Lyric Opera of Chicago's Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Announces Singers Selected for the 2023/24 Ensemble

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)

The National Auditions are sponsored by

Official airline of Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is supported by

About Lyric

About Lyric

Lyric Opera of Chicago is committed to redefining what it means to experience great opera. The company is driven to deliver consistently excellent artistry through innovative, relevant, celebratory programming that engages and energizes new and traditional audiences.

Under the leadership of General Director, President & CEO Anthony Freud, Music Director Enrique Mazzola, and Special Project Advisor Renée Fleming, Lyric is dedicated to reflecting, and drawing strength from, the diversity of Chicago. Lyric offers, through innovation, collaboration, and evolving learning opportunities, ever-more exciting, accessible, and thought-provoking audience and community experiences. We also stand committed to training the artists of the future, through The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center; and to becoming increasingly diverse across our audiences, staff, programming, and artists—magnifying the welcoming pull of our art form, our company, and our city.

Through the timeless power of voice, the splendor of a great orchestra and chorus, theater, dance, design, and truly magnificent stagecraft, Lyric is devoted to immersing audiences in worlds both familiar and unexpected, creating shared experiences that resonate long after the curtain comes down.

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About the Ryan Opera Center

About the Ryan Opera Center

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is Lyric's preeminent artist-development program that nurtures the talents of some of the most promising operatic artists of each generation. The program's Ensemble members earn their coveted spot by successfully auditioning among more than 500 artists worldwide. Its alumni are among the dominant names in opera today. Donor generosity ensures continued unparalleled training, performance experience, and professional readiness of Ensemble members. This highly competitive program, established in 1974, is honored to enjoy the support of acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming as Advisor at Large, along with full-time staff Director Dan Novak, Music Director Craig Terry, and Director of Vocal Studies Julia Faulkner.