Lyric Opera’s Youth Opera Council attended a portion of an orchestra rehearsal for the Domingo/Martinez Gala. Afterwards they were welcomed into the pit by numerous members of the orchestra who demonstrated instruments and answered questions. This bright, articulate group of students is part of a year-long program that gives them access to all aspects of the opera.
Alejandra Boyer, Lyric Unlimited Manager explained that the YOC, now in its third year, is drawn from applicants from all over Chicago and suburbs who have an interest in the performing arts in general. Many are aspiring singers, actors, artists and musicians. Perks of membership include a ticket to each opera in the season plus a chance to invite friends to attend “A Night at the Opera”. This season,175 YOC members and friends attended Cenerentola with seats on the main floor for $20.
Principal trombone Jeremy Moeller proved that the trombone is one of the loudest instruments in the pit with a sample of “The Ride of the Valkyries” and principal flutist Mimi Tachouet talked about how training for a marathon is similar to preparing for the endurance of opera performances. One of our newest members, violist Amy Hess, described the audition process. The students were surprised to learn that preliminary rounds take place behind a screen to ensure anonymity. Violist Frank Babbitt prepared an opera quiz and the winner received one of our fabulous Lyric Opera Orchestra t-shirts.
Lyric’s Creative Consultant Renee Fleming joined us in the lounge for pizza and more conversation. She asked the question, “Why are the arts and creativity important?” The answers were varied and enthusiastic and showed that teens can make excellent advocates for the arts and for opera. YOC member Janek Schaller, a student at Oak Park River Forest High School and frequent super at Lyric, gave one of many responses. He spoke of performing a chorus from Wagner’s Tannhauser with his school orchestra and chorus, and how thrilling it was to be part of so many people making music together. “Arts classes are my favorite. If you don’t like sports, you can be part of a team and express yourself like no other place in school.”