Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Popera!

What happens when opera goes pop? There's a grand tradition of opera stars teaming up with pop stars to create memorable collaborations. Here are a few of our favorite results when musical genres collide.

What happens when opera goes pop? There's a grand tradition of opera stars teaming up with pop stars to create memorable collaborations. Here are a few of our favorite examples (both exciting and unexpected) of when what happens when musical genres collide!

Lyric's creative consultant Renée Fleming is known for her diverse musical interests. Here she is with the late Lou Reed perform "The Perfect Day" in Prague in 2009. The performance was part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution. 

 

And she has also partnered with crooner Josh Groban, performing a medley from Brigadoon.

 

The adventurous Anne Sofie von Otter (starring as Clairon in Strauss's Capriccio  from October 6-28)  is not afraid to expand her musical horizons. She collaborated on an album with Elvis Costello in 2001, and they performed the title track, "For the Stars," on The Late Show with David Letterman.

 

As a native of Sweden, it only seems natural that she would release an album of covers of ABBA songs and others written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Here is her cover of  ABBA's "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room."

 

To celebrate Barcelona being chosen for the 1988 Olympics, pop icon Freddie Mercury and the great soprano (and Barcelona native) Montserrat Caballé teamed up to record a theme song, fittingly titled "Barcelona." They went on to record an entire album together, which would be Mercury's last.

 

Luciano Pavarotti is the king of pop duets. His "Pavarotti and Friends" concerts featured duets with U2, Lou Reed (another "Perfect Day" rendition), Sheryl Crow, and others. Here he is performing "It's a Man's World" with James Brown.

 

And he performed "I Hate You, Then I Love You" with diva Céline Dion.

 

Like Pavarotti, who joined him as one of "The Three Tenors," Plácido Domingo has also achieved a great deal of crossover success. He had a hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Perhaps Love," a duet with John Denver recorded in 1981.

 

And he's performed with his Muppet alter ego Plácido Flamingo on Sesame Street.

 

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

Jane Lynch to Emcee 60th Anniversary Concert

This just in! Illinois native and Second City alum Jane Lynch will be emceeing Lyric's spectacular 60th Anniversary Concert on Saturday, November 1. She has won an Emmy and Golden Globe for her portrayal of the scheming Sue Sylvester on Glee, but she has an amazing array of roles in her repertoire. Here are some of our favorite Jane Lynch gems from throughout her career.

This just in! Illinois native Jane Lynch will be emceeing Lyric's spectacular 60th Anniversary Concert on Saturday, November 1. As she notes in her official bio, Lynch "cut her theatrical teeth at The Second City, Steppenwolf Theatre, and in many church basements all over the greater Chicagoland area, helping her become the comedic talent she is today."

Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming personally invited Lynch to host the concert, after meeting her at the National Christmas Tree lighting in 2013 and they reconnected during Fleming's recent performances of A Streetcar Named Desire in Los Angeles. "As all of America knows by now, she is a comedic genius," said Fleming. "I can't wait to see her dry wit and impeccable timing on the Lyric stage!"

Lynch adds to an already-amazing lineup of stars including Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming, jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, and opera stars Stephanie Blythe, Johan Botha, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Quinn Kelsey, Mariusz Kwiecień, Ana María Martínez, Eric Owens, Sondra Radvanovsky, Samuel Ramey, Marina Rebeka, and Amber Wagner, as well as members of the Ryan Opera Center and The Second City.  Lyric's  Music Director Sir Andrew Davis will lead the Lyric Opera Orchestra.  Plus, world-renowned architect Jeanne Gang is designing a brand-new concert shell that will debut at this one-night-only event. (Read more here.)

Lynch has won an Emmy and Golden Globe for her portrayal of the scheming Sue Sylvester on Glee, but she has an amazing array of roles in her repertoire. Here are some of our favorite Jane Lynch gems from throughout her career:

Annie 

Lynch's singing and acting prowess were showcased on Broadway in 2013 when she played the villainous Miss Hannigan in the revival of this beloved musical.

 

Best in Show 

Lynch's breakout role was this turn as dog trainer Christy Cummings in this Christopher Guest mockumentary. She has great chemistry with her hilarious co-star, Jennifer Coolidge, who played the ditzy dog owner Sherri Ann Cabot.

 

The 40-Year-Old Virgin 

Lynch was the delightfully deranged boss of the titular character, played by Steve Carell, who had more than a passing interest in his dilemma.  

 

Party Down 

Lynch played the sweetly naïve actress Constance Carmell on this regrettably short-lived series.

 

Wreck-It Ralph 

She lent her voice acting talents to this Disney animated film, playing the no-nonsense army commander Calhoun.

 

A Mighty Wind 

Making her mark in yet another Christopher Guest mockumentary, Lynch memorably portrayed Laurie Bohner, a folk singer who has some unique religious beliefs.

 

Role Models 

Lynch's reformed drug addict Gayle Sweeny was the highlight of this film about two men forced to do community service.

 

 Photo credit

  • Jane Lynch (credit Jake Bailey)

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.) 

Merit School of Music Honors Renée Fleming

On May 8, Chicago's prestigious Merit School of Music awarded Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming with the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts as part of the school's 35th anniversary gala celebration at the Palmer House Hilton.

On May 8, Chicago's prestigious Merit School of Music awarded Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming with the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts as part of the school's 35th anniversary gala celebration at the Palmer House Hilton.

Lyric's Board President Kenneth G. Pigott presented Fleming with the award, saying that Lyric is "a new and different organization thanks in major part to Renée Fleming."

Fleming, who was appointed Lyric's creative consultant in December 2010, has worked closely with Merit School of Music almost since the beginning of her tenure. Merit was the first school to partner with Lyric in what has now become the Vocal Partnership Program, offered through Lyric Unlimited. The program provides an avenue for high school students at five partner organizations to learn about opera and develop their skills through access to artistry and expertise from Lyric Opera artists and staff. Participants’ interest and passion for singing is supported and nurtured through special events such as attendance at Lyric Opera performances and rehearsals, backstage tours, recitals at partner schools, and master classes and conversations with main stage artists.

As part of this ongoing collaboration, Fleming has led master classes with students from Merit's Alice F. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory, participated in Lyric's first-ever career day for Merit students, and met with the school's vocal faculty to discuss Lyric's partnership and share pedagogy techniques.  

Fleming's award was the highlight of this gala celebration, which also featured performances from Merit's many music ensembles: brass, opera and musical theater, vocal jazz, conservatory choir, and the honors jazz combo.

Merit School of Music is nationally recognized for providing accessible, high-quality music education to nearly 5,000 Chicago-area students. Merit School of Music is devoted to giving children—especially children living in economically disadvantaged communities—the opportunity to grow through music. To learn more, visit meritmusic.org

Photo credits:

  • Renée Fleming accepts the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts (Credit Jasmin Shah / Merit School of Music)
  • Renée Fleming with Merit students (Credit Jasmin Shah / Merit School of Music)

 

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Renée Fleming and Jonas Kaufmann – A Night to Remember!

Renée Fleming, Lyric's own creative consultant, joined forces with THE tenor of the moment Jonas Kaufmann for their very first duo recital, a historic event that showcased these two magnificent performers at the height of their artistry.

The Civic Opera House was filled with love for the 2014 Subscriber Appreciation Concert, which featured two stars coming together for a one-night-only event.

Renée Fleming, Lyric's own creative consultant, joined forces with THE tenor of the moment Jonas Kaufmann for their very first duo recital, an historic event that showcased these two magnificent performers at the height of their artistry. 

Accompanied by the Lyric Opera Orchestra, superbly led by Lyric Music Director Sir Andrew Davis, Kaufmann and Fleming performed to a sold-out crowd a program that showcased the music of love: duets and arias from Faust, La forza del destino, Manon, Otello, Carmen, and Werther, interspersed with expertly chosen instrumental interludes by Saint-Saëns, Verdi, and Sir Michael Tippett.

In addition to the announced program, the duo delighted the audience with two encores: the Waltz from The Merry Widow and "Marietta's Lied" from Korngold's Die tote Stadt. Fleming's two gorgeous gowns were designed by Vivienne Westwood with jewelry by Ann Ziff for Tamsen Z.

This was a homecoming of sorts for Kaufmann, who made his U.S. debut as Cassio in Lyric's production of Otello to open the 2001-02 season. And playing Desdemona? Fleming, of course!

The next time to see Fleming on stage at Lyric is in Strauss's Capriccio  in October 2014. Subscriptions are available now! Kaufmann's latest album, a recording of Schubert's Winterreise, is due out on April 1.

Photo credits: Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago

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