Lyric Opera of Chicago

Get the most out of YOUR opera experience

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get the most out of YOUR opera experience with
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s lectures, special events & benefits!

Lyric’s fabulous 2011-12 season is about to begin! To help audiences make the most of their opera experience, Lyric Opera of Chicago offers an array of lectures, tours, galas, and other special events during its 57th season, September through March.

Please take note of these highlights for your season-preview coverage and/or calendar listings. Photos available on request. Additional information at


Saturday, September 10, at 7:30 p.m.
Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park Concert

Superstar soprano Renée Fleming headlines a star-studded free outdoor concert, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s pre-season gift to the city, which annually attracts audiences upwards of 16,000. French conductor Emmanuel Villaume will lead the Lyric Opera Orchestra and an array of outstanding soloists including stars from the season tenor Matthew Polenzani, bass-baritone James Morris, sopranos Anna Christy and Susanna Phillips, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, and baritone Ljubomir Puškarič – joined by featured artists from Lyric’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. The Matthew Bucksbaum Family Lyric Opera Broadcasts airs this concert live on 98.7WFMT and starting at 7:15 p.m. Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Saturday, October 1: Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for Gala reception; performance at 6:30 p.m.
The Tales of Hoffmann  Opening Night Gala Benefit

Always elegant and exciting, Lyric Opera’s Opening Night Gala has long been considered the crown jewel of Chicago’s social season. This year’s festivities celebrate an extravagant production of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann with opulent décor and atmospheric lighting. Complimentary hors d’oeuvre and sweets before the performance and during intermission. Offenbach’s wildly flamboyant masterpiece The Tales of Hoffmann begins at 6:30 p.m., starring Matthew Polenzani (role debut), James Morris, Anna Christy, Erin Wall, Alyson Cambridge (debut), Emily Fons, Rodell Rosel, David Cangelosi, and Christian Van Horn in a glorious Nicolas Joël production (Teatro Real, Israeli Opera, Teatro Regio de Torino coproduction) staged by Stéphane Roche (debut); and conducted by Emmanuel Villaume.

Opening Night Gala Benefit, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., $79 to $600 (does not include Opera Ball). To purchase tickets for the Opening Night Gala Benefit, go to, or call (312) 827-5600.

The Opera Ball immediately follows the performance at Hilton Chicago’s Grand Ballroom, 720 S. Michigan Ave., $475. Cocktail reception, Grand March presentation of the evening’s artists, seated dinner, and dancing to the Stu Hirsh Orchestra. To purchase tickets for the Opera Ball, please go to, or call (312) 827-5682.

Saturday, October 15, 8 a.m. – midnight

Tune in to 98.7WFMT for Lyric Opera’s 32nd annual live radio fundraiser featuring conversations with Lyric stars and artistic staff on-air, and meet Lyric’s general director, Anthony Freud. Phone in your pledges and make purchases from the wide selection of exclusive Lyric Opera merchandise, autographed items, and gift certificates that are offered via Lyric’s OPERATHON catalog, available in September. All proceeds support Lyric’s education and community-engagement programs for all ages. For more information and to obtain a catalog, call (312) 827-5658.

Friday, January 27, at 6:30 p.m.
Fantasy of the Opera

Celebrate the 28th annual Fantasy of the Opera benefit at the Civic Opera House, organized by the Guild Board of Directors, with exceptional restaurant tasting stations, a seated dinner, silent auction, raffle, cabaret, and dancing! Fantasy is a perfect mid-winter revel and Lyric fundraiser, and one of Chicago’s liveliest black-tie events. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., $500, reservations required.  For more information, call Lyric Opera’s Guild Board office: (312) 827-5656.

Friday, February 10, at 6 p.m.
Wine Auction 2012

This triennial event – a project of Lyric’s Women’s Board – takes place in the Civic Opera House, beginning with a Champagne reception and silent auction, followed by dinner and live auction onstage. The elegant evening inspires spirited bidding in support of Lyric and its world-class productions. This year’s guest of honor is Richard Geoffroy of Dom Pérignon. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Black Tie, $1,500, reservations required and limited. For more information, call (312) 827-5681, or visit

Sunday, February 26 and March 11 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Guild Board Backstage Tours

The backstage at Lyric Opera of Chicago is open to the public just two times this season! Don't miss this chance to see the magic behind the scenes up close and personal! Tour stops include wardrobe department, wig & make-up department, scenery handling facility, armory room, props room, orchestra pit, and mainstage. Tours last approximately two hours. Backstage Tour $35, box lunch available for $12, cash bar. Premier Tour $150 departs at 10:30 a.m.; includes photograph on Lyric Opera's mainstage, parting gift, seated gourmet lunch in an exclusive private dining room with Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director (Feb. 26) or Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director (Mar. 11). Group Tours of 15 or more available at a discounted price. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr. Reservations required. For more information call the Guild Board office: (312) 827-5626.

Saturday, May 12, 2012, at 7:30 p.m.
Lang Lang Recital

The internationally acclaimed Chinese pianist Lang Lang has chosen the Civic Opera House, home to Lyric Opera of Chicago, for his exclusive Chicago-area engagement in the 2011-12 season. Lang Lang’s May 12 solo recital will comprise Bach’s Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, Schubert’s Last Sonata in B-Flat Major, and 12 Chopin études (Op. 25). A video camera positioned above the keyboard will enable concertgoers seated in the theater to view the pianist’s hands throughout the recital on a large screen above the stage.

Regular-priced tickets, $25 to $125; premium tickets $500, including a post-concert reception with the artist; limited onstage seating available, $95 and $125. To purchase tickets, go to, or call (312) 332-2244, ext. 5600.


Roger Pines, Lyric’s dramaturg and broadcast commentator, moderates seven discussion sessions with singers, directors, and conductors from the 2011-12 season. All sessions held at UBS Tower Ballroom, 1 N. Wacker Dr. (directly across from the Civic Opera House), except the Show Boat Symposium, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston. Individual sessions available for $16 each; Symposium tickets $25 each; entire series of eight sessions for $104. Call the Education Department for more information: (312) 827-5912.

Monday, October 3, 6 – 7 p.m.
Discovery Series – The Tales of Hoffmann

Offenbach’s tale of a hapless poet continually thwarted in his pursuit of love is a stunning coupling of flamboyant theatricality and beguiling music. Meet the poet himself – Lyric fave Matthew Polenzani –  and the production’s musical architect, conductor Emmanuel Villaume.

Wednesday, October 12, 6 – 7 p.m.
Discovery Series – Lucia di Lammermoor

Bel canto means beautiful singing, and Lucia is full of it. Join Lyric’s own Lucia, Susanna Phillips, Giuseppe Filianoti (Edgardo), and Maestro Massimo Zanetti in a discussion of Donizetti’s bel canto rendering of madness and murder in 17th-century Scotland. 

Wednesday, November 2, 6 – 7 p.m.
Discovery Series – Boris Godunov

Hands down, it’s the greatest bass role in all of opera, a piercing story of guilt and grandeur by the most nationalistic of all Russian composers. Bass Ferruccio Furlanetto (Boris), stage director Julia Pevzner (Lyric debut), and Lyric music director Sir Andrew Davis offer lively discourse on Mussorgsky’s dark portrait of a tormented ruler and his long-suffering subjects.

Tuesday, November 15, 6 – 7 p.m.
Discovery Series – Ariadne auf Naxos

“Bacchus has some of the most incredible music that’s been written for tenor,” says our Bacchus, Brandon Jovanovich. Come along to the world of Straussian delights with him, Anna Christy (Zerbinetta), and Alice Coote (The Composer) for an exploration of this masterful take on high art and low comedy. 

Tuesday, November 29, 6 – 7 p.m.
Discovery Series – The Magic Flute

Although it’s filled with sublime music, The Magic Flute can be a puzzling array of characters and scenes. Join our all-star panel: Lyric’s own Nicole Cabell (Pamina), Charles Castronovo (Tamino), Stéphane Degout (Papageno), and Sir Andrew Davis to get the what’s what on Mozart’s final opera, a story of love, friendship, and the ideals of the Enlightenment. 

Tuesday, January 17, 6 – 7 p.m.
Discovery Series – Aida

It’s the big one – Verdi’s paean to ancient Egypt, the story of an Ethiopian princess and the Pharaoh’s daughter, both in love with an Egyptian warrior. Be there when Verdi soprano supreme Sondra Radvanovsky (Aida), Sicilian tenor Marcello Giordani (Radames), and the always incendiary mezzo Jill Grove (Amneris) discuss this late-Verdi favorite. 

Wednesday, February 8, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Show Boat Symposium

Along with jazz and baseball, the musical is one of this country’s most significant cultural achievements, and Jerome Kern’s Show Boat is the granddaddy of them all! Show Boat stars Nathan Gunn (Ravenal), Alyson Cambridge (Julie), and Ashley Brown (Magnolia); the production’s director Francesca Zambello; Northwestern University’s David Bell (director of music theater); and Harvey Young (associate professor; theater, performance studies, African-American studies, and radio/television/film) explain the genesis of this seminal American stage work. A not-to-be-missed event.

Thursday, February 23, 6 – 7 p.m.
Discovery Series – Rinaldo

Rinaldo was Handel’s first opera for the London audience, a tale filled with magic, sorcery, and vocal fireworks. Countertenor David Daniels and soprano Elza van den Heever certainly know about vocal fireworks; conductor Harry Bicket and director Francisco Negrin add insights into the music and the staging. An evening that’s sure to delight the most zealous Handelians and Handel newbies too!  


Free 30-minute lectures by opera experts before every performance except Oct. 1. Ardis Krainik Theatre, Civic Opera House. Ticket for that date’s opera performance must be shown for lecture admission. Open seating on main floor. Call the Education Department for more information: (312) 827-5912.

Wednesday, October 5 through Saturday, October 29 at 6:30 p.m.
The Tales of Hoffmann lectures by Jack Zimmerman, Lyric’s subscriber relations manager, before performances Oct. 5, 9*, 12*, 15, 18, 21, 24, 29. *Pre-matinee lectures start at 1 p.m.

Monday, October 10 through Saturday, November 5 at 6:30 p.m.
Lucia di Lammermoor lectures by 98.7WFMT radio host Carl Grapentine before performances Oct. 10, 13*, 16*, 19, 22, 28, Nov. 1, 5. *Pre-matinee lectures start at 1 p.m.

Monday, November 7 through Tuesday, November 29 at 6:30 p.m.
Boris Godunov lectures by music critic Wynne Delacoma before performances Nov. 7, 11, 17*, 20*, 23, 26, 29. *Pre-matinee lectures start at 1 p.m.

Saturday, November 19 through Sunday, December 11 at 6:30 p.m.
Ariadne auf Naxos lectures by Roger Pines, Lyric’s dramaturg, before performances Nov. 19, 22, 28, Dec. 2, 7, 11*. *Pre-matinee lectures start at 1 p.m.

Tuesday, December 6 through Sunday, January 22 at 6:30 p.m.
The Magic Flute lectures by David Buch, visiting professor at The University of Chicago, before performances Dec. 6, 8*, 10, Jan. 4*, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20*, 22*. *Pre-matinee lectures start at 1 p.m.

Saturday, January 21 through Wednesday, February 8; Tuesday, March 6 through Sunday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m.
Aida lectures by 98.7WFMT radio host Carl Grapentine before performances Jan. 21, 25, 28, 31, Feb. 3*, 8*, March 6, 10, 15*, 19, 22, 25*. *Pre-matinee lectures start at 1 p.m.

Sunday, February 12 through Saturday, March 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Show Boat lectures by Nicholas Ivor Martin, Lyric’s director of operations, before performances Feb. 12*, 13, 17, 18, 22, 25, 28, Mar. 1*, 2*, 7*, 9, 17. *Pre-matinee lectures start at 1 p.m.

Wednesday, February 29 through Saturday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Rinaldo lectures by Jesse Gram, Lyric’s audience education manager, before performances Feb. 29, Mar. 4*, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24. *Pre-matinee lectures start at 1 p.m.


Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park concert made possible by Lead Sponsor: Accenture; cosponsors: an Anonymous Donor, Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Rhoda and Henry Frank, and AT&T, with additional funding by the Music Performance and Film Funds.

Opening Night Gala Benefit sponsored by Aon Corporation.

Opera Ball cosponsored by ITW and Northern Trust.

OPERATHON 2011 cosponsored by American Airlines, Official Airline of Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Bank of America.

Fantasy of the Opera 2012 cosponsored by Anonymous (3), Ernst & Young LLP , Richard P. and Susan Kiphart, Mayer Brown LLP, Allan and Elaine Muchin, and the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation.

Wine Auction 2012 made possible by Presenting Sponsor Northern Trust.

Guild Board Backstage Tours sponsored by Robert W. Baird & Company, Inc.

Lang Lang in recital sponsored by Harris Private Bank.

Discovery Series Show Boat Symposium made possible by Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel with additional support from the Katherine A. Abelson Educational Endowment Fund.

Pre-Opera Lectures sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Edward O. Boshell, Jr., Kip Kelley, and James and Michelle Young.