Farmington Hills Native Returns to Direct at Detroit Opera House

Michael Yashinsky directs a children's opera, 'The Happy Prince', based on an Oscar Wilde story. The cast includes several young Farmington Hills actors.

After five years of study and work at Harvard University, Farmington Hills native Michael Yashinsky has moved back home to direct a children's opera at the Detroit Opera House.

The Michigan Opera Theatre Children's Chorus, including three young actors from the Farmington area, performs The Happy Prince on Sunday, April 28, at 2:30 p.m. Yashinsky is directing Maria Cheriyan, 9, (chorus of angels) of Farmington Hills; Ryan Kotlinski, 13, (chorus of children) of Farmington; and Anya Chudov, 16, (seamstress) of Farmington Hills. Musical director is Livonia resident Dianna Hochella.

The opera, which is based on an Oscar Wilde story, is set in an unnamed city enduring the pangs of poverty and class struggle. According to Yashinsky, within the city, "a few noble souls take it upon themselves to effect real good and undertake acts of self-sacrificing loving-kindess".

The setting reflects the similarities between Wilde's imagined city and Detroit, he said. More than 70 actors ages 8 to 16 will play young people in Detroit, and the set features photographs of the Detroit skyline and local graffiti as the backdrop.

"In other words, it will be a sort of urban fairy tale, designed to delight, to move, and—especially for the maturer souls in the audience—to raise important questions on the present and future of our city," said Yashinsky, who attended Forest Elementary, Hillel Day School and graduated from the Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit in West Bloomfield. 

Tickets for the April 28 performance are $30 for adults and $15 for children. To purchase tickets, visit michiganopera.org or call 313-237-SING. 

Tickets for an April 26, 11 a.m., dress rehearsal are $25 for adults and $15 for children, and may only be purchased at the box office that day. For discounted student or senior group tickets, contact Megan Warzecha atmwarzecha@motopera.org or call 248-914-1966.

Correction: Ryan Kotlinski's hometown was incorrectly reported in the original version of this story. 


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