Lyric Opera of Chicago

OPERATHON 2011 Raises record-breaking $500,000

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Monday, October 17, 2011

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s
RAISES record-breaking

All proceeds support Lyric Opera’s education and
community-engagement programs  

OPERATHON 2011 is a project of the Lyric Opera Chapters

Lyric’s overall fundraising goal for 2011-12 is $20.6 million

OPERATHON 2011, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s annual live-radio marathon fundraiser on 98.7WFMT, celebrated its 32nd anniversary by raising a record-breaking $500,000 during its 16-hour broadcast on Saturday, October 15, greatly exceeding the $425,000 goal.

All proceeds support Lyric Opera’s education and community-engagement programs, which serve more than 135,000 children, adults, and seniors in the Chicago area each year. These include Opera in the Neighborhoods, Opera in the Classroom, OperaKids, the Discovery Series, Community and Pre-Opera Lectures, Senior Matinee and Student Matinee performances at the Civic Opera House, the Teen Opera Circle and College Opera Circle programs, NExT Discount Student Tickets, Student Backstage Tours, and Teachers’ Professional Development Workshops.

“We are deeply grateful to our friends at WFMT for making OPERATHON possible for more than three decades,” said Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director. “It is an outstanding collaboration.

“The success of this event is integral to achieving our 2011-12 annual fundraising goal of $20.6 million,” Freud continued. “We are extremely grateful to all of our generous supporters who made pledges at all levels, and we deeply appreciate the hard work of the legions of volunteers and Lyric staff members who answered phones and assisted in many other ways behind the scenes. We are very proud of the support shown by the entire extended Lyric Opera family for our outstanding education and community engagement programs.”

In an impressive Operathon debut, Freud was in the temporary radio studio for virtually the entire 16-hour marathon fundraiser, and was on the air for much of that time.

OPERATHON 2011, cosponsored by Lyric’s official airline, American Airlines (24th consecutive year), and Bank of America, went on the air at 8:00 a.m. and concluded at midnight, broadcasting from Lyric’s administrative offices in the Civic Opera House.

The 16-hour event was anchored by 98.7WFMT’s Carolyn Paulin, George Preston, Peter Whorf, and Dennis Moore; and Lyric’s dramaturg Roger Pines, who also selected all the musical selections heard throughout the day and night. Steve Robinson, executive vice president and general manager of 98.7WFMT and The WFMT Radio Network, orchestrated activities behind the scenes. WFMT’s engineers for the 16-hour broadcast were Don Mueller and Joshua Sauvageau.

OPERATHON 2011 greatly exceeded its $425,000 goal thanks to numerous challenge grants offered by individuals, foundations, corporations, various Lyric Opera Chapters; exceptional participation by the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation and the Lyric Opera of Chicago Overture Society, Richard P. and Susan Kiphart, Dr. and Mrs. Tapas Das Gupta, Crain-Maling Foundation, Deutsche Bank, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Marjan, Allan and Elaine Muchin, Julie and Roger Baskes, Sir Andrew Davis and Gianna Rolandi, Anthony Freud, and an Anonymous Donor; donations, purchases, and pledges from our listeners. Generous sponsors of merchandise for OPERATHON 2011 were Fellowes, Inc., and Sidley Austin LLP. The Season Poster featured in the OPERATHON catalog is generously sponsored by Classic Color and Thirst.  

Flights to New York, Beijing, San Francisco, and London were auctioned on the air, courtesy of American Airlines.

Numerous on-air guests and hosts credited their own early exposure to opera through education and community-engagement programs (including Lyric’s own Student Matinees) for sparking the interest that led to their professional involvement in the field.

Lyric’s new general director, Anthony Freud, made his Operathon debut. Several Lyric stars made on-air appearances throughout the fundraiser in person or by phone, including Renée Fleming, Lyric’s Creative Consultant and Operathon catalog “cover girl”; Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director; The Tales of Hoffmann stars Matthew Polenzani, James Morris, and Anna Christy; Lucia di Lammermoor star Giuseppe Filianoti and conductor Massimo Zanetti; title-role stars Amber Wagner/Ariadne auf Naxos and Sondra Radvanovsky/Aida; and Show Boat director Francesca Zambello.

For the third year, Lyric used social media outlets Facebook and Twitter to track OPERATHON’s progress and post photos of on-air guests. Lyric staff tweeted all day and encouraged others to do so with #OPERATHON and conducted a few opera quizzes.

 (To view photos from Saturday’s radio fundraiser as well as from the opening nights of every opera this season, become a Facebook friend of Lyric Opera of Chicago.)

OPERATHON 2011 was hosted by Lyric Opera and its 15 Chapters. Dorothy Kuechl (Northwest Chapter) and Peggy Beata (Near North Chapter) served as the co-chairs.