Lyric Opera of Chicago's
The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center
Announces Artists Selected for the 2020/21 Ensemble
Final Auditions were held Sunday, September 15


CHICAGO (9/16/2019) – Dan Novak, director of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the professional artist development program at Lyric Opera of Chicago, is pleased to announce that sopranos Maria Novella Malfatti and Denis Vélez; mezzo-sopranos Katherine Beck and Katherine DeYoung; and baritones Leroy Davis and Pawel Trojak have been accepted into this prestigious program for its 2020/21 Ensemble.

These singers will join current Ryan Opera Center soprano Mathilda Edge; mezzo-soprano Kathleen Felty; bass-baritone David Weigel; and bass Anthony Reed, all of whom will return for another year in the world-renowned program.

A new pianist has also been selected for the 2020/21 Ensemble, Chris Reynolds.

Each year, the Ryan Opera Center holds preliminary auditions around the country; a small group of gifted emerging artists, mostly from the postgraduate level, are selected from approximately 400 applicants worldwide and invited to final-round auditions in Chicago each September. This year’s Final Auditions were held on Sunday, September 15, in the Ardis Krainik Theatre of the Lyric Opera House. For the seventh year in a row, the Final Auditions were attended by an invited audience of some 1,500 Lyric subscribers and donors, who also participated by voting for the Audience Favorite award. The award and $500 cash prize went to soprano Maria Novella Malfatti.

Lyric’s dramaturg Roger Pines served as master of ceremonies for the Final Auditions. The audience was also treated to a performance by soprano Laura Wilde, a Ryan Opera Center alumna (2013-2016) who performed at the Santa Fe Opera this summer and will return to Lyric for the Ring cycle in 2020. Lyric’s general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, music director designate Enrique Mazzola, and vice president, artistic planning Andreas Melinat joined Novak, along with Ryan Opera Center music director Craig Terry and director of vocal studies Julia Faulkner, in serving as judges for the day.

The 2020/21 Ensemble members will begin their training next spring and will spend the summer studying – voice lessons; language, acting, and movement classes; and instruction from guest artists - in addition to performing in various concerts and recitals. During the 2020/21 Season, they will participate in Lyric’s mainstage productions, performing and understudying a variety of roles, as well as additional Ryan Opera Center concerts and recitals.

Current Ryan Opera Center members who will depart after the 2019/20 season are soprano Emily Pogorelc; mezzo-soprano Kayleigh Decker; contralto Lauren Decker; tenors Mario Rojas and Eric Ferring; baritones Christopher Kenney and Ricardo José Rivera; and pianist Madeline Slettedahl.

From: Lisa Middleton, Vice President, Marketing & Communications

About Lyric

Lyric Opera of Chicago's mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.

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