Chicago students' original opera to premiere at Lyric Opera House

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A first of its kind opera is coming to the Lyric Opera House. It's all a part of a partnership between Lyric and the Chicago Urban League.

This will be the first time ever students will take the main stage at the Lyric Opera with an original story about their lives. The hard work of these students is making us Chicago Proud.

Students in the Empower Youth program were putting their finishing touches on their original opera. These kids from the city's South and West Sides have been working since October in the afterschool program to develop skills in singing, acting, movement and dance. They have taken part in all aspects of the show, including how their story is told.

"It is created by the experiences and the stories that we've heard from the young people as we've been working together. So they have had the chance to work with several teaching artists along the way and be able to share stories, either personal experiences or the way that they view themselves, their lives within the city," said Lyric Opera Director of Community Programs Alejandra Valarino Boyer.

The many weeks of preparation has given students like Kaylynn Cavens a new outlook on the world of opera.

"It opened up our eyes to what we could do in life. I never looked at acting, but oooh it's kind of fun. It's easy to remember lines they taught you how to remember lines the easy way so it won't be so hard," said Kaylynn Cavens, a junior at Southshore International College Prep High School.

The entire focus of the program is to give kids a new experience in the world of arts, build confidence and give students a chance to speak their minds.

"Their voice matters that they are important, that they matter and that they have something to say that people want to hear. I think that when people see this performance on May 31st that it is really going to change not only hearts, but minds about how they view the young people from Chicago," said Danielle Parker, Chief of Staff at Chicago Urban League.

"I feel like we are actually going to do good. I feel like we are going to have a standing ovation. I feel like people will love it and see our side of the story and they will want an encore," Cavens said.

The premise of the show is students banding together doing positive things and fighting against negative representations in the media.

These kids are speaking on real topics that matter to them.

The world premiere of Empower will take place on Thursday, May 31 at the Lyric Opera at 7 p.m.

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