April 22, 2019

Patron Feature: Claudia Winkler

Claudia Winkler’s journey with Lyric began in November 1973. She was a French teacher at Highland Park High School when a parent of one of her students gave her a ticket to the Carmen dress rehearsal at Lyric. At the time, Claudia had only seen one opera, which she enjoyed, so she decided to attend. She loved Carmen and her experience at the opera house so much that she and a friend decided to share a subscription for the following season! Claudia has been a subscriber ever since and Carmen remains her favorite opera!

Ms. Winkler, a Near North Chapter member and Overture Society member, has always been passionate about financially supporting arts organizations in Chicago, and Lyric is fortunate to be on that list. Her first experience at Lyric in 1974 began a lifelong passion for the art form and the company. By 1995, Claudia further enhanced her engagement with Lyric by becoming a Backstage Tour guide. She began as a tour guide for the Guild Board tours and has continued to volunteer her time to this day. She enjoys taking groups on these special tours because she loves showing guests all the magic that goes into creating an opera. She particularly loves sharing fun facts she’s learned over the years. Ever wondered how wigs are built or how fake blood is made to look so realistic? If the answer is yes, then you should sign up for one her tours! The theater is a magical place, and Claudia enjoys sharing this magic with others. 

Claudia’s passion for Lyric and the operas presented is quite inspirational. She explains “you’ll never see and hear such great music, singing, acting, and dancing, all in one performance.” When asked about her favorite memories at Lyric, three moments stood out. Most recently she was particularly moved by the beautiful music and powerful story of Dead Man Walking, but her favorite performance of all time at Lyric must be the performance of The Passenger with Amanda Majeski. She will never forget watching Ms. Majeski on her knees on the edge of the stage during the final scene of the opera. The opera house was silent for what felt like an eternity before they broke out in thunderous applause. She had never experienced anything like it at the opera before.

Throughout the conversation, Claudia stressed the importance of not only sharing the Lyric experience with the larger community, but investing in the organization so that future generations can enjoy this larger-than-life artform. Thank you, Claudia for your incredible support throughout the years. 

Claudia will be receiving the Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter Outstanding Volunteer Award at the May 1, 2020 Annual Luncheon. This award is presented to an individual for extraordinary leadership or advocacy resulting in significant change for our community. Claudia is a passionate volunteer for Lyric and many other organizations throughout Chicago. Brava Claudia on this well deserved award!

Photo: Ken Howard