Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Summer spotlight: Ryan Opera Center rocks Chicagoland!

Ryan Opera Center singers continue their acclaimed summer concert appearances with four nights of free music downtown. Save the dates! 

MillenniumPark2012

Hear five Ryan Opera Center ensemble members perform as soloists in Schubert’s Mass in E Flat Major on Friday, August 9 at 6:30pm or Saturday, August 10 at 7:30pm. Part of the celebrated Grant Park Music Festival, these free outdoor concerts in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion boast Chicago's most melodic lake breezes and picnic opportunities until Lyric launches its 2013-14 season on Saturday, September 7 at 7:30pm with the annual Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park free concert.

Chicago Tribune classical music critic John von Rhein raved about the 2013-14 Ryan Opera Center ensemble in their recent performance of Leonard Bernstein's Songfest and Elliott Carter's A Mirror on Which to Dwell at Ravinia's Martin Theatre on July 4:

"Were Bernstein still alive, I can imagine the kisses and bear hugs he would have bestowed on Thursday's performers. [The] concert was anchored by seven Ryan Center members, four of them first-year apprentices blessed with attractive, well-schooled voices and exceptional professional promise: mezzo-soprano Julie Anne Miller, tenor Adam Bonanni, baritone Anthony Clark Evans and bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba. They appeared alongside center 'veterans' Emily Birsan and Tracy Cantin, sopranos; and J'nai Bridges, [mezzo]. Ollarsaba was fully inside the aching tenderness of Walt Whitman's homosexual confession, 'To What You Said,' a poem unpublished during the poet's lifetime. Cantin thrilled as the proud Latino woman of 'A Julia Burgos,' which she sang in the original Spanish. Two different sides of the black American experience came together vividly in the duet sung by Miller and Evans. Bridges wrapped her voluptuous voice splendidly around the bitter regret of an Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnet. Bonanni was just as adroit in his handling of the tricky rhythmic declamation of the similarly rueful 'Zizi's Lament.'... Birsan trace[d] Carter's six settings of Elizabeth Bishop poems with amazing clarity of diction, accuracy of intonation and fineness of expression." 

Ryan Opera Center singers also will provide after-work entertainment tomorrow, July 30, at 5:45 pm, when J'nai Bridges, John Irvin, and Will Liverman contribute excerpts from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville to the Rush Hour Concerts 2013 Summer Concert Series. Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines will provide connecting narration for the half hour program, which will be broadcast live from St. James Cathedral on 98.7WFMT/WFMT.com. All three Ryan Opera Center singers will revisit their famous comedic roles in Lyric Unlimited's The Family Barber next March.

SAVE THE DATES of these free downtown events on your summer calendar:

• Tuesday, July 30 at 5:45pm: "Lyric Shorts: Rossini's The Barber of Seville" at St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron at Wabash

• Friday, August 9 at 6:30pm: The Grant Park Music Festival presents Schubert’s Mass in E Flat Major in Pritzker Pavilion

• Saturday, August 10 at 7:30pm: The Grant Park Music Festival presents Schubert’s Mass in E Flat Major in Pritzker Pavilion

• Saturday, September 7 at 7:30pm: Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park in Pritzker Pavilion

Pictured above: Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park 2012 in the Jay Pritzker Pavillion (Photo: Robert Kusel/Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Not your average summer job

This summer, Ryan Opera Center alumni are enjoying high-profile engagements at music festivals and opera houses across the country and around the world. Here are some of many glowing reviews of their summer gigs! 

SFOmarriageoffigaro

This summer, Ryan Opera Center alumni are enjoying high-profile engagements at music festivals and opera houses across the country and around the world. Here are some of many glowing reviews of their summer gigs! Lucky for Chicago audiences, all Ryan Opera Center alumni featured below have sung at Lyric within the past two seasons, and several will return in 2013-14

• Tenor René Barbera as Rodrigo in Santa Fe Opera's La donna del lago: "René Barbera, as Rodrigo, hit top-of-range pitches securely and embraced his rapid scales with gusto."  James M. Keller, The New Mexican

• Mezzo-soprano Emily Fons as Cherubino and soprano Susanna Phillips as the Countess in Santa Fe Opera's The Marriage of Figaro: "The casting of the singers is inspired. Every member of this handsome assemblage fits into the action with absolute credibility, each bringing substantial vocal and dramatic gifts to bear."  James M. Keller, The New Mexican

• Soprano Maria Kanyova as Miriam in San Francisco Opera's world premiere of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene: "The music has the most profile and intensity in the scenes for the tormented Miriam, sung by the dusky-voiced soprano Maria Kanyova."  Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

• Baritone Quinn Kelsey as Rigoletto in Opernhaus Zürich's Rigoletto: "Kelsey was alert and naturalistic. His vulnerability glimmered in 'Cortigiani, vil razza dannata' melting through bitterness, anger, despair and resignation with an edge of agony in an effortless voice packed with lyric colors."  Courtney Smith, Auditorium Magazine  

• Soprano Amanda Majeski as the Countess at Glyndebourne Festival's The Marriage of Figaro: "Amanda Majeski’s Countess is dignified and moving; her performance of 'Porgi amor' is poised but deeply reflective and a great showcase for her rich, resonant soprano."  Laura Battle, Financial Times

• Tenor Matthew Polenzani as Hoffman in San Francisco Opera's The Tales of Hoffman: "Polenzani brings physical athleticism and emotional vigor to Hoffman. Occasionally singing with beautifully soft, honeyed tone, but mostly with all-out romantic lyricism, he remains strong and rapturous throughout the opera.... Polenzani’s is a stupendous portrayal."  Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice

• Tenor David Portillo as Count Almaviva in Central City Opera's The Barber of Seville:  "In tenor David Portillo's hands, the count was both hilariousparticularly in his two disguisesand romantic."  Kelly Dean Hansen, DailyCamera.com  

• Bass-baritone Christian van Horn as Lindorf, Coppélius, Dr. Miracle, and Dapertutto in San Francisco Opera's The Tales of Hoffman: "Performing and apparently glorying in all four villain roles is bass-baritone Christian Van Horn. He projects utterly gleeful evil with a voice of turpentine."  Claudia K. Nichols, Concertonet.com

Pictured above: Ryan Opera Center alumnus and internationally renowned tenor Matthew Polenzani.

The BARBER of silver screen

Each summer, members of the Ryan Opera Center ensemble perform in a workshop production, often of an opera from Lyric's upcoming season. Enjoy photos from the June workshop production of Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

 Barberworkshop

Each summer, members of the Ryan Opera Center ensemble perform in a workshop production, often of an opera from Lyric's upcoming season. Last month's workshop afforded Adam Bonanni, J'nai Bridges, Tracy Cantin, Anthony Clark Evans, John Irvin, Will Liverman, and Richard Ollarsaba an opportunity to sing roles that many will perform or understudy in Lyric's February 2014 production of The Barber of Seville. Recent Ryan Opera Center alumnus David Govertsen guest starred as Dr. Bartolo.

Director Matthew Ozawa's charming production concept transported the invited audience of Lyric contributors to the golden age of cinema, where Rosina and Almaviva's romantic comedy unfolded in a Hollywood movie studio. Enjoy some production stills!

Pictured above: Baritone Will Liverman as factotum Figaro shaves bass-baritone David Govertsen as Dr. Bartolo. (Photo: Jaclyn Simpson Photography)

The Ryan Opera Center Recital Series on 98.7WFMT & WFMT.com

During Lyric's 2012-13 season, 98.7WFMT is featuring members of the Ryan Opera Center, Lyric's professional artist-development program, in a monthly broadcast. Each program in The Ryan Opera Center Recital Series comprises a range of musical styles and composers, unified by a central theme. Preview the March program!

Ryan Opera Center members

During Lyric's 2012-13 season, 98.7WFMT is featuring members of the Ryan Opera Center, Lyric's professional artist-development program, in a monthly broadcast. Each program in The Ryan Opera Center Recital Series comprises a range of musical styles and composers, unified by a central theme.  

Up next (on March 4 at 6:00pm):

Voices of Women 
In celebration of Women's History Month, this program will feature sopranos Emily Birsan and Tracy Cantin, mezzo-sopranos J'nai Bridges and Cecelia Hall, and ROC alumnaSusanna Phillips(soprano) singing arias about the lives of women. The program will span centuries and include selections from Mozart, Robert Schumann, Debussy, Richard Danielpour, and more.

The Ryan Opera Center Recital series is broadcast on the first Monday of each month at 6:00pm, and then rebroadcast at 11:00pm on the following Sunday. Visit the Ryan Opera Center page to listen to recordings of past broadcasts.  

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