Lyric Opera of Chicago

Summer Vacation for These Returning Ryan Opera Center Alums? Not So Much.

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Amber Wagner in Lyric’s 2011/12 production of Ariadne auf Naxos.

Quinn Kelsey in Lyric’s 2011/12 production of Aida.

Amanda Majeski in Lyric’s 2012/13 production of Die Meistersinger.

Andriana Chuchman in Lyric’s 2009/10 production of The Merry Widow.


Several former members of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center have been making musical waves around the world this spring and summer.  Here’s what a few who’ll be back this season have been up to:

Powerhouse soprano Amber Wagner (ROC 2007-10) takes on two major roles at Lyric, Leonora/Il Trovatore and Elisabeth/Tannhäuser, and will also be featured in the 60th Anniversary Concert. Earlier this summer, she took her talents south of the border to Guadalajara for Richard Strauss’s “Four Last Songs” with the Jalisco Philharmonic. She then hit New York in late June for the Met’s annual Summer Recital Series (in Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park), performing daunting arias and duets with fellow rising stars Jamie Barton and Russell Thomas. The NYT praised Wagner’s “sustained powerful emotion” in the Aida-Amneris duet that opened the concert, and her “powerful and smooth” voice. Later this summer Wagner heads to France for the Verdi Requiem with L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice. As she said in a 2012 Opera News interview, "I don't want to get pigeonholed as a specialist in any one composer's music—I want to sing things that are healthy for my voice, and I want to sing them when I'm ready for them.” Which, clearly, she is. 

Following his triumph as Germont last season at Lyric, baritone Quinn Kelsey (ROC 2003-06) will share the stage with Wagner as Count di Luna/Il Trovatore this fall, and will also perform in the 60th Anniversary Concert. His spring and summer schedule has included portraying Rigoletto at English National Opera, Sancho Panza/Don Quichotte at Canadian National Opera, and reprising his Germont/La Traviata at San Francisco Opera. In August Kelsey returns to the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan for his first Falstaff. The San Francisco Chronicle praises his singing as “capacious and weighty, with effortless power and plenty of vibrant color…he deployed those resources with wondrous agility.” 

Soprano Amanda Majeski (ROC 2009-11) closed last season at Lyric as part of La Clemenza di Tito’s dream cast, and she will close this season starring as Marta, the Auschwitz internee who survived against all odds in Weinberg’s The Passenger. Her spring and summer engagements have included Rusalka (role debut) and Vreli/A Village Romeo and Juliet at Opera Frankfurt, and her first Donna Eliva/Don Giovanni at Opera Philadelphia. Before Majeski returns to Lyric in early 2015 she’ll debut at the Met as the Countess/The Marriage of Figaro

Soprano Andriana Chuchman (ROC 2007-10) made headlines last season stepping in for Anna Netrebko as Adina/The Elixir of Love—on opening night, no less. “She had an assured, sparkling success in her Met debut” and “an irresistibly lively way with words,” the NYT noted approvingly. Chuchman subsequently portrayed Miranda/The Enchanted Island at the Met, and she returns this season as Gretel/Hansel and Gretel. Lyric audiences will remember her charming Yum-Yum/The Mikado (2010-11),Valencienne/The Merry Widow (2009-10) and Poussette/Manon (2008-09), and can look forward to her winsome Zerlina/Don Giovanni  in the 60th anniversary season opener. 

Ryan Opera Center alums are rocking the world’s stages this summer and beyond. Don’t miss these outstanding artists at Lyric this season! 




Photos: Dan Rest, Robert Kusel





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