“Rising Stars in Concert” to close spectacular 2008-09 season - Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago “Rising Stars in Concert” to close spectacular 2008-09 season

Monday, Mar. 30, 2009

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago “Rising Stars in Concert” to close spectacular 2008-09 season on Saturday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.

Ensemble members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago will conclude an extraordinarily successful year of study and performance with the end-of-season Rising Stars in Concert for Lyric Opera donors Saturday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ardis Krainik Theatre of the Civic Opera House.

Tickets for this concert are a benefit available only to Lyric Opera donors of $50 and above. It is not open to the public.

Andriana Chuchman, Angela Mannino and Amber Wagner (sopranos), Kathryn Leemhuis and Katherine Lerner (mezzo-sopranos), Edward Mout (tenor), Daniel Billings and Corey Crider (baritones), and Paul Corona, Sam Handley and Craig Irvin (bass-baritones) will perform selections from operas by Donizetti, Gounod, Mozart, Offenbach, Rossini, Richard Strauss, Verdi, and others. There will be projected English translations for all the selections performed. The singers will be accompanied by
members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Philip Morehead.

Tenor David Portillo, also a member of the 2008-09 ensemble, will not perform in the April 4 concert, as he is in rehearsals for the double bill Gianni Schicchi / L’enfant et les sortilèges at Opera Company of Philadelphia.

The performance is dedicated to the memory of 2008-09 ensemble member tenor Ryan Smith.

Rising Stars in Concert is generously sponsored by Donna Van Eekeren, Lead Sponsor, and The Lester S. Abelson Foundation, Accenture, Accretive Health, The Boeing Company, Harris Bank, Miriam U. Hoover, and the Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation, with additional support from Mr. and Mrs. Allan Drebin, Bill and Orli Staley, and Molex Incorporated.

Philip Morehead made his Lyric Opera of Chicago conducting debut with Amistad (1997-98), and has also led performances of Die Fledermaus, La traviata, The Cunning Little Vixen, and Carmen. Last summer he conducted Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Lyrique-en-Mer Festival on Belle Ile, France.
Currently head of music staff for Lyric Opera and the Ryan Opera Center, his previous positions with the
company have included music administrator and chorus master. As pianist and accompanist, Morehead has performed in the U. S., Canada, and Italy, specializing in contemporary repertoire. He is cofounder of the CUBE Contemporary Music Ensemble, for which he is conductor and keyboardist.

Several 2008-09 Ryan Opera Center ensemble members sang critically acclaimed principal and supporting roles during Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 54th season, which ended March 28. These included:

  •  Manon: Andriana Chuchman (Poussette), Angela Mannino (Maid), Kathryn Leemhuis
    (Javotte), Katherine Lerner (Rosette), Edward Mout (1st Guard), David Portillo (2nd Guard), Paul Corona (Archer), Sam Handley (Innkeeper), Craig Irvin (Sergeant)
  • Lulu: Angela Mannino (15-year-old girl), Kathryn Leemhuis (Lady Artisan), Katherine
    (Mother), Corey Crider (Journalist), Paul Corona (Servant), Craig Irvin (Professor of
  • Porgy and Bess: Daniel Billings (Lawyer Frazier)
  • Madama Butterfly: Amber Wagner (Kate Pinkerton), Daniel Billings (The Official Registrar),
    Corey Crider (Prince Yamadori), Paul Corona (The Bonze), Sam Handley (The Imperial
    Commissioner, Jan. 21), Craig Irvin (The Imperial Commissioner)
  • Tristan und Isolde: Edward Mout (Shepherd), David Portillo (Sailor), Daniel Billings (Melot), Paul Corona (Steersman)
  • Cavalleria rusticana: Katherine Lerner (Lola)
  • The Abduction from the Seraglio: Angela Mannino (Blonde, March 2 & 10)
  • Pagliacci/student matinees: Edward Mout (Beppe), Daniel Billings (Silvio)

Ensemble members also served as understudies for major and minor roles throughout the season.

Of the 13 singers in the 2008-09 ensemble, ten will return to the program for 2009-10 after a brief hiatus: sopranos Andriana Chuchman, Angela Mannino, and Amber Wagner, mezzo-sopranos Kathryn Leemhuis and Katherine Lerner, tenor David Portillo, baritone Corey Crider, and bass-baritones Paul Corona, Sam Handley, and Craig Irvin. Three new ensemble members will join them: soprano Amanda Majeski, tenor René Barbera, and baritone Paul La Rosa.

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago (previously known as the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists) was established in 1974 as the professional artist development program for Lyric Opera of Chicago. Since its inception, the Ryan Opera Center has been recognized as one of the premier programs of its kind in the world. That standing is maintained by providing the finest up-and-coming singers with unparalleled training and experience. Gianna Rolandi is
director of the Ryan Opera Center, and Dan Novak is manager.

Selected from some 400 singers who audition annually, the Ryan Opera Center ensemble members are in residence for twelve months. Over the course of the year they receive advanced instruction in numerous aspects of operatic performance, including voice lessons and coachings, language and acting training, and master classes with some of opera’s most renowned artists, including Joyce DiDonato, Nathan Gunn,Marilyn Horne, Frank Lopardo, Renata Scotto, Deborah Voigt, and several others.
Ryan Opera Center members gain valuable performing experience by participating in recitals and concerts at many Chicago-area venues. During Lyric Opera’s mainstage season, they perform and understudy roles at all levels. This presents an extraordinary opportunity to work with the world’s greatest opera singers, conductors, directors, orchestra, and chorus.

A testament to the Ryan Opera Center’s caliber and success is the roster of distinguished alumni who
perform regularly on the stages of leading international opera houses. It includes Harolyn Blackwell,
Nicole Cabell, David Cangelosi, Mark S. Doss, Jennifer Dudley, Christopher Feigum, Elizabeth Futral,
Roger Honeywell, Joseph Kaiser, Maria Kanyova, Gregory Kunde, Dina Kuznetsova, Cynthia Lawrence, Gary Lehman, Emily Magee, Marlin Miller, Susanna Phillips, Matthew Polenzani, Patricia Risley, Erin Wall, and Guang Yang.

On Sunday, April 19, The Metropolitan Opera’s documentary, The Audition, will be screened nationally. Featured in the film are Ryan Opera Center ensemble members Amber Wagner and the late Ryan Smith.