Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Lately

Heritage Bicycles and THE SOUND OF MUSIC

A special production like The Sound of Music calls for very special props. Learn more about the custom-made bikes from Chicago's own Heritage Bicycles that were especially designed for the von Trapp children and Rolf!

When Lyric starts to gather the props for a grand-scale new production of  The Sound of Music, our expert production team tries to find as many authentic and unique sources as possible. Set designer Michael Yeargan's plans for the show included bicycles for the von Trapp children and Rolf—which meant finding some period-appropriate bikes. It was also important to both Michael and director Marc Bruni that the bikes look new, because the von Trapp family was wealthy, making vintage bikes out of the question. 

How do you solve a problem like these bicycles? The answer was right here in Chicago! Heritage Bicycles General Store is owned by Michael and Melissa Salvatore, who pride themselves on manufacturing every custom bicycle they make completely in Chicago. Located just south of Lincoln and Belmont in the Lakeview neighborhood, Heritage Bicycles is a general store where you can try out a bike, buy a new helmet, or just get a great latte!

Owner Michael Salvatore gave us some insight into how they make each bike and his family's connection to Lyric Opera! Michael is a Chicago native who, oddly enough, went to Hardey Prep—the same grade school as our own Captain von Trapp, Billy Zane. 

How long does it take for you to manufacture each bicycle?

We generally have two steps. First, we run a production of a frame and size. Ideally, we make 40 at a time of any one type/size. This generally takes up to 3 weeks to complete. This gives us the raw frame. Second, we meet with customers to customize their bike. This can take 3 to 5 weeks depending on the upgrades. Custom paint will take 14 to 21 days and, depending on components and ordering, the finished product may take another week or so.

Are the bikes one of your regular styles or custom for the show? Did you have to make specific modification to make sure they were appropriate for the late 1930s, when the show is set?

Well, on the specific instance of The Sound of Music, we had just completed making our first run of step-through Dutch-inspired bicycles. When you gave us the call and we dug into the story and props a little more, it was obvious to me that "The Jane" was the bike that would be a fit for the musical. We just had to make some slight adjustments to customize specifically for this production.

Have you made bikes for any other theater productions, films, or TV shows?

Back in 2012 we sent a couple bikes out for a movie called Chinese Puzzle. It was being filmed in New York City. We have also sent bikes to The Steve Harvey Show. Last year, we made bikes for Lollapalooza and Pitchfork.

Out of the many accomplishments Heritage Bicycles General Store has had over the past couple years, I have never heard my parents be as excited as they were when they heard we were making the bikes for Lyric Opera. They have been subscribers for 25+ years, and I am sure the moment they see our bikes on stage their heads are going to blow! So thanks for giving me some parental points. 

You can see the custom craftsmanship of Michael and his team on stage at Lyric from April 25 to May 25!

Photo credit

  • Heritage Bicycles custom-made for The Sound of Music (Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)

 

A Day in the Life of Lyric Opera Chorister Pam Williams

Lyric Opera Chorus member Pam Williams describes a typical day for her, which includes rehearsal, tax preparation, and a performance of Rusalka.

Pam Williams has lived in Chicago since 1997 and been a member of the Lyric Opera Chorus since 1999. She is originally from Snellville, Georgia (just east of Atlanta). She did her undergraduate work at Georgia State University and then went to Indiana University for her master's degree. Pam takes us through her schedule on Friday, March 7, a typical day in the life of a working musician!

I love my job! I love that I get to do for a living what I set out to do when I began my studies in music. SING!!! Granted, my path hasn't always been focused on opera, but always on singing.  But this is where my path has led me...right here to the chorus of Lyric Opera of Chicago. And it makes me happy, and I feel quite fortunate!

Each one of the members of the chorus has wildly varying lives within and without the walls of this building. Many teach voice in addition to singing here. Others have other jobs outside of Lyric. But for me, at this phase of life, I have this one job. This doesn't mean this is ALL I do and the rest of the time I sit at home watching Judge Judy eating bon-bons. :)

Here is my today: I started the day out warming up for a coaching on The Old Maid and the Thief that I'll be performing in as part of Opera Up Close concert series at Governors State University at the end of the month. I'm playing Miss Todd. Love it. She's nuts. Now, I'm catching up on some work (tax prep...late!), emails, more music study, recital planning, etc. Later on, I'll be meeting up with some awesome and fun colleagues for a promo video shoot for this upcoming GSU concert. Should be hilarious!  Follow this with a performance of our stunning production of Rusalka  this evening. It will be a day full of music and music-related things! Then…I sleep. :) Tomorrow...a completely different day, but more practicing and another show—La Clemenza di Tito!

One of the fun things about this job in the chorus is the variety. It definitely makes it more interesting to have a couple of shows going at the same time. Early in this season, we were very busy with three different shows on stage at the same time while rehearsing a fourth! A question I am often asked is: Do you forget which show you are singing when juggling multiple shows? Nope. Once in the proper costume and on the proper set, the right words and music seem to know where they belong!

Photo credit: Pam Williams backstage at Lyric in costume for Rusalka. Photo courtesy Pam Williams. 

Subjects:

From Seville to RUSALKA in 60 Seconds or Less!

If you thought moving was hard, you can't imagine what goes into shifting thousands of pounds of sets that are the backbone of Lyric's magnificent productions. Here is what it takes to go from The Barber of Seville to Rusalka in just one minute.

Time_Lapse_Image

If you thought moving was hard, you can't imagine what goes into shifting thousands of pounds of sets that are the backbone of Lyric's magnificent productions. Here is what it takes to deconstruct the wrought-iron creations of Scott Pask from The Barber of Seville—including a 300-gallon reflecting pool!—to make way for John Macfarlane's gothic wonderland for Rusalka, which incorporates a forest, lake, gigantic kitchen, and ballroom complete with fireplace and 59 mounted deer heads. Through the magic of time lapse, you can watch these nine hours of intense work condensed to one minute!

 

Photo credits:
(top row) Act One, The Barber of Seville by Dan Rest / Lyric Opera of Chicago.
(bottom row, l-r) Rusalka, Act One by Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago; Rusalka, Act Two by Robert Kusel / Lyric Opera of Chicago

Subjects:

Hairdos and Hair Don'ts

The season doesn't officially open until October 5, but Lyric's wigs and makeup team is already hard at work creating coiffures! We checked in with Sarah Hatten, wigmaster and makeup designer, on the "hairdos" and "hair don'ts" of stage styles.

The season doesn't officially open until October 5, but Lyric's wigs and makeup team is already hard at work creating coiffures! We checked in with Sarah Hatten, wigmaster and makeup designer, on the "hairdos" and "hair don'ts" of stage style.

'Do: Lyric's wig makers DO attach each and every hair individually when creating a hand-tied wig (pictured above, far left), a process that can take 40-60 hours per wig.

Don't: They DON'T put a wig on every artist in a production—for example, in last season's La Bohème, most of the artists used their own hair, and Mimì had hair extensions.

Photos: Jaclyn Simpson Photography

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