Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Renée Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma Together Again!

On December 11, Lyric Opera of Chicago creative consultant Renée Fleming joined Chicago Symphony Orchestra creative consultant Yo-Yo Ma at a key event supporting arts education in the Chicago Public Schools. 

On December 11, Lyric Opera of Chicago creative consultant Renée Fleming joined Chicago Symphony Orchestra creative consultant Yo-Yo Ma at a key event supporting arts education in the Chicago Public Schools.

To an audience of CPS principals, network chiefs, teachers, and students, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that 45 schools would be receiving funding for art learning opportunities. These awards are the inaugural grants from the newly created Creative Schools Fund, which is part of the CPS Arts Education Plan. 

Among the 45 grantees are seven schools that have participated in Lyric Unlimited’s educational programs this season: Charles R. Darwin Elementary School, George Armstrong International Studies Elementary School, Henry Clay Elementary School, Hiram H. Belding Elementary School, Jordan Elementary Community School, Kenwood Academy High School, and Lionel Hampton Fine & Performing Arts Elementary School.

After remarks from Lyric Opera general director Anthony Freud and the announcement from the mayor, Renée spoke passionately about the transformative power of arts in schools. The daughter of two public school music teachers, she described being a shy teenager who found her voice and a way of expressing herself through music and poetry.  

The event featured performances from student groups, including a choir from Gallery 37, an afterschool choral program for CPS students that is also one of five participants in Lyric’s Vocal Partnership Program. This expanded program, part of Lyric Unlimited, gives students the opportunity to learn about opera and develop their skills through special events such as Lyric Opera performances and rehearsals, backstage tours, and master classes and conversations with main stage artists.

Kiela Nelson, a member of the Gallery 37 choir, is also part of Lyric’s new Youth Opera Council. She and her fellow singers met and mingled with Renée Fleming after the event.

Renée and Yo-Yo also performed a delightful rendition of “Winter Wonderland,” a nod to the arctic temperatures in Chicago and across the nation.  

Lyric and the CSO are the lead arts partners for the CPS Arts Education Plan. As part of that collaboration, Fleming and Ma have been named National Cultural Advisors, providing guidance to CPS and the Mayor’s Office and raising awareness of the importance of the arts for every child in every classroom.

Both artists were present in October 2012 when Mayor Emanuel first announced the CPS Arts Education Plan at Perez Elementary School. And earlier that year, Renée and Yo-Yo joined members of the CSO and CPS students in a special performance at the Thompson Center designed to bring attention to the importance of the arts in the lives of students.

 

Get the full details about these grants from the Mayor’s Office. 

 

Read more from Mark Caro in the Chicago Tribune. 

 

Photos: Todd Rosenberg Photography
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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.

Join us in celebrating National Opera Week

Join us in celebrating National Opera Week with A Week in the Life of Lyric Opera! October 25 through Sunday, November 3.

Join us in celebrating National Opera Week with "A Week in the Life of Lyric Opera"!

From Friday, October 25 through Sunday, November 3, Lyric will celebrate our wonderful artists, administrators, and audience members of all ages who participate in our wide-ranging programs—both at the opera house and in the community—by sharing photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and here on our blog (photos will be added throughout the week so check back often!). “A Week in the Life of Lyric Opera” showcases our vast Lyric family and community!

We encourage you to take pictures to show off the role opera plays in your life, too! Do you listen to a recording while you work out? Sing in a community chorus? Play an instrument? Or just sit back and relax with one of the classics and a glass of wine? Print and pose with one of our signs in your photos, or make your own! Then post your photos to your own social media accounts as often as you’d like throughout the weeksimply tag Lyric Opera and use #operaweek to be included.

Facebook: facebook.com/LyricOpera
Twitter:
 @LyricOpera
Instagram:
 lyricopera

Lyric Opera opens its doors for Open House Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago opens its doors to the public as part of Chicago Architecture Foundation’s free Open House Chicago, October 19-20.

Lyric Opera of Chicago opens its doors to the public as part of Chicago Architecture Foundation’s free Open House Chicago, October 19-20.

Get a soprano’s-eye view from the stage!
Art-Deco lobby, foyer, and theater of the Civic Opera House accessible Saturday, October 19, 
9am–2pm and Sunday, October 209am–5pm. 

Brief onstage vocal performances hourly on Saturday between 10am and 1pm.

Lyric Opera of Chicago will open the doors to the Civic Opera House October 19-20 for free public viewing as part of The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago. Visitors will have access to the stunning Rice Grand Foyer and Ardis Krainik Theatre, and will have the opportunity to stand onstage for a soprano’s-eye view!

On Saturday, guests may also experience live vocal performances with piano accompaniment. At 10am, 11am, 12pm, and 1pm, ensemble members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center of Lyric Opera of Chicago will perform in the auditorium of the Civic Opera House, which opened in 1929 and is noted for its beautiful Art-Deco décor. 

Lyric Opera of Chicago is among the 150 sites featured during Open House Chicago, a free public festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to 150 buildings across Chicago for one weekend annually. 

This is a project of Lyric Unlimited, a long-term, evolving initiative that encompasses company activities outside of Lyric’s mainstage season. Lyric Unlimited offers a multifaceted program of community engagement and artistic initiatives and includes Lyric's longstanding education programs. 

For more information: openhousechicago.org.

Follow Lyric on Twitter @LyricOpera. #OHC2013. 

Saturday visitors to the Civic Opera House will have the added option of seeing Lyric’s annual OPERATHON fundraiser being broadcast live on 98.7WFMT from the street-level Pedersen Room restaurant at the Civic Opera House.

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