Falling in Love with Opera Helped Change Ting Perlis’s Life

Ting (left) and Deborah (right) Perlis at a performance of The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017)

Ting (left) and Deborah (right) Perlis at a performance of The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017)

A few months ago, we received an extraordinary letter from Deborah Perlis.

Perlis’s daughter, Ting, took part in two of our education and community engagement programs, and Deborah was eager to share with us just how much Ting’s opera experience helped change her life.

When Ting was diagnosed with autism at the age of 10, she and her mother Deborah didn’t know what do. For the next few years, all they heard from professionals was a laundry list of things that Ting would never do or have. Ting struggled in school, had low self-esteem and rarely spoke of her future, except to ask what would become of her.

Despite all the challenges Ting faces every day, she has always had a love of singing.

On a whim, Deborah reached out to our Education and Community Engagement team to discuss some options for Ting. With their help, Ting began her journey at LA Opera.

Ting and Deborah applied to our LA Opera 90012 program. In this annual program, students in grades 7-12 enter an essay competition for a chance to win two free tickets to four of our mainstage opera performances.

Last season, Ting was one of the winners of  our LA Opera 90012 competition.

The first opera she and Deborah saw was Macbeth. During intermission, Deborah noticed a change in Ting. She was so excited and read every detail about the show and the performers in the program. At the end of the opera, Ting turned to Deborah and said, “I can do that. I’m going to do that.”

Since that first performance, Ting also came attended performances of The Abduction from the Seraglio, The Tales of Hoffmann, and Tosca. This summer she participated in Opera Camp – a two-week intensive where fifty kids rehearse and stage a short opera that carries themes of social justice.

Ting Perlis with Maestro James Conlon after a performance of Opera Camp

Ting Perlis with Maestro James Conlon after a performance of Opera Camp

Ting’s hard work and passion for opera has helped to give her the confidence to succeed not only on stage, but in the classroom.

“Since seeing Macbeth, Ting has received the President’s Award for Academic Excellence. She has received a 4.0 GPA. She struggled, and succeeded to bring herself up three academic grade levels, and her focus during her voice lessons defies her diagnosis,” says Deborah. “Instead of asking what will become of her, she now asks me where I think she should get her Master’s Degree.” In addition to her work in the classroom, Ting has received a Certificate of Nomination for the High School Honors Performance Series, which brings selected performers to New York and Sydney, Australia to rehearse with renowned conductors and perform at Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House respectively.

Our hope is that Ting’s passion for opera will take her far in life and we’re honored to be part of her journey.

To learn more about LA Opera 90012 and our other education programs and how you can support them, click here.

LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.
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3 Responses to Falling in Love with Opera Helped Change Ting Perlis’s Life

  1. Bernice Brightbill (aka Adrien Raynier - mezzo soprano) says:

    Ting’s is a remarkable and wonderful story to read in our LA Opera e-
    newsletter! I will share it with other cast members now in Carmen who may not know. I’ve sung for 30 years with LAO and this gives me not only personal & professional gratitude but tears of emotion to realize that our sum of good works has made such a great contribution to her life. Thanks so much for sharing…I’d love to give her backstage “tour” whenever appropriate.
    Much love, Bernice Brightbill (aka Adrien Raynier – mezzo soprano)

    • Stacy Brightman says:

      Dear Bernice,

      Thank you for your kind and generous response! I share your delight; it has been the greatest honor and pleasure getting to know Ting and her mom, and welcoming them into the LA Opera family. When you have a moment, could you send me a message or call here at the opera and let’s figure out how to take you up on your beautiful offer.
      With immense gratitude,
      Stacy Brightman
      (VP for Education and Community Engagement)

  2. Ida Lanza says:

    Music is the magic we are all looking for. It literally changes peoples lives when they discover the amazing power of opera. I too have had several students tell me that see a live opera for the first time changed their lives. More teachers need to bring their students to see this all-encompassing art form. Brava Ting!! Keep following your dream.

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