Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Lately

The Second City Guide to the Opera wins two Jeff Awards

The Second City Guide to the Opera, the groundbreaking collaboration by Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Second City, wins Jeff Awards for Best Production: Revue and Best Director: Revue!

The Second City Guide to the Opera, the groundbreaking collaboration by Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Second City, won Jeff Awards for Best Production: Revue and Best Director: Revue during the 45th annual Jeff Equity Awards gala on Monday. The ceremony took place at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. “This is the first time Lyric Opera of Chicago has been nominated, and to win this prestigious award is truly thrilling,” said Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director.

The Jeff Awards are billed as “a celebration of excellence in Chicago theatre” and have honored outstanding theater artists annually since 1968. During the 2012-13 season, Jeff Awards judges attended opening nights of 143 Equity productions offered by 52 producing organizations. From these openings, 109 productions were “Jeff Recommended” and eligible for award nominations, resulting in 166 nominations in 36 categories.

The Second City Guide to the Opera premiered in a sold-out, one-night-only performance in the Civic Opera House on January 5, 2013. Lyric Opera creative consultant Renée Fleming had the idea to bring together the world-renowned comedy troupe and opera company, both legendary Chicago institutions, to see what kinds of creative sparks might fly. “This unexpected mash-up of opera and sketch comedy was a great way to show die-hard opera fans – and new audiences – a fun side of our centuries-old art form,” said Fleming.

The resulting revue-style show featured opera-themed comedic sketches performed by ensemble members of The Second City and The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, with Fleming and legendary stage and screen actor Sir Patrick Stewart sharing emcee duties and appearing in sketches and satirical vignettes. Lyric Opera Orchestra musicians and revue music director Jesse Case (music director for The Second City e.t.c.) provided accompaniment. Case, Tim Sniffen, and Kate James wrote the material; The Second City’s Billy Bungeroth directed, and TSC’s Kelly Leonard was executive producer.

The resounding success of the January performance led to a month-long run of cabaret-style performances May 31-June 30, with audience and performers onstage at the Civic Opera House. It was this 23-show run (including new material) that was seen by Jeff-Award judges.

Performers for the extended run were Second City ensemble members Joey Bland*Molly Brennan, Lilli-Anne Brown, Beth Melewski*, Tim Ryder, and Timothy Sniffen*Billy Bungeroth* was director, Jesse Case* was music director and writer, and Kate James* and Timothy Sniffen* were writers. Singers from Lyric were mezzo-soprano Lauren Curnow and tenor Bernard Holcomb*, both former members of the Ryan Opera Center. (*participated in the January show) Musicians for the early-summer shows were Jesse Case/piano and guitar, John Macfarlane/violin, and Laura Deming/cello (both members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra).

The Second City Guide to the Opera is a project of Lyric Unlimited, a multifaceted program of expanded community engagement and artistic initiatives.

All performances of The Second City Guide to the Opera were sponsored by PNC Bank.

For more information on the Jeff Awards, click here.

For more information on Joseph Jefferson III, the 19th-century actor for whom the awards are named, click here.

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)

Critics' guide to THE GUIDE

"The Guide has proven itself to be a superb idea—...in both formats, breaking down barriers....[It's] sure to bring more first-timers to next season’s series of eight major works in Lyric’s 'Operaland' and give much amusement to that world’s present inhabitants. Let’s hope this becomes an annual enterprise with fresh material each year." – Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times

Second City stage

Why are Chicago critics and audiences raving about Jeff Recommended The Second City Guide to the Opera?

The comedy:

 • "[I]mprovisers and actors Joey Bland, Molly Brennan, Lili-Anne Brown, Beth Melewski, Timothy Sniffen and Tim Ryder...send up the tropes of their discipline with precision blackout sketches, traditional Second City-style songs and recurring bits like 'Dr. Opera,' featuring classic characters in therapy." – Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

• "One had the sense that some in the crowd were experiencing the manifestation of their wildest dreams: a chance to laugh, all night long, at a 'Ring Cycle' curtain announcement." – Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune  

The music:

• Ryan Opera Center alumnus "tenor Bernard Holcomb['s]...comedic chops and 'let’s put on a show!' enthusiasm are...infectious. Prominent Ryan alumna mezzo Lauren Curnow has joined the cast, and both singers...have solo musical turns. [T]he musical numbers are...quite touching and in the small setting, even poignant."             – Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times

The onstage seating:

• "...[A] soprano's-eye view from the stage of [the Civic Opera House,] one of Chicago's most essential treasures, illuminated for the occasion. Sketch comedy never looked classier." – Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

The spirit of collaboration and fun: 

• "...[M]asterful in the way it rides the line between catering to Lyric regulars and opera newbies." – Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

• "The Guide has proven itself to be a superb idea...in both formats, breaking down barriers....[It's] sure to bring more first-timers to next season’s series of eight major works in Lyric’s 'Operaland' and give much amusement to that world’s present inhabitants. Let’s hope this becomes an annual enterprise with fresh material each year." – Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times

Summer escapism= Opera-themed comedy at Lyric this June!

A "revue of opera-based sketch comedy, improv and unlikely operatic musical interludes...Two indefatigable cultural landmarks coming together....Lyric and Second City are teaming up once again this summer; this time for an entire month of performances.– Johnny Oleksinski, New City Stage

Second City preview

"Right away I knew something was up at the Civic Opera House on January 5. The lights dimmed and the familiar, soothing British brogue of Lyric Opera principal conductor Sir Andrew Davis boomed its usual, prerecorded message prohibiting the use of cellphones in the Ardis Krainik Theatre. So far, so good. Then Davis announced that a vehicle with the license plate “FLEMING DIVA 1″ was blocking Wacker Drive. Wait, what? No, this was not opening night of La bohème or Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg or even the closing of Don Pasquale; this was The Second City Guide to the Opera, another exciting product of the fledgling Lyric Unlimited program.

"The revue of opera-based sketch comedy, improv and unlikely operatic musical interludes... sure seemed like a one-night event....However, Lyric and its audience found on that night...the special element of...two indefatigable cultural landmarks coming togetherSo, Lyric and Second City are teaming up once again this summer; this time for an entire month of performances.

          – Johnny Oleksinski, Newcity Stage

Classical music critic Wynne Delacoma called the January 5th performance of The Second City Guide to the Opera "a resounding success," and an audience member shared online: "Absolutely outstanding! I have NEVER been to the opera . . . and yet I enjoyed every moment of this extremely creative, hilarious performance. BRAVO!!" 

Escape to Operaland throughout the month of June! Laugh the night away onstage, Thursdays through Sundays in the Ardis Krainik Theatre.

Pictured: Ryan Opera Center mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges and Second City actor Joey Bland in the January 5, 2013 performance of The Second City Guide to the Opera. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Select an image to pin

    << November 2014 >>
    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
                1
    2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    9 10 11 12 13 14 15
    16 17 18 19 20 21 22
    23 24 25 26 27 28 29
    30            

    Subjects

    Tags