Near the end of school last year in Guilford County, fourth grader Lily Leach submitted her script to the popular ‘Write Your Own Opera’ contest. The winning entry would be cast, set to music, and performed. The contest, which also carries the name of Barbara Ann Peters, the former executive director of Greensboro Opera, is a collaboration among groups and local professionals who want young people to know that opera can be funny and interesting.
Lily’s story began on the first day of sixth grade for a character named Danyelle, who is sleeping. When her mother comes to wake her, her older sister, Ella, already is dressed and anxious to get to school. As the story unfolds, Danyelle feels the pressure to dance like her sister, who is as graceful as the ballerina they’ve seen in “Swan Lake.” When she dances in a performing arts class, the teacher tells her it doesn’t look as if she is having fun. ‘Finally Me!’ is the story of learning to be yourself in the face of the expectations of others.
David Holley, the director of opera at UNCG, was excited when he discovered Lily’s script among the submissions and immediately began visualizing a production.
He called on composer Mark Engebretson, whom he had previously worked with at Opera at the Carolina productions. UNCG students were cast as the characters Lily had written
For the opera’s big musical score, Engebretson tapped into the popular pop and rock music his own children were listening to — which often included a catchy and repeating hook. The 15 minute opera premiered in February and students were brought in from across the county to see the opera performed at the historic Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro.
Those attending Greensboro Bound will get a chance to see this unique opera on Saturday, May 19 at 1:00 pm in the Van Dyke Performance Space at the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center. This performance is free and open to all.
David Holley, Lily Leach, Barbara Peters, Mark Engebretson