Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Family Barber Introduces Kids to the Magic of Opera!

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A scene from Lyric’s main stage production of The Barber of Seville.

Children enjoyed kid-friendly programs and bags of popcorn at last year’s Popcorn & Pasquale.

Children smile while watching Lyric performers on stage.


On Saturday, March 22, if you wander past the Civic Opera House, you just may catch a glimpse of an entirely new generation of opera lovers – many experiencing the magic of opera for the very first time. The Family Barber is a new, 60-minute opera adventure designed by Lyric Unlimited, Lyric Opera’s education and community programming division. We sat down with Lyric Unlimited Director Cayenne Harris to talk about the fun that’s in store for families with this exciting premiere!

Lyric Notes: Tell us about the genesis of The Family Barber.

Cayenne Harris: Last season, when we presented Popcorn & Pasquale – to a sold-out opera house! – it was clear that there was an interest in family-friendly programming. We wanted to extend our commitment by offering an annual family performance at very affordable prices. We are eager to introduce young children to the joys of opera, sparking their curiosity about the art form, which hopefully will develop as they grow.

LN: Is The Family Barber an abridged opera or something entirely new?

CH: It’s an introduction to the world of opera for young children and their families. The performance combines the familiar music and characters of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville with some captivating newly written dialogue to reveal behind-the-scenes opera basics in a fun and engaging way. It includes some elements of the original opera, like its main arias and musical themes, but it is not an abridged version of The Barber of Seville. A special cast including members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center will be joined by professional actors in spoken segments between the musical selections.

LN: What age do you recommend for attendance at The Family Barber?

CH: The performance is specially-designed for children aged 5-10 years old. Slightly younger or older children will still enjoy it! And there are some laughs for parents and grandparents, too.

LN: Will there be many of the elements of a traditional opera performance?

CH: Yes! Audiences will enjoy the story unfolding on the beautiful set from Lyric's mainstage production of The Barber of Seville, and the singers will be fully costumed. The fantastic Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus are also featured in the performance.

LN: But there will be some non-traditional elements, too, won’t there?

CH: Absolutely! We want to create a fun and welcoming environment and break some of our usual rules. For starters, the performance will be entirely in English. There will also be special snacks available at the concession areas and food can be consumed inside the theater. We hope to create a family-friendly musical and theatrical experience that everyone will remember for years to come.

The Family Barber runs for one performance only on Saturday, March 22 at 2pm at the Civic Opera House. Tickets – priced just $10-$20 for kids and $20-$40 for adults – are going fast. To purchase, CLICK HERE or call 312.827.5600 today!


Anthony Freud, Sir Andrew Davis, and Renée Fleming discuss Lyric Unlimited's The Family Barber


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The Family Barber is a Lyric Unlimited event.

The Family Barber is generously sponsored by the Dr. Scholl Foundation, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, Nuveen Investments, U.S. Bank, Bulley & Andrews LLC, the Sage Foundation, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Crawford, Jr.

Media Sponsor: Chicago Tribune  

Photos by Robert Kusel and Dan Rest