OPERATHON RAISES record-breaking $476,513 - Lyric Opera of Chicago

OPERATHON RAISES record-breaking $476,513

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Monday, October 18, 2010

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s
RAISES record-breaking $ 476,513!!
All proceeds support Lyric Opera’s education and
community-engagement programs
OPERATHON 2010 is a project of the Lyric Opera Chapters  

Lyric’s overall fundraising goal for 2010-11 is $17.1 million


OPERATHON 2010, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s annual live-radio marathon fundraiser on 98.7WFMT, celebrated its 31st anniversary by raising a record-breaking $476,513 during its 16-hour broadcast on Saturday, October 16, greatly exceeding the $400,000 goal.

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

“The success of this event is integral to achieving our 2010-11 annual fundraising goal of $17.1 million,” Mason 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.”

PERATHON 2010, cosponsored by Lyric’s official airline, American Airlines (23rd consecutive year) and William Blair & Company (second year), went on the air at 8:00 a.m. and concluded at midnight last Saturday, 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.

OPERATHON 2010 was staffed by more than 125 members of the Lyric Opera Chapters. Steve Robinson, executive vice president and general manager of 98.7WFMT and The WFMT Radio Network, orchestrated activities behind the scenes.

OPERATHON 2010 greatly exceeded its $400,000 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, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Marjan, Allan and Elaine Muchin, Julie and Roger Baskes, and Sir Andrew Davis and Gianna Rolandi; donations, purchases, and pledges from the general public; and corporate merchandise sponsorships.  

Pledges were phoned in from Lyric supporters near and far. More than 200 donated gift items, dining opportunities, travel opportunities, and autographed opera memorabilia, plus exclusive merchandise items created for Lyric, were offered during OPERATHON 2010, and are still available from Lyric’s OperaShop online 24/7.

Flights to New York, London, Los Angeles, and Brussels were auctioned on the air, courtesy of American Airlines.

All proceeds of OPERATHON 2010 support Lyric Opera of Chicago’s education and community-engagement programs, which serve more than 135,000 children, adults, and seniors in the Chicago area each year. 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.

Numerous stars of this season’s Lyric productions appeared in the opera-house studio throughout the broadcast: Macbeth’s Thomas Hampson, Nadja Michael, Leonardo Capalbo, and Carter Scott; A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s David Daniels, Anna Christy, Erin Wall, Wilbur Pauley, and conductor Rory Macdonald; plus stage directors Barbara Gaines/Macbeth, Renata Scotto/A Masked Ball, and Gary Griffin/The Mikado. Carmen’s stars appeared in the studio after the Saturday-night performance: Katharine Goeldner, Yonghoon Lee, Elaine Alvarez, and Kyle Ketelsen, along with conductor Alain Altinoglu.

Calls of support also came in from Deborah Voigt/The Girl of the Golden West and  Sondra Radvanovsky/A Masked Ball, as well as from stage director Peter Sellars/Hercules and Lyric’s own music director and traveling conductor Sir Andrew Davis.

General director William Mason appeared on the air several times throughout the day and night. Also heard were Ryan Opera Center director Gianna Rolandi, chorus master Donald Nally, properties master Tom Gilbert, and several administrative staff members.

“Everyone at WFMT is proud to partner with Lyric Opera for OPERATHON and is thrilled with the success of this year’s broadcast,” Robinson said. “We are pleased to offer our airwaves in support of Lyric Opera and are delighted that the 31st annual OPERATHON was such a hit. That this year’s broadcast set a new OPERATHON fundraising record made it that much more rewarding and exciting.”

For the second year, Lyric used social media outlets Facebook and Twitter to track OPERATHON’s progress and post photos of on-air guests. 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.

For the first time OPERATHON included contests, such as the OPERATHON Opera Quiz, during which listeners answered questions that had been solicited from Lyric’s Facebook friends in advance.

For more than a decade, OPERATHON has held the national record for one-day radio fundraising by an arts organization, raising more than $8 million cumulatively since its inception.

OPERATHON 2010 was organized and administered by the Chapters’ Executive Board of Lyric Opera and the 18 Chapters in Illinois and Wisconsin. Virginia Jach (Southwest Chapter) and Dorothy Kuechl (Northwest Chapter) served as the co-chairs of OPERATHON 2010. Kate Letarte (Riverside Chapter) is president of the Chapters’ Executive Board of Lyric Opera, which organizes and administers Lyric’s OPERATHON each year.

WFMT’s engineers for the 16-hour broadcast were Don Mueller and Joshua Sauvageau.

Generous sponsors of merchandise for OPERATHON 2010 were Bank of America, Fellowes, Inc., and Sidley Austin LLP. The Season Poster featured in the OPERATHON catalog is generously sponsored by Classic Color and Thirst.