Established in 1954, the Lyric Opera Orchestra made its debut that year, first with Lyric's "calling card" performances of Mozart's Don Giovanni and then later with the company's official opening, Bellini's Norma. Both productions were conducted by Nicola Rescigno, one of the company's co-founders.
The orchestra has since performed an extraordinarily diverse repertoire under many of the world's most distinguished conductors, including Sir Andrew Davis, who has been Lyric Opera's music director since the 2000/01 season.
Over the course of its remarkable history the orchestra has also collaborated with such conductors as Bruno Bartoletti (longtime Lyric artistic director, currently artistic director emeritus), Tullio Serafin, Artur Rodzinski, Sir Georg Solti, Kiril Kondrashin, Ferdinand Leitner, Christoph von Dohnányi, Zubin Mehta, Sir John Pritchard, Sir Mark Elder, James Conlon, Riccardo Chailly, Antonio Pappano, Michael Tilson Thomas, Harry Bicket, and Donald Runnicles.
Among the orchestra's most acclaimed performances have been Wagner's Ring cycle under Mehta (1996) and Davis (2005), as well as performances in the past decade of repertoire as varied as Handel's Ariodante, Mozart's Idomeneo, Berlioz's Les Troyens, Verdi's Otello, Wagner's Tannhäuser and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Mussorgksky's Boris Godunov, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Massenet's Cendrillon, Dvořák's Rusalka, Strauss's Elektra, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and Weinberg's The Passenger.