World-renowned American soprano Renée Fleming became Lyric Opera’s first-ever creative consultant in December 2010. At that time she was elected to the Board of Directors as a vice president, and three years later she was named adviser to the Ryan Opera Center. She takes an active leadership role in the development of new programs that increase opera audiences and awareness of the art form while sharing in Lyric’s artistic vision.
Among Fleming’s most significant projects at Lyric have been:
serving as curator of Jimmy López’s Bel Canto, Lyric’s tenth new-opera commission, premiered in 2015;
initiating the relationship between Lyric and The Second City, a collaboration that resulted in two cabaret productions, The Second City Guide to the Opera and Longer! Louder! Wagner!;
spearheading Chicago Voices, a groundbreaking Lyric Unlimited initiative during 2016 and 2017 that engaged audiences through participatory arts experiences and dynamic cross-genre programming. Fleming was artistic director, as well as a featured artist, for the Chicago Voices Gala at the Lyric Opera House on February 4, 2017;
leading the creation of the virtual For the Love of Lyric concert (September 12, 2020), a central event in Lyric’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout her tenure, Fleming has been instrumental in expanding Lyric’s education and community-engagement activities. In addition to Chicago Voices, these include a joint program with several key community music organizations: the Vocal Partnership Program, devoted to finding and nurturing young, talented singers in the Chicago area. The program has involved children and young adults at the Merit School of Music, ChiARTS, Gallery 37 Advanced Arts Education Program, and Chicago Academy for the Arts. Fleming champions the expansion of arts education in the Chicago Public School system as National Cultural Ambassador for the Chicago Public Schools Arts Education Plan. In addition, she has actively encouraged further development of Lyric’s young-professionals initiative, which takes opera into the workplace and provides entry-level experiences for the curious adult.