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The Second City Guide to the Opera wins two Jeff Awards

The Second City Guide to the Opera, the groundbreaking collaboration by Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Second City, wins Jeff Awards for Best Production: Revue and Best Director: Revue!

The Second City Guide to the Opera, the groundbreaking collaboration by Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Second City, won Jeff Awards for Best Production: Revue and Best Director: Revue during the 45th annual Jeff Equity Awards gala on Monday. The ceremony took place at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. “This is the first time Lyric Opera of Chicago has been nominated, and to win this prestigious award is truly thrilling,” said Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director.

The Jeff Awards are billed as “a celebration of excellence in Chicago theatre” and have honored outstanding theater artists annually since 1968. During the 2012-13 season, Jeff Awards judges attended opening nights of 143 Equity productions offered by 52 producing organizations. From these openings, 109 productions were “Jeff Recommended” and eligible for award nominations, resulting in 166 nominations in 36 categories.

The Second City Guide to the Opera premiered in a sold-out, one-night-only performance in the Civic Opera House on January 5, 2013. Lyric Opera creative consultant Renée Fleming had the idea to bring together the world-renowned comedy troupe and opera company, both legendary Chicago institutions, to see what kinds of creative sparks might fly. “This unexpected mash-up of opera and sketch comedy was a great way to show die-hard opera fans – and new audiences – a fun side of our centuries-old art form,” said Fleming.

The resulting revue-style show featured opera-themed comedic sketches performed by ensemble members of The Second City and The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, with Fleming and legendary stage and screen actor Sir Patrick Stewart sharing emcee duties and appearing in sketches and satirical vignettes. Lyric Opera Orchestra musicians and revue music director Jesse Case (music director for The Second City e.t.c.) provided accompaniment. Case, Tim Sniffen, and Kate James wrote the material; The Second City’s Billy Bungeroth directed, and TSC’s Kelly Leonard was executive producer.

The resounding success of the January performance led to a month-long run of cabaret-style performances May 31-June 30, with audience and performers onstage at the Civic Opera House. It was this 23-show run (including new material) that was seen by Jeff-Award judges.

Performers for the extended run were Second City ensemble members Joey Bland*Molly Brennan, Lilli-Anne Brown, Beth Melewski*, Tim Ryder, and Timothy Sniffen*Billy Bungeroth* was director, Jesse Case* was music director and writer, and Kate James* and Timothy Sniffen* were writers. Singers from Lyric were mezzo-soprano Lauren Curnow and tenor Bernard Holcomb*, both former members of the Ryan Opera Center. (*participated in the January show) Musicians for the early-summer shows were Jesse Case/piano and guitar, John Macfarlane/violin, and Laura Deming/cello (both members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra).

The Second City Guide to the Opera is a project of Lyric Unlimited, a multifaceted program of expanded community engagement and artistic initiatives.

All performances of The Second City Guide to the Opera were sponsored by PNC Bank.

For more information on the Jeff Awards, click here.

For more information on Joseph Jefferson III, the 19th-century actor for whom the awards are named, click here.

Blackhawks on Wacker

Parsifal's chalice, Eisenstein's champagne flute, Lord Stanley's cup—all coming to Chicago this year! Lyric celebrates the 2013 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks!

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Parsifal's chalice, Eisenstein's champagne flute, Lord Stanley's cupall coming to Chicago this year!

Lyric joins the rest of Chicago in saluting the 2013 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, who secured the championship Monday night after winning Game 6 in Boston. The Hawks last brought home the Cup in 2010, and 2 million Chicago fans greeted the team for a rally and parade in the Loop. Official attendance estimates for this morning's victory parade aren't yet in, but the crowd looked huge from the fourth floor windows of the Civic Opera House!

Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared Friday, June 28 a "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" for the entire city. Enjoy the celebratory photos below and, like Alfredo in La traviata, "Raise the joyful cup, resplendent with beauty."

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Midsummer meistersinger Jamie Barton

American mezzo Jamie Barton wins big in Cardiff! Jamie has been awarded both the title of Cardiff Singer of the World and the Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize. She is only the second singer in the competition's history to win both awards.  

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American mezzo Jamie Barton wins big in Cardiff! Jamie has been awarded both the title of Cardiff Singer of the World and the Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize. She is only the second singer in the competition's history to win both awards. 

Following her win, Jamie graciously posted to Facebook:

"I cannot begin to describe the feeling'When you wish upon a star' comes to mind! So many thanks to those involved with the competitionthe staff, the adjudicators, and my fellow competitors, who are just as beautiful people as they are artists. I look forward to meeting all of you down the road in the life of our careerswhat incredible music will be made!"

British classical music critic Mike Smith reviews Jamie's magnificent performance in the final concert: 

"The 31-year-old’s cleverly structured programme comprised a perfect aria from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, displaying her smooth melting mezzo before giving a characterful Witch’s aria from Hänsel und Gretel. Her Sibelius was hauntingly beautiful and her closing choice of Dido’s dark and gorgeous aria from Berlioz’s Les Troyens meticulously sung and a clear competition clincher." 

Congratulations to a Lyric favorite, meistersinging mezzo Jamie Barton!

Learn more about the Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

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Magdalene in MEISTERSINGER a meistersinger in Cardiff!

Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who earlier this year thrilled Lyric audiences as Magdalene in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, is onstage for another song competition. This week, she's representing the United States of America in the BBC's biennial Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Barton headshotMezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who earlier this year thrilled Lyric audiences as Magdalene in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, is onstage for another song competition. This week, she's representing the United States of America in the BBC's biennial Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Twenty early-career opera and concert singers from around the world convene in Cardiff to represent their home countries. Each competitor sings a program in one of four preliminary concerts, each judged by an international panel of experts. The five highest-scoring singers advance to the final concert. All singers receive tremendous international exposure, and the winner of the final concert is awarded £15,000 and a trophy. 

The finalists will be announced later today. Jamie won the first prelim, so her chances of making the Sunday, June 23 final are strong! Go USA!

Jamie also has been named a finalist for the parallel Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize. For the Song Prize final concert, taking place tomorrow, June 21 at 7:30pm GMT, Jamie will sing Purcell, Brahms, Sibelius, and Rachmaninoff.

Can't tune in to the BBC? Support Jamie by browsing the photo gallery of her Lyric appearances below and by listening on 98.7WFMT and wfmt.com to the Lyric Opera of Chicago Broadcasts rebroadcast of Die Meistersinger at noon on June 22!

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