Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Unlimited Presents Three New Commissions and a New Family Presentation in 2015

For immediate release:
Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lyric Unlimited Presents Three New Commissions and a New Family Presentation in 2015

 World-Premiere Klezmer Opera The Property  
Performances in Chicago and Skokie     

World-Premiere Children’s Opera Second Nature  
Performances at Lincoln Park Zoo   

World-Premiere Mariachi Opera El Pasado Nunca Se Termina  
Performances in Pilsen, Waukegan, and Civic Opera House   

Brand-New Family Presentation The Magic Victrola  
Performance at Civic Opera House   


CHICAGO – Anthony Freud, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, today announced details around three new commissions and a brand-new family presentation in 2015: The Property, aklezmer opera by composer Wlad Marhulets and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann; Second Nature, a children’s opera from composer Matthew Aucoin; El Pasado Nunca Se Termina, a mariachi opera by composer Jose “Pepe” Martínez and librettist Leonard Foglia; andThe Magic Victrola, a new family presentation.

“Major opera companies have an imperative to be proactive and dynamic in engaging with the cities in which they are based,” said Freud. “Lyric Unlimited allows Lyric Opera of Chicago to collaborate with the many diverse communities in Chicago, creating an array of activities that provide breadth, depth, and quality of cultural service for our audiences members inside and outside the opera house.”

Cayenne Harris , director of Lyric Unlimited, noted, “One of the most exciting aspects of Lyric Unlimited is presenting new works that connect to a variety of audiences, written about subjects and in musical languages that resonate with people of all ages and backgrounds.” 

“Ever since I began working with Lyric as creative consultant, it’s been a goal to help opera come alive in different parts of the city. It’s rewarding to see that come to fruition through these exciting new projects,” said Lyric Creative Consultant Renée Fleming. “I’ve also been thrilled to introduce young talent like composer Matthew Aucoin to Lyric Unlimited, so that we can cultivate the next generation of creative artists.”   

These four presentations build on Lyric Unlimited’s ongoing community engagement and education activities to create a breadth of programming through which Chicagoans of all ages can connect with Lyric Opera of Chicago in deeper and more relevant ways. In the 2013-14 season, more than 111,000 children, students, and adults participated in Lyric Unlimited activities.

 

The Property  
February and March 2015

Adapted from the acclaimed graphic novel by Rutu Modan, The Property tells the story of Regina Segal and her granddaughter Mica, who travel to modern Warsaw to try to regain family property lost during World War II. As their journey unfolds, Regina is forced to confront painful truths about her past, while Mica realizes their reasons for coming might not be all that they seemed.

As a klezmer opera, The Property will draw on the Eastern European and Jewish references from Modan’s original story. The work is scored for a cast of six singers and an ensemble of seven instrumentalists, and will feature members of Chicago’s Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

The 28-year-old Polish composer (now based in Los Angeles) Wlad Marhulets, winner of the Susan W. Rose Fund Grant, the Peter D. Faith Prize, and five ASCAP Awards (including their prestigious Leonard Bernstein Award), has been commissioned to write the opera. Stephanie Fleischmann, librettist, adapted the novel with Eric Einhorn, who will direct. Like the story itself, Marhulets’s vision for the work will incorporate traditional and modern musical styles—from klezmer to funk—to illustrate that the work exists in two places: memory and modern day.

Marhulets is known for incorporating klezmer influences into his work. His Concerto for Klezmer Clarinet and Orchestra had its world premiere by clarinetist David Krakauer with the Detroit Symphony in December 2009, and he has composed many smaller-scale chamber works that utilize the distinctive klezmer sound.

The Property will be presented in partnership with the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago on Wednesday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, February 26 at 7:30 p.m.; and Friday, February 27 at 1 p.m. It will also be performed at Skokie’s North Shore Center for the Arts on Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5, both at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and will go on sale on July 1 at lyricopera.org/property or 312-827-5600.

The world premiere of The Property is the centerpiece of a series of activities planned around Lyric’s mainstage performances of Mieczys ław Weinberg’s The Passenger in February and March 2015. A recently rediscovered work that explores the devastating consequences of the Holocaust from the perspective of both victim and perpetrator, it had its first complete staging at the Bregenz Festival in 2010 directed by David Pountney. Lyric presents the Chicago premiere of this acclaimed production. Weinberg’s father worked as a violinist and conductor in Yiddish theater, and it was he who provided Mieczysław with practical experience and exposed him to the traditional klezmer and liturgical Jewish music that informed his compositions.

Lyric Unlimited plans to present film screenings, chamber music recitals, symposia, and discussions at venues throughout Chicago in conjunction with the Chicago premiere of The Passenger. More information about these activities will be announced later this year.

 

Second Nature  
August 2015

Lyric Unlimited has commissioned a children’s opera, Second Nature , from young American composer and conductor Matthew Aucoin. Second Nature is set in the not-so-distant future, when the environment has deteriorated and humans have decided it’s safer to live in zoo-like habitats that protect them from the outside world. Encouraged by the other animal inhabitants, two young children dare to explore the world outside the walls to see if there is still something worth saving.

Geared for children ages 8 to 12, Second Nature will be presented at Chicago’s historic Lincoln Park Zoo, the perfect setting for a story focused on the relationship between humans and nature.  This partnership with Lincoln Park Zoo supports Lyric Unlimited’s mission to collaborate with a wide variety of organizations in the Chicago area and offer opera that explores contemporary themes in unexpected venues.

Matthew Aucoin , the 24-year-old award-winning composer, pianist, poet, and conductor, is both composer and librettist for Second Nature. Among his many projects, he is writing an opera with the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theatre’s commissioning program and is also working on a commission for the American Repertory Theater’s 2014-15 season. He is currently the Solti Conducting Fellow at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has served as an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and Rome Opera.

The world-premiere performances of Second Nature, directed by Matthew Ozawa, will take place on Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 20, 2015, at Café Brauer at Lincoln Park Zoo. Performances will be free and open to the public; times will be announced later. For more information, visit lyricopera.org/secondnature . After the performances at Lincoln Park Zoo, Second Nature will also be presented at schools and community venues around Chicago.

 

El Pasado Nunca Se Termina  
March 2015

Previously announced as part of the 2014-15 season, El Pasado Nunca Se Termina (The Past Is Never Finished) is the second mariachi opera presented by Lyric Unlimited, and the first to have its world premiere in Chicago. This new opera is composed by Jose “Pepe” Martínez with a libretto by Leonard Foglia (who will also direct), the same creative team as for the wildly successful Cruzar la Cara de la Luna. El Pasado begins on a hacienda on the eve of the Mexican Revolution and tells the story of two families—one indigenous and one European—whose lives become deeply entwined. The story spans multiple generations; we meet the modern-day ancestors of the two families, now reconciling their pasts in the context of modern life in the U.S. and Mexico.

Lyric Unlimited is announcing five preview performances of El Pasado that will precede the world premiere at the Civic Opera House in March 2015. Four performances will be held at Benito Juaréz Community Academy in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood on Friday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 14 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m. A single performance will take place at the historic Genesee Theatre in Waukegan on Sunday, March 22
at 2 p.m.  

These performances mark the return to Pilsen and Waukegan, building on the sold-out presentations of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna at these venues in March 2013 and Canciones y Arias at Benito Juaréz in April 2014. To supplement the preview performances of El Pasado, additional community-engagement activities are being planned including lecture-demonstrations at schools, workshops with young mariachi students, and student-matinee performances.

The world-premiere performances are Saturday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 29 at 2 p.m. at the Civic Opera House in downtown Chicago.

Tickets for the Civic Opera House performance are on sale now. The preview performances in Pilsen and Waukegan go on sale July 1. Ticket prices are as follows: Benito Juaréz Community Academy tickets are $10; Genesee Theater tickets are $10 to $25; and Civic Opera House tickets are $25 to $125. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit lyricopera.org/pasado or call 312-827-5600.

 

The Magic Victrola  
January 2015

Previously announced as part of the 2014-15 season, The Magic Victrola is a brand-new presentation created for families with children ages 5-10. Excerpts from famous operas are woven together with an original story by David Kersnar (Lookingglass Theatre Company) and Jacqueline Russell (Chicago Children’s Theatre), performed by members of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center and Lyric Opera Orchestra.

While playing in their grandparents’ attic, two children discover a mysterious trunk filled with costumes, props, opera albums, and a beautiful vintage record player. What happens when they start to listen to the music? Scenes from beloved operas—including Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Bizet’s Carmen—magically come to life! This special concert has a kid-friendly 60-minute running time.

The Magic Victrola will be presented on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 3 p.m. at the Civic Opera House.  It is the third of Lyric Unlimited’s offerings especially for families with young children, following the sold-out presentations of Popcorn and Pasquale in the 2012-13 season and The Family Barber in the 2013-14 season.

Tickets for The Magic Victrola are available now, with tickets for children starting at $10. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit lyricopera.org/victrola or call 312-827-5600.  

 

Lyric Unlimited Ongoing Activities

These new artistic presentations join Lyric Unlimited’s ongoing educational and community engagement activities to provide a wide selection of opportunities for people of all ages to connect with Lyric.

Launched in 2012 as the umbrella for Lyric’s longstanding educational and community programming, Lyric Unlimited aims to provide a relevant cultural service to the Chicago area, including communities for whom opera and opera companies have been largely irrelevant.

 

Here are some select highlights of new Lyric Unlimited programs:

Community Ambassadors

Opera stars and frequent Lyric guest artists Ana María Martínez and Eric Owens were named Lyric Unlimited’s inaugural Community Ambassadors in February 2014. Both artists are uniquely qualified to build connections with children, students, and people of all ages, sharing their experiences as performers and helping to break down barriers to participation in opera. When in Chicago, they will visit a variety of sites—including schools, community centers, hospitals, and cultural institutions—taking part in activities such as speaking engagements, panel discussions, master classes, and more.

Vocal Partnership Program (formerly Merit School Partnership)

An expansion of the Merit School Partnership founded by Creative Consultant Renée Fleming, this 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 mainstage artists. Currently five schools and after-school programs participate: ChiArts, Chicago Academy for the Arts, Gallery 37, Merit School of Music, and the Music Institute of Chicago.

Youth Opera Council

Launched with the 2013-14 season, Lyric Unlimited’s Youth Opera Council is a dynamic group of 22 high-school-aged opera lovers who are passionate about opera and committed to learning more about the art form. Youth Opera Council members meet regularly and have the opportunity to attend every mainstage production. Guest speakers at Youth Opera Council meetings in the 2013-14 season included guest artists Joyce DiDonato, Nathan Gunn, Isabel Leonard, and Alek Shrader; and Lyric staff members including General Director Anthony Freud, Lyric Unlimited Director Cayenne Harris, Public Relations Director Alexandra Day, Barber of Seville Assistant Director Elise Sandell, and Assistant Stage Manager Bill Walters.  

For more information about Lyric Unlimited program offerings, visit lyricopera.org/lyricunlimited .

 

Lyric Unlimited Sponsors

Major catalyst funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was essential to the successful launch and formulation of Lyric Unlimited, and continues to be vital to the program's growth. In 2014-15, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is providing major support for El Pasado Nunca Se Termina.

Lyric Unlimited is supported by a generous leadership grant from the Hurvis Family Foundation.

The Magic Victrola  is supported by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

     

Performance Calendar

Artists, programs, and prices subject to change

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit lyricopera.org or call 312-827-5600

 

The Magic Victrola
lyricopera.org/victrola

With music by Mozart, Bizet, and others

David Kersnar and Jacqueline Russell, writers

Featuring members of the Ryan Opera Center and the Lyric Opera Orchestra

 

 Civic Opera House

20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago

Saturday, January 17, 2015, 3 p.m.

Tickets: $10-$40
           

 

The Property
lyricopera.org/property

Based on the graphic novel by Rutu Modan

Adapted by Eric Einhorn and Stephanie Fleischmann

Wlad Marhulets , composer

Stephanie Fleischmann , librettist

Eric Einhorn , director

Featuring members of Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

 

World-Premiere Performances

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

915 E. 60th St., Chicago

Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 27, 2015, 1 p.m.

Tickets start at $20 (on sale July 1)

 

The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie

Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 5, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets start at $20 (on sale July 1)

 

 

El Pasado Nunca Se Termina
lyricopera.org/pasado

Jose “Pepe”  Martínez , composer
Leonard Foglia, librettist and director

 

Preview Performances

Benito Juárez Community Academy

1450 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago

Friday, March 13, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 14, 2015, 2 p.m.
Saturday, March 14, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 15, 2015, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10 (on sale July 1)

 

Genesee Theatre
203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan

Sunday, March 22, 2015, 2 p.m.

Tickets: $10-$25 (on sale July 1)

 

World-Premiere Performances

Civic Opera House
20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago

Saturday, March 28, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 29, 2015, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $25-$125

 

 

Second Nature

lyricopera.org/secondnature

Matthew Aucoin , composer and librettist

Matthew Ozawa , director

 

World-Premiere Performances

            Café Brauer at Lincoln Park Zoo

            2021 N. Stockton Dr., Chicago

            Wednesday, August 19, 2015

            Thursday, August 20, 2015

            Performances times to be announced.

            Free admission

###