CHICAGO (9/22/2022) — The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the professional artist-development program at Lyric Opera of Chicago, announces the 12 singers who have been selected for its 2023/24 Ensemble at Final Auditions held on September 20 in the Ardis Krainik Theatre. Mezzo-sopranos Lucy Baker and Sophia Maekawa, tenor Travon D. Walker, and bass-baritone Christopher Humbert, Jr., will join eight returning singers of the Ensemble: sopranos Kathryn Henry and Lindsey Reynolds, tenors Ryan Capozzo and Alejandro Luévanos, baritones Laureano Quant and Ian Rucker, and basses Ron Dukes and Wm. Clay Thompson.
Starting last spring, more than 400 singers applied for consideration with video recordings. After a thorough review, selected singers were invited to live preliminary auditions throughout the summer, resulting in invitations to a small group to sing on September 20. The Final Auditions were attended by an invited audience of more than 550 Lyric subscribers and donors, who also participated in voting for the Audience Favorite Award. The award and $500 cash prize went to soprano Shelén Hughes.
Roger Pines served as master of ceremonies for the Final Auditions, and the audience was treated to a performance by soprano Whitney Morrison, a Ryan Opera Center alumna who, to great acclaim, stepped in at the last minute last season as Billie in Lyric’s production of Fire Shut Up in My Bones. The panel of judges drew from Lyric’s leadership, including Anthony Freud, General Director, President & CEO; Music Director Enrique Mazzola; Chief Artistic Administration Officer Matthew Ozawa; Vice President, Artistic Planning Andreas Melinat; Director of Artistic Programs Cory Lippiello; Vice President and Director of the Ryan Opera Center Dan Novak; Ryan Opera Center Music Director Craig Terry; and Ryan Opera Center Director of Vocal Studies Julia Faulkner. The panel also included Lyric’s casting consultant Evamaria Wieser. Piano accompaniment for the Final Auditions was provided by Laurann Gilley, Noah Lindquist, and current Ensemble member Donald Lee III.
The 2023/24 Ensemble singers begin their tenure in Spring 2023 and will receive advanced instruction in numerous aspects of operatic performance, including voice lessons and language coaching, movement and acting training, and master classes with some of opera’s most renowned artists. They will also participate in Lyric’s mainstage season, performing and understudying a variety of roles, in addition to performing at Ryan Opera Center concerts and recitals throughout the Chicago community.
Current Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members who will depart at the conclusion of the 2022/23 season are soprano Denis Vélez, mezzo-soprano Katherine DeYoung, and tenors Martin Luther Clark and Lunga Eric Hallam.
Ryan Opera Center Final Auditions are generously made possible by Lead Sponsor Philip G. Lumpkin. Finalists’ airfares are generously provided by American Airlines, Official Airline of Lyric Opera of Chicago.
2023/24 Ensemble Singers of the Ryan Opera Center
Kathryn Henry (Sheboygan, Wisconsin)
Lindsey Reynolds (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Lucy Baker (Wilmington, North Carolina)
Sophia Maekawa (Kyoto, Japan)
Ryan Capozzo (Huntington, New York)
Alejandro Luévanos (Durango, México)
Travon D. Walker (Hinesville, Georgia)
Laureano Quant (Barranquilla, Colombia)
Ian Rucker (Oshkosh, Wisconsin)
Christopher Humbert, Jr. (Akron, Ohio)
Ron Dukes (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Wm. Clay Thompson (Lexington, Kentucky)