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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.


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:

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.

Lyric Unlimited kicks off its second season

New and expanded Lyric Unlimited programs for the 2013/14 season: Open House Chicago, Lyric Uncorked, Youth Opera Council, Discovery Series, Vocal Partnership Program, and The Family Barber.

New and expanded programs for audiences of all ages:


Saturday, October 19, 2013
Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lyric Opera opens the doors to the Civic Opera House as part of Open House Chicago for free public viewing. Guests can take in the stunning Art Deco lobby and foyer and explore the beauty of the Ardis Kranik Theatre. As part of Lyric’s annual OPERATHON, which will take place in the Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room that same day, guests will also have the opportunity to see live performances of opera arias with piano accompaniment by members of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center on the hour, every hour from 10am until 1pm. 


Save the Dates!
October 28, November 4, November 18, 2013

After a successful pilot run, Lyric Uncorked will be open to the public. This fun and social learning program is perfect for those seeking an entertaining introduction to the world of opera. This fall, Lyric Unlimited audience education manager Jesse Gram and other Lyric staff members will tear down misconceptions and demystify the opera experience from the music to the costumes. Join us for the next edition of Lyric Uncorked and discover what makes Verdi’s La Traviata  an opera gem, and take a behind the scenes look at Lyric’s new production. Registration will be available soon!


Lyric Opera’s Youth Opera Council is a new program designed for high school students who are passionate about opera and want to learn more about the inner workings of a professional opera company. This dedicated group of young opera lovers will have unique learning and leadership opportunities by working closely with Lyric Opera staff to develop programs and events that are of interest to council members and their peers. 


The Discovery Series has a new home this year! Join artists, conductors, and directors in Lyric Opera’s Rice Grand Foyer as they share their unique perspective and give in-depth insight into this season’s productions. 

A special Discovery Series will take place on Thursday, October 10, in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago. The presentation on Parsifal will include art commentary focusing on artists’ representations of Parsifal followed by a panel discussion about Lyric’s new production with director John Caird, designer Johan Engels, and Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines. The Parsifal Discovery Series will take place at the Art Institute of Chicago’s beautiful Fullerton hall from 6-7pm and is free of charge. 


Lyric Unlimited has expanded its Vocal Partnership Program, which began with the Merit School of Music, to include the Music Institute of Chicago, Chicago High School for the Arts, Chicago Arts Academy, and Gallery 37. This season students studying voice at these partner institutions will have the opportunity to participate in master classes led by Lyric artists, hear recitals presented by Ryan Opera Center ensemble members, as well as attend working rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and other Lyric events.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lyric Opera opens its doors once again to young children and their parents with The Family Barber, an hour long introduction to the world of opera featuring the music and characters of The Barber of Seville. Hear all the best-loved arias and meet all the famous Barber characters in this fun, English language production. The performance will be fully staged and costumed, and stars members of the Ryan Opera Center plus the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus! 

These programs are part of Lyric Unlimited, with major support from The Hurvis Family Foundation.

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