lyric's new production of The Barber of Seville (pictured above). At this sold-out event, the council invited 200 of their family and friends for a casual preconcert reception that featured the chance to mingle with members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus and try on a few costumes! Here is a video that gives a flavor of this special event: 


The council also had meetings with some of Lyric's great guest artists: Nathan Gunn, Isabel Leonard, and Alek Shrader, all stars of The Barber of Seville. They also spent a very special evening with La Clemenza di Tito star Joyce DiDonato (pictured right). Joyce also ran into some Youth Opera Council members during intermission of a Rusalka student matinee performance and captured their profound thoughts on why opera is important and thriving:


Other special events included a special backstage tour led by Lyric's Audience Education Manager Jesse Gram, as well as regular meetings here at Lyric, some of which included visits with key Lyric staff. Guest speakers have included Lyric General Director Anthony Freud, Lyric Unlimited Director Cayenne Harris, Public Relations Director Alexandra Day, Barber of Seville Assistant Director Elise Sandell, and Assistant Stage Manager Bill Walters. 

Want to be part of this great group? Applications are now being accepted for the 2014-15 Youth Opera Council. Click here to learn more and apply today!

Photo credits:

  • "A Night at the Opera" photo collage (top), photos credit Jenn Gaudreau
  • Joyce DiDonato visits with the Youth Opera Council, photo credit Alejandra Boyer
  • The Youth Opera council chats with Bill Walters and Elise Sandell (photo credit Andrew Cioffi) and gets a backstage tour (photo credit Alejandra Boyer).


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