Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Ryan Opera Center Spotlight: Will Liverman

Baritone and recent Ryan Opera Center alumnus Will Liverman is off to a stellar start in his career. This Juilliard grad just released his first album and he's currently in rehearsals at Opera Philadelphia to create the role of Dizzie Gillespie in the world premiere of Charlie Parker's Yardbird (June 5-14). Read on to hear more about his recording project and his funniest Lyric moment.

Baritone and recent Ryan Opera Center alumnus Will Liverman is off to a stellar start in his career. This Juilliard grad just released his first album and he's currently in rehearsals at Opera Philadelphia to create the role of Dizzie Gillespie in the world premiere of Charlie Parker's Yardbird (June 5-14).

He had a busy 2014-15 season at Lyric: he appeared in the mainstage productions of Capriccio and Porgy and Bess and starred as Papageno in the brand-new children's presentation The Magic Victrola. Liverman also was a featured performer in the Harris Theater for Music and Dance's new "Beyond the Aria" series last season, which was curated by Ryan Opera Center music director Craig Terry. In previous seasons, he appeared in The Barber of Seville, La traviata, and Werther, among others. Read on to hear more about his recording project and his funniest Lyric moment.

Name: Will Liverman
Age: 26
Voice: Baritone
Year in ROC: Alumnus, graduated with the 2014-15 season
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Dream Role: Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca (yes, I know I'm not a tenor!)

When did you start singing? When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

I started singing in choir when I was really young around age 5 or 6. I didn't realize I wanted to really pursue singing until I sang in the supplementary chorus at Lyric Opera when I was in college. The whole experience of being surrounded by amazing talent and getting a chance to perform on a big stage was when I really knew that this was something I wanted.

Did you ever consider a career other than singing? 

If I wasn't singing I probably would've continued to pursue composition and a music education degree.   

What was the most memorable performance you've been in at this point in your career?

Actually the most poignant memory I have was being a part of the chorus in Cavalleria Rusticana at Lyric Opera. We got to the big Easter hymn with Dolora Zajick singing Santuzza and never before had I been overwhelmed with such emotion from just the sheer grandeur of what opera can be.  Being surrounded by the glorious singing of the chorus, the orchestra, Dolora's glorious voice singing over us, the amazing set, looking out to the big hall, and just singing my little heart out was a special moment.  Going back to the previous question, that exact feeling and moment was one that inspired me to pursue this.

What is your most hilarious Ryan Opera Center moment?

There are too many hilarious moments! I guess the funniest would have to be my Ivan persona in Die Fledermaus. It was only a speaking role but it sure was a lot of fun. My character's speaking role is announcing the guests as they arrive to the party and one day just for fun I decided to announce the names as loudly as I possibly could and people thought it was hilarious. So every time after that my goal was to yell the names even louder than I did for the previous show. Sometimes I almost couldn't keep a straight face because of how ridiculous it got by the last performance.

 
Liverman (c) in Die Fledermaus with Emily Fons (l) and Adrian Eröd (r)

Can you tell us a bit about your recently released album?

I just released my very first album entitled Steal Away. It is a collection of spirituals arranged by the very talented composer Shawn Okpebholo. He is a composition professor at Wheaton College, and he heard me sing at an event there and asked if I would be the featured artist on this project. After listening to a few of the spirituals, I was sold. It was so much fun! It was also cool to sing again with fellow Ryan Opera Center alumna J'nai Bridges, who was a featured singer on a few of the spirituals on the album. Overall, it was a great experience and I hope to record something again one day!

Photo credits:

  • Will Liverman portrait credit Devon Cass
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago production photos credit Dan Rest and Todd Rosenberg

 

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Ryan Opera Center Spotlight: Tracy Cantin

Soprano Tracy Cantin just completed her third and final year in the Ryan Opera Center, wrapping up with a stellar 2014-15 season. Read on to hear about some of her most memorable Lyric moments and where this Canadian native finds a taste of home in Chicago.

Soprano Tracy Cantin just completed her third and final year in the Ryan Opera Center, wrapping up with a stellar 2014-15 season. Some of her mainstage appearances at Lyric have included roles in Elektra and Rigoletto in the 2012-13 season, Bertha in The Barber of Seville in 2013-14, and a spectacular mid-performance replacement as the title role in Anna Bolena in January 2015.

Read on to hear about some of her most memorable Lyric moments and where this Canadian native finds a taste of home in Chicago.

Name: Tracy Cantin
Age: 29
Voice: Soprano
Year in ROC: Alumna, graduated at end of 2014-15 season
Hometown: Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Dream Role: Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth

When did you start singing? When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

I started singing at a very early age, and began private voice studies at the age of 11. Music had always been a large part of my life, singing in my high school jazz bands, and various ensembles in my hometown, but it wasn't really until my senior year of high school that I realized I could actually study music in university and actively pursue it as a career. Initially I thought that perhaps I would like to be a music teacher, but I quickly realized that performing is where my heart and soul were drawn, and so I began my journey! 

Did you ever consider a career other than singing? And if you had to imagine an alternative career now, what would it be?

My mom would tell you that I always wanted to be a singer, but to tell you the truth, I wanted to be a hair stylist! An alternate career at this point is almost unimaginable, but I could see myself being a music therapist, or perhaps a speech pathologist—somehow incorporating my love of music into helping others would certainly be a fulfilling alternate career!

What was the most memorable performance you've been in at this point in your career?

Singing on the stage at Lyric is always such an enormous privilege, but I think to date my favorite production was my first: Elektra. What a thrilling experience from beginning to end, from the magnificent cast to the brilliant production and direction, I cannot imagine a better way to have made my professional debut! 

 
Cantin in Elektra (l) and relaxing backstage in costume (r)

What was your experience like stepping in for Sondra Radvanovsky for the last performance of Anna Bolena?

It's quite hard to describe in words to be honest…exhilarating certainly, and somewhat terrifying, but most of all it felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be! I have trained for so many years now, and have come to the end of my apprenticeship with the Ryan Opera Center, and I just felt like my whole life led up to that moment. A great moment! I could not have felt more supported by every single person in the theater that night, whether onstage with me, behind the scenes, or in the audience, and I am so grateful to have had that opportunity. It is a night that I will never forget! 

What are some of your favorite places in Chicago? 

Chicago is such a vibrant city, and I have had a GREAT time exploring it these past few years! I know that there are even more places for me to discover though, and I look forward to having the time this summer to really enjoy this great city. If I really had to choose, Hopleaf  in Andersonville is absolutely my favorite restaurant/bar in town, perhaps because it reminds me a bit of Montreal! Try the CB&J Sandwich. Yum!

Photo credits:

  • Tracy Cantin portrait credit Devon Cass
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago production photos credit Dan Rest and Robert Kusel
  • Elektra backstage photo courtesy Tracy Cantin
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CAROUSEL by the numbers

Lyric's production of Carousel  is one of the grandest spectacles ever to be seen at the Civic Opera House. Here are just a few of the numbers that make all of the onstage splendor possible. Don't miss your opportunity to see a program that the Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones gave a perfect four stars and says "has the smell of Broadway!" Catch this ride before it leaves Chicago on May 3.

Lyric's production of Carousel  is one of the grandest spectacles ever to be seen at the Civic Opera House. Here are just a few of the numbers that make all of the onstage splendor possible. Don't miss your opportunity to see a program that the Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones gave a perfect four stars and says "has the smell of Broadway!" Catch this ride before it leaves Chicago on May 3.

890

Lights in the working carousel that was built especially for this production

600

Fiber optic stars. Both the carousel lights and the stars give this production an otherworldly feel. Celebrated Italian visual artist Paolo Ventura is making his theatrical design debut with Carousel

300

Fake "puff-puff" cigarettes will be used during the entire course of the run. You're most likely to find them in the hands of Billy Bigelow, Mrs. Mullin, and that ne'er-do-well Jigger Craigin!

220

Total costumes in the show, all designed by Tony Award-winner Catherine Zuber. Lyric's wardrobe department has been busy! (To compare, The Sound of Music last season had 130 costumes.)

160

Pairs of shoes. All of those dancers need to hoof in style, fitted with special non-skid soles from Brooks Shoe Repair.

83

Wigs in the show. It takes 40 to 60 hours to create each new wig. Laura Osnes, Jenn Gambatese, Denyce Graves, and Charlotte d'Amboise account for 8 of the wigs—they got two each! And it takes 12 members of Lyric's hair and makeup staff to get everyone ready for each show. 

60

Ensemble members, which may be a Lyric record! This huge cast of singing actors and dancers includes 14 members of the Lyric Opera Chorus. 

37

Musicians in the orchestra, all members (or subs) of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, under the baton of celebrated conductor David Chase.

11

Carousel horses. Five are used on the actual carousel and the other six are in the "dream ballet" sequence, choreographed by the amazing Rob Ashford.

3

Characters in clown makeup.

2

Incredible love stories. Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan are two tornadoes of passion that collide. Carrie Pipperidge and Enoch Snow have a more practical approach, but are no less in love. 

1

Can't-miss experience. Carousel is on stage through May 3!!

 

Photo credits:

  • Carousel production photos credit Robert Kusel and Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Carousel behind-the-scenes photos credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Carousel costume sketches credit Catherine Zuber

 

 

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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