Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Ryan Opera Center Spotlight: Will Liverman

Baritone and recent Ryan Opera Center alumnus Will Liverman is off to a stellar start in his career. This Juilliard grad just released his first album and he's currently in rehearsals at Opera Philadelphia to create the role of Dizzie Gillespie in the world premiere of Charlie Parker's Yardbird (June 5-14). Read on to hear more about his recording project and his funniest Lyric moment.

Baritone and recent Ryan Opera Center alumnus Will Liverman is off to a stellar start in his career. This Juilliard grad just released his first album and he's currently in rehearsals at Opera Philadelphia to create the role of Dizzie Gillespie in the world premiere of Charlie Parker's Yardbird (June 5-14).

He had a busy 2014-15 season at Lyric: he appeared in the mainstage productions of Capriccio and Porgy and Bess and starred as Papageno in the brand-new children's presentation The Magic Victrola. Liverman also was a featured performer in the Harris Theater for Music and Dance's new "Beyond the Aria" series last season, which was curated by Ryan Opera Center music director Craig Terry. In previous seasons, he appeared in The Barber of Seville, La traviata, and Werther, among others. Read on to hear more about his recording project and his funniest Lyric moment.

Name: Will Liverman
Age: 26
Voice: Baritone
Year in ROC: Alumnus, graduated with the 2014-15 season
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Dream Role: Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca (yes, I know I'm not a tenor!)

When did you start singing? When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

I started singing in choir when I was really young around age 5 or 6. I didn't realize I wanted to really pursue singing until I sang in the supplementary chorus at Lyric Opera when I was in college. The whole experience of being surrounded by amazing talent and getting a chance to perform on a big stage was when I really knew that this was something I wanted.

Did you ever consider a career other than singing? 

If I wasn't singing I probably would've continued to pursue composition and a music education degree.   

What was the most memorable performance you've been in at this point in your career?

Actually the most poignant memory I have was being a part of the chorus in Cavalleria Rusticana at Lyric Opera. We got to the big Easter hymn with Dolora Zajick singing Santuzza and never before had I been overwhelmed with such emotion from just the sheer grandeur of what opera can be.  Being surrounded by the glorious singing of the chorus, the orchestra, Dolora's glorious voice singing over us, the amazing set, looking out to the big hall, and just singing my little heart out was a special moment.  Going back to the previous question, that exact feeling and moment was one that inspired me to pursue this.

What is your most hilarious Ryan Opera Center moment?

There are too many hilarious moments! I guess the funniest would have to be my Ivan persona in Die Fledermaus. It was only a speaking role but it sure was a lot of fun. My character's speaking role is announcing the guests as they arrive to the party and one day just for fun I decided to announce the names as loudly as I possibly could and people thought it was hilarious. So every time after that my goal was to yell the names even louder than I did for the previous show. Sometimes I almost couldn't keep a straight face because of how ridiculous it got by the last performance.

 
Liverman (c) in Die Fledermaus with Emily Fons (l) and Adrian Eröd (r)

Can you tell us a bit about your recently released album?

I just released my very first album entitled Steal Away. It is a collection of spirituals arranged by the very talented composer Shawn Okpebholo. He is a composition professor at Wheaton College, and he heard me sing at an event there and asked if I would be the featured artist on this project. After listening to a few of the spirituals, I was sold. It was so much fun! It was also cool to sing again with fellow Ryan Opera Center alumna J'nai Bridges, who was a featured singer on a few of the spirituals on the album. Overall, it was a great experience and I hope to record something again one day!

Photo credits:

  • Will Liverman portrait credit Devon Cass
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago production photos credit Dan Rest and Todd Rosenberg

 

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Ryan Opera Center Spotlight: Tracy Cantin

Soprano Tracy Cantin just completed her third and final year in the Ryan Opera Center, wrapping up with a stellar 2014-15 season. Read on to hear about some of her most memorable Lyric moments and where this Canadian native finds a taste of home in Chicago.

Soprano Tracy Cantin just completed her third and final year in the Ryan Opera Center, wrapping up with a stellar 2014-15 season. Some of her mainstage appearances at Lyric have included roles in Elektra and Rigoletto in the 2012-13 season, Bertha in The Barber of Seville in 2013-14, and a spectacular mid-performance replacement as the title role in Anna Bolena in January 2015.

Read on to hear about some of her most memorable Lyric moments and where this Canadian native finds a taste of home in Chicago.

Name: Tracy Cantin
Age: 29
Voice: Soprano
Year in ROC: Alumna, graduated at end of 2014-15 season
Hometown: Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Dream Role: Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth

When did you start singing? When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

I started singing at a very early age, and began private voice studies at the age of 11. Music had always been a large part of my life, singing in my high school jazz bands, and various ensembles in my hometown, but it wasn't really until my senior year of high school that I realized I could actually study music in university and actively pursue it as a career. Initially I thought that perhaps I would like to be a music teacher, but I quickly realized that performing is where my heart and soul were drawn, and so I began my journey! 

Did you ever consider a career other than singing? And if you had to imagine an alternative career now, what would it be?

My mom would tell you that I always wanted to be a singer, but to tell you the truth, I wanted to be a hair stylist! An alternate career at this point is almost unimaginable, but I could see myself being a music therapist, or perhaps a speech pathologist—somehow incorporating my love of music into helping others would certainly be a fulfilling alternate career!

What was the most memorable performance you've been in at this point in your career?

Singing on the stage at Lyric is always such an enormous privilege, but I think to date my favorite production was my first: Elektra. What a thrilling experience from beginning to end, from the magnificent cast to the brilliant production and direction, I cannot imagine a better way to have made my professional debut! 

 
Cantin in Elektra (l) and relaxing backstage in costume (r)

What was your experience like stepping in for Sondra Radvanovsky for the last performance of Anna Bolena?

It's quite hard to describe in words to be honest…exhilarating certainly, and somewhat terrifying, but most of all it felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be! I have trained for so many years now, and have come to the end of my apprenticeship with the Ryan Opera Center, and I just felt like my whole life led up to that moment. A great moment! I could not have felt more supported by every single person in the theater that night, whether onstage with me, behind the scenes, or in the audience, and I am so grateful to have had that opportunity. It is a night that I will never forget! 

What are some of your favorite places in Chicago? 

Chicago is such a vibrant city, and I have had a GREAT time exploring it these past few years! I know that there are even more places for me to discover though, and I look forward to having the time this summer to really enjoy this great city. If I really had to choose, Hopleaf  in Andersonville is absolutely my favorite restaurant/bar in town, perhaps because it reminds me a bit of Montreal! Try the CB&J Sandwich. Yum!

Photo credits:

  • Tracy Cantin portrait credit Devon Cass
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago production photos credit Dan Rest and Robert Kusel
  • Elektra backstage photo courtesy Tracy Cantin
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CAROUSEL by the numbers

Lyric's production of Carousel  is one of the grandest spectacles ever to be seen at the Civic Opera House. Here are just a few of the numbers that make all of the onstage splendor possible. Don't miss your opportunity to see a program that the Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones gave a perfect four stars and says "has the smell of Broadway!" Catch this ride before it leaves Chicago on May 3.

Lyric's production of Carousel  is one of the grandest spectacles ever to be seen at the Civic Opera House. Here are just a few of the numbers that make all of the onstage splendor possible. Don't miss your opportunity to see a program that the Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones gave a perfect four stars and says "has the smell of Broadway!" Catch this ride before it leaves Chicago on May 3.

890

Lights in the working carousel that was built especially for this production

600

Fiber optic stars. Both the carousel lights and the stars give this production an otherworldly feel. Celebrated Italian visual artist Paolo Ventura is making his theatrical design debut with Carousel

300

Fake "puff-puff" cigarettes will be used during the entire course of the run. You're most likely to find them in the hands of Billy Bigelow, Mrs. Mullin, and that ne'er-do-well Jigger Craigin!

220

Total costumes in the show, all designed by Tony Award-winner Catherine Zuber. Lyric's wardrobe department has been busy! (To compare, The Sound of Music last season had 130 costumes.)

160

Pairs of shoes. All of those dancers need to hoof in style, fitted with special non-skid soles from Brooks Shoe Repair.

83

Wigs in the show. It takes 40 to 60 hours to create each new wig. Laura Osnes, Jenn Gambatese, Denyce Graves, and Charlotte d'Amboise account for 8 of the wigs—they got two each! And it takes 12 members of Lyric's hair and makeup staff to get everyone ready for each show. 

60

Ensemble members, which may be a Lyric record! This huge cast of singing actors and dancers includes 14 members of the Lyric Opera Chorus. 

37

Musicians in the orchestra, all members (or subs) of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, under the baton of celebrated conductor David Chase.

11

Carousel horses. Five are used on the actual carousel and the other six are in the "dream ballet" sequence, choreographed by the amazing Rob Ashford.

3

Characters in clown makeup.

2

Incredible love stories. Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan are two tornadoes of passion that collide. Carrie Pipperidge and Enoch Snow have a more practical approach, but are no less in love. 

1

Can't-miss experience. Carousel is on stage through May 3!!

 

Photo credits:

  • Carousel production photos credit Robert Kusel and Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Carousel behind-the-scenes photos credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Carousel costume sketches credit Catherine Zuber

 

 

CAROUSEL is the talk of Chicago!

If the rave reviews weren't enough, the acclaimed cast and creative team of Carousel are making their way around Chicago, whether it's on TV or at a Cubs game. Don't miss your chance to see this amazing production. This Carousel must move on May 3!

If the rave reviews weren't enough, the acclaimed cast and creative team of Carousel are making their way around Chicago, whether it's on TV or at a Cubs game. Don't miss your chance to see this amazing production. This Carousel must move on May 3!

The entire cast and director/choreographer Rob Ashford were interviewed on WCIU's "You and Me This Morning" about starting the rehearsal process:

;

Jenn Gambatese, who plays the irrepressible Carrie Pipperidge, performed “Mr. Snow” on ABC 7’s  Windy City Live and gave away some tickets to lucky audience members:

ABC 7's Janet Davies interviewed the incomparable Charlotte d'Amboise and Tony Roberts about their illustrious careers and current roles in Carousel:

Mr. and Mrs. Snow—Jenn Gambatese and Matthew Hydzik—went on  WTTW's Chicago Tonight  to talk with host Phil Ponce about the show and performed "When the Children Are Asleep."

 

Matthew also performed another one of Enoch's signature songs, "In a Manner of Speaking," his ode to his plans for a big sardine factory…and a big family:

 

Jarrod Emick, who plays everyone's favorite bad boy Jigger Craigin, sang the National Anthem at the April 14 Cubs game. 

 

Denyce Graves and Matthew Hydzik visited WGN Radio's Andrea Darlas for an in-depth conversation about preparing for Carousel. Tony Roberts also stopped by WGN Radio to talk with Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano.

Michigan Ave magazine interviewed and photographed the cast of Carousel.

CS magazine interviewed Steven Pasquale about his dream role of Billy Bigelow. 

The Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones interviewed director Rob Ashford about the show and speculated on whether it is Broadway bound. Carousel stars Steven Pasquale and Laura Osnes also recorded a special version of "The Bench Scene" for the Tribune's Theater Loop Showcase video series

Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times talked with Ashford and stars Steven Pasquale and Laura Osnes.

Tony Roberts also reflected on his career and talked about his upcoming memoir in this profile in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Photo credits:
  • Steven Pasquale in CS magazine
  • Jarrod Emick performs at Wrigley Field
  • Laura Osnes, Jenn Gambatese, and Steven Pasquale in Michigan Ave
  • Jenn Gambatese and Matthew Hydzik on Chicago Tonight
 

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