2015 Financial Statement

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An open letter from David T. Ormesher, President and CEO

Dear All,

Lyric’s 2014/15 season was truly remarkable. Under the artistic leadership of general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric’s 60th anniversary season produced extraordinary artistry met with unprecedented critical and audience acclaim. Our work to engage existing audiences more deeply and to broaden the demographic of our reach continues to expand. 

The force that guides the board, the management, and the entire company is our collective dedication to embracing the priorities laid out in Lyric’s strategic plan. It is paramount to Lyric’s success that we function in a fiscally responsible manner that maximizes our ability to create and produce great art, to present an unparalleled experience for our audiences, and to provide a real and measurable cultural service to the communities we serve.

This year saw the Lyric family through transitions and triumphs, tempered with great sorrow at the death of then President and CEO Kenneth G. Pigott. We celebrated great fundraising success with the 60th Anniversary Concert and Gala and Wine Auction 2015 and embarked on an acceleration of new activities and the commissioning of new works. As we review the past fiscal year, it is vital to retain our commitment to expanding Lyric’s activity level as we look to the company’s mission and future. 

We safeguard our legacy but do not dismiss the opportunities of our current environment. The future holds tremendous possibility for those open to embracing it. We see that promise in making operatic masterworks relevant to current audiences, supporting the vision of Anthony Freud and his team, and the nurturing of new talent. You see all of those elements in the Lyric of today and tomorrow.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a long standing member of the Lyric family and to now serve as President and CEO, following the legacy of Ken. I’m thankful to our artistic leadership; our dedicated staff; the stellar musicians of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus; our generous donors and volunteers; and our five outstanding volunteer boards. Every day, they demonstrate how Lyric Opera of Chicago strives to become THE great North American Opera Company for the 21st Century.

With sincere thanks,

David T. Ormesher
President and CEO

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An open letter from Anthony Freud, Lyric’s General Director

Dear All,

New productions are the lifeblood of all great opera companies, and in recent years, Lyric subscribers have been asking for more of them. We opened our 60th anniversary season with a brand new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, to great critical and popular acclaim. The intensity remained high throughout the season with diverse repertoire, outstanding musical and theatrical qualities, and an outstanding array of Lyric Unlimited activities.

Our goal is to give audiences thrilling, life-enhancing, thought-provoking performances at the highest international level. Once again, Lyric has gone beyond the excellent to present the great. It is the unique resources of Lyric that make it possible for us to achieve greatness.

Music director Sir Andrew Davis is at the core of Lyric as its musical heart and compass. In our 60th anniversary season his virtuosity was once again on display as he led brilliant performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Strauss’s Capriccio, Wagner’s Tannhäuser, and Weinberg’s The Passenger and was at the helm for our glittering 60th anniversary concert and season opening performance at Millennium Park.

The season also saw fantastic presentations of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Donezetti’s Anna Bolena, Puccini’s Tosca, and the third in Lyric’s American Musical Initiative series focusing on Rodgers and Hammerstein, Carousel.

It is particularly exciting – and gratifying to note that more than half of the Carousel ticket buyers were experiencing and appreciating Lyric for the very first time.  The number of subscribers grew modestly responding to great performances, an appealing repertoire, and ongoing new and creative work to reach, sustain, and grow that audience.

Lyric Unlimited, one of the most dynamic and innovative facets of the company had its most ambitious season to date, with two world premiere commissions (El Pasado Nunca Se Termina and The Property) and a brand-new family presentation (The Magic Victrola), plus an ambitious slate of activities that gave resonance and context to our main stage productions while creating true community and partnership outside the walls of the Opera House. Over the course of the season, more than 126,000 area residents participated in a Lyric Unlimited program or event.

The season also brought incredible special event celebrations that helped Lyric surpass its annual fundraising goal, Wine Auction 2015 and the 60th Anniversary Concert and Gala. The latter also featured the unveiling of the Pritzker Family Concert Shell, designed by Jeanne Gang/Studio Gang Architects.

If the season was not remarkable enough, 2014/15 was also highlighted by the renewal of Renée Fleming’s contract as Lyric’s extraordinary Creative Consultant. We are so thrilled by her passion and thoughtful leadership on collaborations and initiatives, grateful for her on-stage artistry and her tireless creative drive.

Moving forward, Lyric’s goals are clear – to achieve continued excellence and relevance, in a fiscally responsible manner – all in support of the development of our great art form.

I thank everyone – our audience, our contributors, our staff and five volunteer boards for your ongoing support and boundless enthusiasm for Lyric.

Long Live Passion,

Anthony Freud
General Director

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Treasurer’s Report

Dear All,

As part of Lyric’s strategic plan, we as an organization are dedicated to our core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility. Ongoing financial sustainability is, of course, essential to Lyric’s future. All of us are grateful to our donors, our volunteers, our boards, our staffs, our artists, and our audiences. They not only sustain our work but continue to keep us focused on maintaining Lyric’s position as one of the crown jewels of Chicago cultural life and as one of the most respected and distinguished opera companies in the world.

A summary of our 2015 fiscal year financial position and activities follows, along with the fully audited and complete financial report. Some of the top line financial statistics are:

Operating revenues of $74.8 million marked an increase of 5% percent over fiscal year 2014 and reflected fundraising results that surpassed our annual goal, with an increase in contributed support of 20% to $37.2 million. Opera subscription sales showed a modest increase and total ticket sales remained consistent with the previous season. Operating expenses increased from $71.4 million to $74.8 million. 

In fiscal 2015, our net assets increased from $224.7 million to $232.5 million. This increase is significant as these assets provide the foundation for Lyric’s ongoing artistic excellence, audience development and engagement initiatives. The increase in net assets is the result of the ongoing success of our Breaking New Ground Fundraising campaign. Launched in 2012, the campaign is intended to raise funds to implement our blueprint for a world-class, 21st century opera company. As of June 30, 2015, Breaking New Ground had raised more than $96 million dollars.

It is my honor and pleasure to serve as treasurer for an organization dedicated to artistic excellence and maintaining secure financial foundation while serving the audience of today. I am grateful to all who help provide the financial oversight so essential to ensuring a vibrant future for Lyric Opera of Chicago.


Paul Carbone

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 Operating Revenues  $74,797  $71,360
 Earned Income  $29,665  $32,614
 Contributed Support  $37,161  $30,996
 Investment Income Designated for Current Use  $7,971  $7,750
 Operating Expenses  $74,797  $71,360
 Endowment & Other Long-term Investments  $181,164  $183,755
 Total Assets  $330,212  $321,864
 Bonds Payable  $65,700  $65,700
 Net Assets  $232,458  $224,712
 Number of Mainstage Opera Tickets Sold  199,273  200,505
 Lyric Unlimited Participants  126,000  111,725
 Number of Opera Performances  69  67

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View Lyric Opera of Chicago's full FY15 financial statement.