Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Inside the Youth Opera Council with Adina Harris

Lyric Unlimited's Youth Opera Council had a second great season. Officially launched with the 2013/14 season, the Youth Opera Council is a group of 22 high school-aged opera lovers who are dedicated to spreading the word about this fantastic art form. Here's an insider's perspective on the council from member Adina Harris, who talks about the "wild ride of opera."


Adina Harris (second from left) poses with Youth Opera Council members and soprano Ana María Martínez (second from right) at Millennium Park in September 2014

Lyric Unlimited's Youth Opera Council had a second great season. Officially launched with the 2013/14 season, the Youth Opera Council is a group of 20 high school-aged opera lovers who are dedicated to spreading the word about this fantastic art form. Among their many activities, they have weekly meetings, have conversations with Lyric staff and guest artists, and have the opportunity to attend every mainstage production. They even plan special events like A Night at the Opera so their friends can experience Lyric.  

Here's an insider's perspective on the council from member Adina Harris, who talks about the "wild ride of opera."

Journey to Youth Opera Council

I first heard about the Youth Opera Council when my choir director posted a flyer in his room. The past year I was involved in a program at the Goodman Theatre that I really enjoyed. I met a group of extremely interesting people, learned how to be a theater critic, and saw all of the plays for the season for free. Reading the description and application requirements, I thought, "This would be a cool thing to do this year!" My choir director noticed my interest and also added that it was a really great program and I had a good chance of getting accepted. With those words of encouragement ringing in my head, I went home that same day and submitted my application. I soon received an e-mail accepting my application and requesting an interview. After an amazing interview with Alejandra Boyer, the coordinator of the Youth Opera Council, I found myself on the Youth Opera Council for the 2014/15 season!

First Meeting

Now that I was a part of the YOC, the next step was of course the meetings. Every Wednesday from 5:30-7pm, perfect time and date! My mom dropped me off in front of the entrance and as I pushed through the revolving doors, several questions plagued my mind. What was it going to be like? Would I meet any fun people on the council? What will they be like? Can I keep up with all these opera lovers? I walked down the hallway of the 8th floor, turned and entered through an open doorway. So far, the only face I recognized was Alejandra, and with her welcoming smile, I sat down in between two of my fellow council mates. The chattering ended as Alejandra called us to order and began the agenda. "Let's go around the table and say our name, grade, school, and your favorite musical/theater moment of the past two weeks." As we went around the table, I heard musical/theater moments that confirmed one thing in my mind. This council might be made up of members from all walks of life, but one thing definitely united us: our love for the theater and opera.  

 
Photos from Youth Opera Council events: A Night at the Opera reception before Don Giovanni (left) and chalk drawing to promote Porgy and Bess (right). 

Wild Ride of Opera

Throughout the season, the Youth Opera Council was able to do some amazing things and I'm so happy I was a part of it. Everything from planning our Night at the Opera events for our classmates, chalk drawings, and special talk sessions with opera stars and important members of Lyric's staff made me realize how many different levels are involved in running an opera company and getting opera out to the masses.

 
An in-depth look at A Night at the Opera, created and edited by Youth Opera Council member Lauren Craig

One talk really stands out in my memory and that's when director Matthew Ozawa came to speak to the council. From the moment he stepped in with his bright smile and black framed glasses, I determined that Matthew Ozawa was my spirit animal. He told us about his performing arts company, Mozawa, and how its goal is "to break down the barriers that exist between differing artistic media and cultures." I realized that Lyric is trying to do the same thing, and I'm so happy that Matthew works with them because they both clearly have the same goal. Lyric Opera and Ozawa both want to show the world that opera is not just a stuffy art form for one generation, but an art form that should be admired by all for its technique and mastery.   

 
(clockwise from top left) Adina and Youth Opera Council members met with Lyric General Director Anthony Freud, soprano Amanda Majeski and mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, and Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming. 

About Adina

Hello! My name is Adina Harris and I am a senior at Providence St. Mel. I will be going to Iowa State University in the fall to major in Animal Sciences. I love volunteering at my local animal shelter and participating in theater programs that expose me to all manners of theater.

Want to Learn More?

Here's a look back at the Youth Opera Council's inaugural 2013/14 season:

 

Photo credits:

  • Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park photo credit Robert Kusel
  • A Night at the Opera photo credit Jaclyn Simpson
  • Adina Harris photo courtesy Adina Harris
Subjects:

Audiences are crazy for CAROUSEL

You've read the great reviews. You've seen our fabulous stars on TV. Now hear directly from Carousel  fans just like you why this amazing new production is the theater event of the season. Don't delay and see this show before it closes on May 3.

You've read the great reviews. You've seen our fabulous stars on TV. Now hear directly from Carousel  fans just like you why this amazing new production is the theater event of the season. Don't delay - the show must close May 3!

 

And if that's not enough, here's just a sampling of some of the social media chatter. Carousel is lighting up the Twitterverse and beyond, especially from some die-hard fans that want to see this great production come to Broadway. Plus, don't forget to check out our online collection of Stage Door Selfies, a look at our fabulous stars posing with some of their biggest fans after each performance. 

 

 

 

Photo Credits:

  • Carousel at Lyric Opera of Chicago photos credit Todd Rosenberg

 

CAROUSEL is the talk of Chicago!

If the rave reviews weren't enough, the acclaimed cast and creative team of Carousel are making their way around Chicago, whether it's on TV or at a Cubs game. Don't miss your chance to see this amazing production. This Carousel must move on May 3!

If the rave reviews weren't enough, the acclaimed cast and creative team of Carousel are making their way around Chicago, whether it's on TV or at a Cubs game. Don't miss your chance to see this amazing production. This Carousel must move on May 3!

The entire cast and director/choreographer Rob Ashford were interviewed on WCIU's "You and Me This Morning" about starting the rehearsal process:

;

Jenn Gambatese, who plays the irrepressible Carrie Pipperidge, performed “Mr. Snow” on ABC 7’s  Windy City Live and gave away some tickets to lucky audience members:

ABC 7's Janet Davies interviewed the incomparable Charlotte d'Amboise and Tony Roberts about their illustrious careers and current roles in Carousel:

Mr. and Mrs. Snow—Jenn Gambatese and Matthew Hydzik—went on  WTTW's Chicago Tonight  to talk with host Phil Ponce about the show and performed "When the Children Are Asleep."

 

Matthew also performed another one of Enoch's signature songs, "In a Manner of Speaking," his ode to his plans for a big sardine factory…and a big family:

 

Jarrod Emick, who plays everyone's favorite bad boy Jigger Craigin, sang the National Anthem at the April 14 Cubs game. 

 

Denyce Graves and Matthew Hydzik visited WGN Radio's Andrea Darlas for an in-depth conversation about preparing for Carousel. Tony Roberts also stopped by WGN Radio to talk with Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano.

Michigan Ave magazine interviewed and photographed the cast of Carousel.

CS magazine interviewed Steven Pasquale about his dream role of Billy Bigelow. 

The Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones interviewed director Rob Ashford about the show and speculated on whether it is Broadway bound. Carousel stars Steven Pasquale and Laura Osnes also recorded a special version of "The Bench Scene" for the Tribune's Theater Loop Showcase video series

Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times talked with Ashford and stars Steven Pasquale and Laura Osnes.

Tony Roberts also reflected on his career and talked about his upcoming memoir in this profile in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Photo credits:
  • Steven Pasquale in CS magazine
  • Jarrod Emick performs at Wrigley Field
  • Laura Osnes, Jenn Gambatese, and Steven Pasquale in Michigan Ave
  • Jenn Gambatese and Matthew Hydzik on Chicago Tonight
 

Critics can’t get enough of CAROUSEL

Lyric's new production of Carousel is one of the most celebrated productions of the year. It's the toast of Chicago…and could it be the toast of New York? Hear what the critics have to say about this stunning production that's worthy of Broadway. Don't miss your chance to take a ride on this Carousel before it closes on May 3. 

Lyric's new production of Carousel  is one of the most celebrated productions of the year. It's the toast of Chicago…and could it be the toast of New York? Hear what the critics have to say about this stunning production that's worthy of Broadway. Don't miss your chance to take a ride on this Carousel before it closes on May 3. 

 

★★★★ - Chicago Tribune

"A chance to hear this cherished score delivered with such ample vocal and musical resources should not be missed by anyone who remains entranced by the unique appeal of the great Broadway musicals." - The New York Times

"profoundly moving" - Chicago Tribune

"by far the best of the opera company's annual spring forays into the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein canon." - Chicago Tribune

"Musically and visually, Lyric's Carousel is an unabashed pleasure…"
- Time Out Chicago

"This really is a gorgeous new production....Aside from the huge vocal performances by the likes of Laura Osnes, Steven Pasquale, and Denyce Graves, what really impresses here is the richness of the storytelling, and more important yet, the depth of the emotional connection between Julie Jordan and her no-good louse of a husband, Billy Bigelow. This is a world-class Carousel, spinning right here in Chicago." -  CBS 2

"director/choreographer Rob Ashford's seductive, unsentimental yet darkly compelling production...comes about as close to perfect as it gets." - Daily Herald

"...it’s a familiar tale of love, loss and forgiveness that has found its way into our hearts and Lyric’s production only affixes it further." - Make It Better

"… in bold and creative ways, this 'Carousel' … reaches literally for the stars and frequently attains them, bringing innovate ideas and the personnel to implement them to a production that is huge, audaciously daring, and bracingly human. And yes, one that is immediately legendary." - Broadway World

"under Rob Ashford's sublime direction, Lyric Opera of Chicago's production is a Carousel for the ages. " - Huffington Post

Praise for "the grandeur of the massive sets, the spectacle of the dances... and the sheer power of a cast of five dozen insanely talented folks walking an expansive stage, telling a timeless tale while singing songs loved by generations of Americans." - Broadway World

"[Ashford's] vision offers a grandly majestic, operatic sweep overflowing with wonderful characters and inventive, athletic choreography." - Chicago Theatre Review

"Come to the 'Carousel.' You need to get your ticket punched, to catch a ride on your very own life, and to do so in the most unforgettable way you can imagine. And you'll never walk alone." - Broadway World

"Lyric's Carousel is beautiful and heart melting" - Chicago Parent

"stunning and breathtaking from start to finish" - Around the Town Chicago

Carousel is "as near perfect as possible" - Chicago Critic

"Lyric Opera of Chicago is on a roll with its scintillating new production of the iconic 1945 musical 'Carousel.'" - Lake County Journal

The dream cast

"Stacked with Broadway stars and cast with uncommon consistency and shrewdness, Ashford's production appears directed with Broadway in mind and, well, New York should be so lucky." - Chicago Tribune

"The results are impressive: The production is as beautifully sung — and beautifully played, by the Lyric orchestra under the conductor David Chase — as anything on Broadway right now" - The New York Times

"Steven Pasquale and Laura Osnes are delivering career-defining star turns as doomed lovers Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan.…The pairing…already feels like a legendary Broadway coupling. Now someone just needs to actually get them on Broadway. Soon, please." - Broadway.com 

Steven Pasquale "brings the first act to an electrifying climax with his powerful rendering of 'Soliloquy'" - The New York Times

Steven Pasquale "has it all going on" - Chicago Tribune

"Pasquale brings a Brando-esque quality to Billy" - Chicago Sun-Times

"Pasquale's take on Billy's eight-minute solo 'Soliloquy' is downright transcendent"
- Time Out Chicago

Steven Pasquale gives "a breathtaking turn as a handsome young punk you want to root for in spite of yourself" - Chicago on the Aisle

"Laura Osnes is a superb Julie—at once tough and fragile, independent and vulnerable." - Chicago Reader

Laura Osnes "offers a very striking window into Julie's determination to separate from her peers, manifest vocally through the exciting crescendo she constructs for such famous lyrics as 'Round in circles I'd go,' where the resilience in the musical swell undermines the lyrical expression of doubt" - Chicago Tribune

"Osnes' delicacy, vulnerability and spine are lovely throughout"
 - Chicago Sun-Times

"Osnes…gives us a Julie Jordan that is fragile and wounded even as she's independent." - Talkin' Broadway

Jenn Gambatese "who made a playful Maria in Lyric's Sound of Music last spring, is an effusive delight as Julie's love-drunk friend Carrie Pipperidge"
- Time Out Chicago

Matthew Hydzik's "soaring voice and determined spirit are spot-on"
 - Chicago Sun-Times 

Denyce Graves is "spectacular" - Chicago Tribune

Jarrod Emick "makes bad-boy Jigger Craigin another one of his characterizations that is both a dynamite singer and an imposing physical presence."
 - Broadway World

Charlotte d'Amboise is "an extraordinary dancer and actor whose every move's a marvel" - Chicago on the Aisle 

Tony Roberts gives "an avuncular but unsentimental turn as the Starkeeper" - Chicago Tribune

The breathtaking ballet 

"Ashford's staging of the Act II ballet is an assured thrill" - Time Out Chicago

"Among the production's most glorious scenes is the second act ballet"
- Chicago Sun-Times

"Ashford's choreography here is suffused with deep emotional intensity, and Simon dances so beautifully, the quality of her acting in the crucial final encounter with her father is a bonus, but a crucial one all the same." - Chicago Tribune

"Ashford's version is more like a fever dream for Billy, who walks through its action and can't quite believe the horrors that appear before him. …what a creative way to conceive of the entire sequence!" - Broadway World

Ashford "has intensified the role of ballet in the show...drama, song, orchestral music, dance, and design are fused into a total theater experience." - Chicago Reader

"How wonderful that Director Rob Ashford choreographed all-new pieces for Lyric Opera's new production of Carousel. And better yet that the dancers—Abigail Simon as Louise, Martin Harvey as her Carnival Boy partner, Charlotte D'Amboise as the nightmare image of Mrs. Mullin—and the entire dance ensemble gave flawless performances." - Chicago-Splash.com 

The transcendent music 

"With its magnificent revival of 'Carousel,' Lyric Opera of Chicago has accomplished what few other theaters ever will, which is to showcase the grand and glorious score by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein with a full complement of strings, woodwinds and brass most theatergoers are unlikely to hear outside an opera house or symphony hall." - Daily Herald

"it is wonderful to hear Rodgers's rich score delivered by an opera-company chorus and orchestra under David Chase's baton." - Chicago Reader

"[U]nder David Chase's assured baton, the Lyric's orchestra mines all the magic in this lilting score. " - Huffington Post

"The music is divine" - Around the Town Chicago

"This Carousel employs a lush 37-piece orchestra and a raft of ensemble singers, rendering Rodgers's rich score with exquisite care" - Time Out Chicago

The stunning visuals 

"[The] hypnotic production design by Paolo Ventura elevates the dreamlike and otherworldly aspects of this heartbreaking love story." - Huffington Post

"the design from the Italian artist Paolo Ventura … is strikingly lean, dominated by miniaturized vistas that feel more picayune European than puritan New England, and suggesting, as profoundly and existentially as any of the scores of productions of this work I've seen, the transitory nature of any happiness you can find at a traveling carnival in the company of one who barks for a living." - Chicago Tribune

"The set by Paolo Ventura is amazingly real with the opening number's actual carousel appearing as if it was transported from a museum to the stage on Wacker Drive." - Around the Town Chicago

"Another risk for Ashford that pays off is the contribution of Paolo Ventura, an artist and photographer making his theatrical debut as set designer. His settings have a water-color feel reminiscent of some of Edward Hopper's work."
- Talkin' Broadway 

"Tony Award-winning costume and lighting designers Catherine Zuber and Neil Austin work with a variety of silhouettes and colors to highlight and deepen the visual attention." - Broadway World

Don't wait - Carousel will be gone in less than three weeks! 
This limited-engagement musical runs only through May 3. BUY YOUR TICKETS today!

 

Photo credits:

  • Carousel production photos credit Todd Rosenberg and Robert Kusel for Lyric Opera of Chicago
 

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