Lyric Opera of Chicago

Renée Fleming to participate in Career Day

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Friday, March 9, 2012

Renée Fleming to participate in first-ever Career Day
organized by Lyric Opera of Chicago for Merit School of Music
on Saturday, March 17

World-renowned soprano and Lyric’s creative consultant
will engage students with master class, Q&A, and backstage tour

 Part of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Renée Fleming Initiative

Lyric Opera of Chicago will hold its first-ever Career Day for Merit School of Music students on Saturday, March 17, with events taking place at both organizations. Fresh from a national concert tour, Lyric’s creative consultant Renée Fleming will participate in one of the centerpiece events of Lyric’s Renée Fleming Initiative – speaking with students and providing an in-person master class as a follow-up to earlier sessions held via Skype.

As Fleming stated last September when the Lyric Opera-Merit School of Music collaboration was first announced, “I am particularly excited about what will happen on Saturday, March 17! Lyric’s Education Department will provide special backstage tours for Merit’s entire tuition-free conservatory, as part of a career day in which Lyric personnel – including me and several others – will speak with the students about the many facets of this wonderful art form, from working behind the scenes to performing onstage.”

Mark Riggleman, Lyric’s director of education, notes that “the Lyric Opera-Merit School of Music Career Day will help participating students to develop an understanding of the many careers in a professional opera company, and to begin to think about their own career paths and where they might fit in to the world of the arts.”

About 350 students at the community-based music school, mostly those enrolled in Merit’s advanced program, the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory, will attend the March 17 Career Day events, Riggleman says. Between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m., students will convene in Merit’s Anne & Howard Gottlieb Hall to hear a group of Lyric staff members give a general overview of the numerous careers at Lyric.  Participants in the panel discussion, moderated by Ashley Winston, include

  • Anthony Freud - General Director
  • Susan Mathieson Mayer - Director of Communications
  • Chris Jabin - Director of Institutional Giving
  • Brent Fisher – Controller
  • Charlie Reilly – Property Master
  • Matthew Ozawa – Assistant Stage Director
  • Sarah Hatten – Wigmaster and Makeup Designer
  • Caroline Moores – Production Stage Manager

The interview-format panel discussion will be followed by 15 minutes of Q&A and 15 minutes of informal conversation among panelists and students.

Between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on March 17, Merit students will attend specially scheduled backstage tours at Lyric, shuttling from Merit’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center (a 40,000-sq.-foot state-of-the-art facility in the West Loop) to the Civic Opera House and back throughout the day. The students will see several areas of the opera house that are not normally accessible, including the  backstage scenery handling area, wig and makeup department, costume department, armory, and more. Fleming will be on hand to interact with the students for some of the tours.

Between 3:00 and 3:45 p.m. Fleming is scheduled to give a private master class with a few of Merit’s Solo Voice Major students, with whom she has worked previously via Skype. The career day will conclude with Fleming speaking to the full tuition-free conservatory student body in Gottlieb Hall about her career, including a Q&A session, between 3:45 and 4:15 p.m.

“We are excited to offer our students this exclusive opportunity to learn more about arts careers and opera firsthand from the best in the industry,” said Tom Bracy, executive director at Merit School of Music. “We value our partnership with Lyric Opera that continues to grow and significantly impact our students.”

The Lyric Opera of Chicago-Merit School of Music joint venture is sponsored by James Reynolds, Jr./Loop Capital Markets.

The Renée Fleming Initiative comprises several important projects designed to increase opera audiences and awareness of the art form, while sharing the company’s artistic vision. It is sponsored by an Anonymous Donor, Mr. and Mrs. John V. Crowe, The Crown Family, Mr. and Mrs. J. Thomas Hurvis, Richard P. and Susan Kiphart, John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan, and Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance. (For more information about the Renée Fleming Initiative, go to http://www.lyricopera.org/about/renee-fleming-creative-consultant.aspx )

Merit School of Music’s Solo Voice Program is generously supported by the Hurvis Charitable Foundation.

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