A local fifth-grade author is about to see her short story turned into an opera. It's already scheduled for performance as part of “Opera at the Carolina.” 

Greensboro Opera's student outreach program is having a big impact on young lives in Guilford County. Lydia Maksimov was a fourth-grader when she penned the short story she titled “Be Yourself.” It tells of a young, voracious reader named Lilly, relocating to North Carolina, overcoming bullying, and later mentoring another newcomer to her school. 

Greensboro Opera Artistic Director David Holley selected Maksimov's story for adaptation into a stage piece. He'll then write the libretto, with music composed by UNCG faculty. He says it's an enormous undertaking, but the end result is always worth it.

"Once we have written the show and the students are cast, we actually invite the child to come see a rehearsal, and the expression on their faces — they're always so amazing," he says. "That they can see the story that was inside their head actually take shape on the stage — it's really cool. I get goosebumps just talking about it right now."

Through the program, in addition to seeing performances of works by their peers, every Guilford County fifth-grader gets to attend a 45-minute reduction of a full opera or one-act at the Carolina Theatre. 

Holley, who's also Director of Opera at UNCG, says that while not every child who comes to hear the performance will become a patron, exposing them to this music can be a life-changing event.

"I stress the fact that there's a lot of people who make their living in the arts. Every student that they're going to see performing on the stage is at school at UNCG on track to get a degree and make their living in music. It sends a message that anyone who's artistically inclined can chase their dream. And we may not be the richest folks in the world monetarily, but we're the richest in being satisfied with our careers and being able to earn a living doing the thing we were created to do."

“Be Yourself,” with story by Lydia Maksimov and libretto by David Holley will premiere at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro in February of 2020.

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