Chicago-born soprano Ailyn Pérez returns to her hometown for a solo recital presented by the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago on Thursday, September 8, 2017. “They tell you a career in opera is a gypsy life,” Pérez said in a recent interview, “and boy, they weren’t kidding!”

Pérez grew up on the South Side of Chicago and later Elk Grove, Illinois. Since, she’s travelled the globe performing alongside the likes of Plácido Domingo. Though humble about her own success, Pérez said that when she’s had the opportunity to work alongside some of her heroes, like Domingo, “I definitely fan-girl out!”

In 2006, she met Plácido Domingo when she won second prize in Operalia, a singing competition which the tenor founded. “Around the same time, I had sung for Luciano Pavarotti, and that was a huge honor. So after Operalia, when maestro Domingo invited me to tour with him, I thought, ‘What else can there be?’ But then, Jose Carreras invited me on a concert tour. I just died!”

“It was exciting watching my mom meet Plácido Domingo. Years ago, he cancelled a performance in Chicago to go help his family and all those affected by the earthquake in Mexico City.”

She said working alongside artists like Domingo has taught her that, “It’s more than just your life on stage that matters. It’s who you are as a person, how you’re contributing to humanity, and staying grounded, and being generous towards the public and upcoming artists.”

Working with young artists is one reason Pérez is so glad to be back in Chicago. Besides connecting with her family and friends during her time in the Windy City, she paid a visit to her alma mater, Elk Grove High School. She said her early music education was a “life changing experience that provided her with the foundation to have a career in opera.”

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