Lyric Opera of Chicago

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And the National Medal of Arts goes to...

... Renée Fleming "for her contributions to American music. Known to many as 'the people’s diva,' Ms. Fleming has captivated audiences around the world with an adventurous repertoire spanning opera and the classical tradition to jazz and contemporary pop." 

Reneeflemingmedal

...Renée Fleming "for her contributions to American music. Known to many as 'the people’s diva,' Ms. Fleming has captivated audiences around the world with an adventurous repertoire spanning opera and the classical tradition to jazz and contemporary pop," announced the White House this afternoon, when President Barack Obama honored Lyric's creative consultant with a National Medal of Arts citation in the East Room. First Lady Michelle Obama also attended.

The National Medal of Arts is the United States Government's highest award to artists and arts patrons. Ms. Fleming was nominated by the American public and ratified by the National Council of the Arts.

Eleven others, including filmmaker George Lucas, musician Allen Toussaint, playwright Tony Kushner, and painter Ellsworth Kelly, were awarded the 2012 citation. A further twelve, including author Joan Didion and poet Kay Ryan, were awarded the sister citation of National Humanities Medal in this afternoon's ceremony, which you can watch in full below. (Renée is honored at 14:09.)

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Celeb sightings at Lyric

Chicken & waffles, sea salt & chocolate, pineapple & pizzacelebrity chef and author Art Smith understands that some pairings are too intriguing to pass up. That's why opening weekend of The Guide saw the Table Fifty-Two chef enjoying the fruit of Lyric Opera and The Second City's creative collaboration. 

Book of Mormon cast backstage

Chicken & waffles, sea salt & chocolate, pineapple & pizza—celebrity chef and author Art Smith understands that some pairings are too intriguing to pass up. That's why opening weekend of The Second City Guide to the Opera  saw the Table Fifty-Two chef onstage at the Civic Opera House, enjoying the fruit of Lyric Opera and The Second City's creative collaboration. 

Other arts celebrities who attended opening weekend include:

• Renée Fleming, renowned diva and Lyric creative consultant, who conceived the partnership at a The Second City revue, when, by chance, a sketch featured one of her recordings.

Zarin Mehta, president and executive director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and former Ravinia president and CEO

Ashley Wheater, artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet

Cast members of The Book of Mormon, Broadway in Chicago's smash-hit at Bank of America Theatre

With cabaret-style seating and full table service onstage in the Ardis Krainik Theatre, every guest at The Guide feels like a celeb.

Pictured above: The Second City Guide to the Opera performer and writer Tim Sniffen (in red) keeps The Book of Mormon actors (l-r:) Ben Platt, Nic Rouleau, and Chris Shyer laughing backstage. (Photo: Magda Krance)

Funding doubled for CPS Arts Education Plan

The City of Chicago insured the future of the CPS Arts Education Plan on May 17, 2013, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that $500,000 in rollover donations from the NATO Summit would be allocated to the plan, bringing its total 2013 budget to $1 million.

Chicago Arts Plan

In October 2012, soprano Renée Fleming, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and dancer Damian Woetzel joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel at Manuel Perez Elementary in Pilsen, where he announced the first Chicago Public Schools Arts Education Plan, a cornerstone of the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012.

As outlined in a press release from the Office of the Mayor, specifics of the plan include:

• Dedicated weekly arts instructional time: 120 minutes/week for elementary school students and increased arts credit options for high-school students;

• Significant increases in professional development and training for teachers, principals and arts partners;  

• Increased community partnerships for schools, tapping the resources of Chicago's cultural institutions and community organizations; and  

• Increased funding assistance and strategies to ensure arts instruction in every school, including diversifying the types of arts offerings in schools and increasing dedicated supplies and resources.

The City of Chicago insured the future of the CPS Arts Education Plan on May 17, 2013, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that $500,000 in rollover donations from the NATO Summit would be allocated to the plan, bringing its total 2013 budget to $1 million.

Ingenuity Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to improving arts education in the Chicago Public Schools, collaborated with the Office of the Mayor on the CPS Arts Education Plan. In his announcement of the $1 million investment, Paul Sznewajs, executive director of Ingenuity Inc., extended "a special thank you to Yo-Yo Ma and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Renée Fleming and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Josephine Lee and the Chicago Children's Choir for their efforts to make this happen."

Pictured: (l-r:) Damian Woetzel, Renée Fleming, and Yo-Yo Ma at Manuel Perez Elementary for the announcement of the first Chicago Public Schools Arts Education Plan. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Divas and Gentlemen

Great divas Anna Netrebko, Albina Shagimuratova, and Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming join general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and president and CEO Kenneth G. Pigott for a Lyric family photo shoot.

This week, the stars aligned at Lyric when three stratospheric sopranos graced Lyric's stage on three consecutive evenings:

Renée Fleming as Blanche DuBois in André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire on March 26.

Albina Shagimuratova as Gilda in Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto on March 27.

Anna Netrebko as Mimì in Giacomo Puccini's La bohème on March 28. 

              Diva shoot

(l-r:) Anthony Freud, Sir Andrew Davis, Anna Netrebko, Kenneth G. Pigott, and Renée Fleming. Todd Rosenberg Photography.

Anna and Albina graciously joined Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming, general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and president and CEO Kenneth G. Pigott for a Lyric family photo shoot.  

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