Lyric Opera of Chicago

Ryan Opera Center Recital Series debuts

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
Recital Series debuts on 98.7WFMT this fall

With the generous support of Julie and Roger Baskes, the Ryan Opera Center is launching
an exciting new monthly recital series to be broadcast on 98.7WFMT beginning in October 2012.

Members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago will be featured in a broadcast recital series on radio station 98.7WFMT starting in October. The one-hour broadcasts will be heard the first Monday of the month at 6 pm, with a repeat broadcast the following Sunday at 11 pm.

Each program will be performed by current members of the Ryan Opera Center, with occasional guest appearances by alumni, singing various styles of music from a wide range of composers and eras relating to a central theme. They will be accompanied by Ryan Opera Center pianists Alan Darling, Craig Terry, and Eric Weimer, who put together the repertoire selections in collaboration with the artists and with the program host Colin Ure.

The first two programs will be performed by soprano Emily Birsan, mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges, tenor John Irvin, baritone Will Liverman, and bass Evan Boyer, with pianist Alan Darling. The third program will be performed by bass-baritone David Govertsen and bass Evan Boyer with pianist Eric Weimer.

There will be nine unique recitals, each with a different theme. Following the nine monthly broadcasts, three of the recitals will be rebroadcast in July, August, and September to complete the twelve-month series.

The first three recitals to be aired are:

“Other Americans in Paris”   Mon., Oct. 1, 6 pm Repeat Sun., Oct. 7, 11 pm
“Shakespeare Songs” Mon., Nov. 5, 6 pm  Repeat Sun., Nov. 11, 11 pm
“Don Quixote” Mon, Dec. 3, 6 pm   Repeat Sun., Dec. 9, 11 pm

Details of the remaining six recital programs for Jan. 7, Feb. 4, Mar. 4, Apr. 1, May 6, and June 3 will be announced at a later date. Themes will include “1929,” “World War Two,” and “Voices of Women.”

In addition to the one-hour programs, WFMT will produce 10- to 20-minute features about the artists on each recital, to be aired the week before the one-hour program broadcast. Each feature will consist of edited interviews with the artists along with music from the recital.

“The Ryan Opera Center Recital Series on WFMT is an incredible opportunity for our ensemble members to be heard both locally and internationally via web streaming in a wide variety of repertoire encompassing opera, song, and musical theater,” says Gianna Rolandi, director of the Ryan Opera Center. “Ours is the only professional-development program in the country to provide such a high-profile showcase for its singers, and we’re deeply indebted to Julie and Roger Baskes for making it possible.”  Julie Baskes is president of the Ryan Opera Center Board and is an executive committee member of Lyric’s Board of Directors.

“Producing a series in collaboration with the Ryan Opera Center has been a goal of ours for a long time and we’re thrilled that these programs will soon start airing on WFMT,” says Steve Robinson, WFMT’s general manager.  “The exceptionally gifted young artists of the Ryan Opera Center deserve to be heard by as wide an audience as possible and we’re delighted to be part of helping make that happen. WFMT’s decades-long partnership with Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of our most productive and rewarding. This new series greatly expands and deepens that relationship.”

Recalls Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director, “One of the early conversations I had with Steve Robinson upon my arrival at Lyric was about creating a broadcast recital series for the Ryan Opera Center. We were both tremendously enthusiastic about the idea, and, thanks to the very generous support of Julie and Roger Baskes, it is being brought to fruition, enabling us to share with a worldwide audience the tremendous talent and artistry of our Ryan Opera Center singers.”

Colin Ure, writer and host for The Ryan Opera Center Recital Series, is a freelance dramaturg based in Chicago. The producer of the series is Carolyn Paulin, a program host and producer for 98.7WFMT since 2001.

Each year The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the professional artist-development program of Lyric Opera of Chicago, selects gifted singers from some 400 applicants. Soon after arriving at Lyric in May, incoming Ryan Opera Center members begin an intensive full-year residency under the guidance of Gianna Rolandi and numerous other opera professionals. Coaching sessions and master classes are augmented by performance and understudy experience in productions mounted by Lyric Opera of Chicago, including most of the operas of Lyric’s regular 2012-13 season. (Until September 2006, the program was known as the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists.)

The Ryan Opera Center Recital Series is generously sponsored by Julie and Roger Baskes. The recital series writer and host is Colin Ure. Christopher Willis and Mary Mazurek are music producers, Carolyn Paulin is the producer.