March 06, 2019

How Students Can Experience the Power of Opera

Lyric Unlimited — Lyric’s department dedicated to education, community engagement, and new artistic initiatives — offers many ways for students to experience the power of opera! If you're a teacher, or a parent who wants to make sure your child's teacher is aware of these programs available to classrooms throughout the Chicago region, Lyric wants you to be in-the-know about our student programs. Whether it's seeing a live performance in the magnificent Lyric Opera House, taking a backstage tour, or experiencing opera in your neighborhood, students will be captivated by an art form that tells stories through music, acting, dance, and exciting visual elements. 

Chicago music lovers can come experience the Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park free concert under the stars at Pritzker Pavilion and the Great Lawn. Pack your picnic basket and bring your friends to enjoy a performance featuring acclaimed Lyric star voices with the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The Millennium Park concert is sure to whet your appetite for the much-anticipated season opening. 

Friday, September 7 at 7:30pm 

These weekday matinees for organized school groups give students in grades 6–12 an unparalleled arts experience — powerful voices, breathtaking sets and costumes, the lush sound of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus, all in the magnificent setting of the Lyric Opera House. 

La bohème by Giacomo Puccini (Italian, with English projected translations)
A group of young artists and friends struggling to make ends meet experience love and loss in romantic 19th-century Paris.
Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 2pm
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 2pm

Cendrillon by Jules Massenet (French, with English projected translations)
Enter a world of fantasy where a mistreated girl becomes a princess with the help of her fairy godmother.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 2pm
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 2pm

Elektra by Richard Strauss (German, with English projected translations)
After her father, King Agamemnon, was murdered by her mother, Elektra wants vengeance. 
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 at 2:00pm

La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (Italian, with English projected translations) 
A wealthy courtesan finds her true love, but sacrifices herself to save his reputation. A heart-wrenchingly beautiful story of love and redemption.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 2pm
Wednesday, March 7, 2019 at 2pm

West Side Story with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Two teenagers from opposing New York City gangs fall in love. Watch this star-crossed romance unfold with unforgettable dance and music. 
Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 12pm
Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 12pm

Tickets are just $10 and $20. For groups of 10+ and additional Performances for Students ticket information, email For information on group sales tickets for other Lyric performances, call 312-827-5927 or 312-827-5613.

All schools will receive free online student and teacher resources created by Lyric Unlimited to help prepare students and enhance the performance experience. 

Schools can also request a Lyric teaching artist to visit classrooms to engage students with the important themes, musical highlights, and production elements of the opera. Simply add Lyric’s Opera Prep Class to your performance package. This program is for classes attending La bohèmeCendrillonElektra, and/or La traviata, and costs $175 per 45-minute presentation.

One of Lyric's longest standing student programs, Opera in the Neighborhoods offers live performances for student groups of youth-focused operas for students in grades 3-6. 

Details about our 2018 production, Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt, will be announced soon! Reservations will be available August 1.

Performances are approximately 45 minutes long, plus a Q&A with the cast afterwards. There is no admission charge for performances, but Lyric welcomes a suggested donation of $65 per classroom. 

Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt will tour between October 15 – November 16, 2018 in the Chicagoland area at 15 venues, with performance times offered at 10am and 12pm.

 Lyric’s teacher professional development workshop for Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt will be offered Saturday, September 8, 2018 at the Field Museum.

Lyric Unlimited's Student Backstage Tours are led by guides whose training centers on teaching through engagement — questioning, discussion, and problem solving — and tapping into the unique qualities of each student group.

As students journey through the various production areas, they learn about the myriad artistic elements and professional skills that combine to create a grand opera performance. They see places and things that most Lyric patrons only dream of seeing, and they leave the tour with lasting insider knowledge about the world of opera.

Student Backstage Tour reservations for the 2018/19 season will be available August 1, 2018. Tours will be offered between 9:30am and 2:00pm on dates that may be viewed here.

Learn more about Student Backstage Tours!

Did you know that Lyric Unlimited offers three unique in-school residency programs for elementary, middle, and high schools? Lyric Unlimited’s Opera Residencies for Schools pairs classroom teachers with professional Lyric teaching artists to enrich students’ learning through the power of opera. Programs are available for grades 1-12 and each program is tailored to each school and classroom. 

The multi-disciplinary Elementary Opera Residency empowers students to create and perform an original opera by integrating curricular content with arts learning. 

Explore Opera engages students in an in-depth study of a selected main stage opera through activities that integrate reading comprehension and artistic expression. 

In Lyric’s High School Choir Residency, high school choir teachers are provided year-round assistance from a Lyric professional teaching artist to create custom learning experiences that support music, arts, and academic learning goals.

Applications for the following school year are available each spring. Learn more at 

On Thursday, May 31, Lyric presented the world premiere of EMPOWER, a fully-staged new operatic work that featured original songs and real stories based on the experiences of Chicago’s South Side youth. 

31 students from 18 high schools had been working since last October to create an original opera based on their own experiences living in Chicago’s South and West Side communities. With music by Damien Sneed and script adapted by Ike Holter, student participants performed alongside acclaimed soprano Angela Brown, and Ryan Opera Center alumnus baritone Will Liverman, and a 10-piece orchestra. An enthusiastic audience of over 1,100 enjoyed the evocative scenic and costume designs and the confident singing, dancing, and acting in this dynamic new work.

EMPOWER concluded the first year of EmpowerYouth!: Igniting Creativity Through The Arts, a groundbreaking partnership between the Chicago Urban League and Lyric Opera of Chicago. The program’s sophomore year will be announced soon, and will include more details on how to reserve your ticket for next year’s performance. 

You can always learn more about Lyric Unlimited's work in our community by visiting us online. 

Photos: Todd Rosenberg, Jaclyn Simpson, Kyle Flubacker, Courtesy Lyric Opera of Chicago