Welcome to the Lyric Lately Blog!

Our blog is here to educate and amuse, with enlightening articles, exclusive artist interviews, behind-the-scenes photos, engaging videos, and more. Take a look below to see what's been happening at Lyric Lately!

 


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Spot Maestro Mazzola

In great demand at opera houses and concert halls around the world, you never know where Maestro Enrique Mazzola will be jetting off to next. In 2021, the internationally renowned conductor will make Chicago his home base as he becomes Lyric's new music director. Thanks to a little photoshop magic, he has stepped out of the orchestra pit and into some of his favorite operas. Can you spot him?

Fall Zoom Backgrounds

Leaves are falling, the days are growing shorter, and there is a chill in the air that invites you to curl up with a good book or hide under the covers while watching a scary movie. Whether you have a virtual Halloween party planned with the ghouls or a socially-distanced date night with your boo, we hope you'll treat yourself to one of these Zoom backgrounds from some of our spookiest productions.

Lyric Opera of Chicago announces reimagined season programs

At the core of Lyric’s mission and vision is a commitment to redefining what it means to experience great opera today. Though our stage may be dark through December 31, 2020 due to public health considerations, Lyric is thrilled to present an exciting slate of virtual performance experiences giving you a multitude of ways to continue to make music, opera, and Lyric a part of your life.

Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

A pioneer in the legal fight for women's rights and a historic member of the Supreme Court for 27 years, Ruth Bader Ginsburg left behind an incredible legacy. In honor of her recent passing, we look back at Justice Ginsburg's love for opera and the ways she touched the lives of many, in the arts and beyond.

From "Ryan Opera Center From Home" to "Ryan Opera Center At Work"

As Lyric’s artists and administrators began to work from home in March, Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center Ensemble jumped into gear and launched the “Ryan Opera Center From Home” series. From their homes, Ensemble members captured moving arias and fun classics and the videos were shared on social media and in emails to Lyric’s patrons, lifting spirits and reminding Lyric audiences that the music is far from gone. Now that safety protocols allow for limited in-person collaboration, Lyric is making the shift from “Ryan Opera Center From Home” to “Ryan Opera Center At Work.”

From the Opera House to the writing room: Carson's Lyric Story

Carson Cook loved music and singing from a very young age—he was even a season ticket holder at Lyric as a freshman in high school. Carson’s experiences as a member of Lyric’s Youth Opera Council and as an audience member at Lyric helped solidify his desire for a career in vocal performance, and even inspired him to write an opera libretto at the age of 22.

Lyric Libations: For the Love of Lyric

Whether you're planning a Zoom happy hour with friends, or just looking for a tasty drink to accompany a night of beautiful music, here are some themed cocktails that are sure to have you feeling the Lyric love!

How to watch FOR THE LOVE OF LYRIC as a family

For the Love of Lyric is the perfect concert to introduce a young person in your life to music and theater! To help you, we have created a special, printable family streaming guide for you to use as you watch For the Love of Lyric. With the family streaming guide, your kids can learn more about the performers and their music selections, dive into activities that will test their music knowledge, and play interactive games sure to inspire imagination as they watch For the Love of Lyric

The Ryan Opera Center returns to the airwaves!

One of the most unique opportunities provided to the Ensemble is the Ryan Opera Center’s monthly broadcast recital series with WFMT 98.7, in which Ensemble members record selections for each program, which is then aired and streamed globally. The 2020/21 series is just about to start, enabling audiences around the world to hear from Lyric artists this season.

Week of September 7: Lyric Commentaries for opera streaming and more!

It's "French week" at The Metropolitan Opera. Now is your chance to escape to France as you watch some of your favorite French operas by beloved composers Jules Massenet, Charles Gounod, Georges Bizet, and Hector Berlioz. This week you also have the opportunity to go behind the scenes of Richard Jones's staging of La bohème, presented at Lyric in the 2018/19 Season, with The Royal Opera House's five-part docuseries, Following Pappano.

Finally, don't miss our upcoming virtual concert, For the Love of Lyric, on Sunday, September 13 at 6pm that features acclaimed musical artists Renée Fleming, Heather Headley, Ailyn Pérez, Soloman Howard, J’Nai Bridges, and Julia Bullock, Members of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble, and the Chicago Children's Choir performing your favorite songs from opera, Broadway, and some suprising sources. Doug Peck serves as music director.

The power of opera and how it can change your life

What does it mean for opera to be at its very best? For Doug Peck, it's when sound and sight and feeling fuse into the kind of universal, undivided love and art that Richard Wagner referred to as "Gesamtkunstwerk." Learn more about Peck's personal outlook on opera and why the six-time Jeff Award winner believes the art form has the power to change lives.

Virtual activities for kids!

Inspire musical exploration and creativity with these virtual activities for kids! As the summer begins to cool down and school picks up, we're here to equip our parents and teachers with interactive videos, games, and resources to help keep your students learning and engaged. Whether you're a teacher looking for virtual classroom activities or assistance with remote learning, or you're a parent seeking ideas for a Zoom play date, or ways to inspire creativity in your household, we have just what you need to keep your children focused and entertained! 

Six trailblazing women who made Lyric history

Who runs the world? If Beyoncé is to be believed: "Girls!" That has certainly been the case at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Since the company's earliest years, women have held positions of power on the staff and Boards. Today, that spirit holds true, with the majority of management positions being held by women. Read on to meet a few of the trailblazing women who helped make Lyric what it is today.

Lyric Music & More: August 18

Even in the most uncertain times, we rise every day and start anew. Perhaps it’s human nature, but the draw of routine and ritual can be powerful and comforting when other aspects of life are more tenuous. So it’s no wonder that the familiar tune and everyday working spirit of Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” is such a comfort-watch. We hope someday in the near future we can get back to big, spectacular scenes like this one filled with boisterous crowds and a huge chorus of voices singing to the rafters.

Until then, we continue to bring you the best online content we have to offer. This week, meet our furry friends with Pets of Lyric, find out Jamie Barton’s favorite Chicago meal, watch an in-depth interview with soprano Ailyn Pérez, and enjoy a full solo recital by baritone Will Liverman from Seattle Opera.

Pets of Lyric: Act II

They say dog is man's best friend, but this furry bunch proves that dogs, cats, and even bunnies make wonderful co-workers as well! While Lyric staff members continue to work from home, get to know some of the four-legged sidekicks keeping us company while we have to "sit...stay" in place.

Week of August 17: Lyric Commentaries for opera streaming and more!

Even from the comfort of your own home, you can still be enthralled by the magic of opera. In this edition of opera streaming, you will see productions from Glyndebourne, Opera Australia, Houston Grand Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and Teatro de la Maestranza. With opera streams that span the globe, there's an escape for every music lover.  

The thrill of the new

Discovery. That’s an essential part of what opera is all about.

Much as we love the familiar melodies and stories of our favorite classic operas, there’s a special thrill in hearing and seeing something that’s either new to us or completely new.

Meet our teaching artists!

Teaching artists are professional performance and creative educators who work closely with Lyric’s Learning & Creative Engagement Department to develop and build curriculum for programs in schools and communities. For programs like Lyric’s Opera Residencies, our teaching artists partner with classroom teachers to create custom learning experiences that support music, arts, and academic learning goals. Get to know Heather Aranyi, Megan Elk, Elise LaBarge, and A.J. Wester, and their many talents! 

A new opening to the 2020/21 Season

Put on your ballgown or tux, and roll out your own red carpet for Lyric's new season opener—For the Love of Lyric—a star-studded virtual concert on Sunday, September 13Audiences can look forward to familiar and revelatory selections from the worlds of opera, Broadway, popular music, and more, streamed free of charge on Lyric's YouTube and Facebook.

Lyric Welcomes The Joffrey to the Opera House

Lyric Opera of Chicago announced in 2017 that The Joffrey Ballet would become the resident ballet company at the Lyric Opera House at the start of the 2020/21 Season. While the season isn't starting out quite as planned for either company, we still can’t wait to welcome The Joffrey to Lyric!

Lyric Family Favorites: July 31

We’re still buzzing with excitement over Sunday’s thrilling virtual concert. The passion and musicianship that came through in each of the artists’ incredible performances was palpable, and to see so many fans showing their appreciation in the comments was truly gratifying. In one of many unforgettable moments, baritone and Ryan Opera Center alumnus Will Liverman sang Chicago-based composer Shawn E. Okpebholo’s “Two Black Churches,” which ended with “a shattering climax followed by hushed grief” (Chicago Tribune).

Streaming guide

Get the most out of your streaming experience

On Sunday, July 26, Lyric and The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center are excited to bring you a free virtual concert: Lawrence Brownlee and Friends: The Next Chapter. Keep reading to see how you can get the most out of your streaming experience.

Ryan Opera Center in Conversation: Lunga's Journey

It goes without saying that all of the Ensemble artists in The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center have extraordinary ability. Nowhere is that rigor and greatness more apparent than in the journey of first-year tenor Lunga Eric Hallam, whose five-month journey to move from South Africa to the United States during a global pandemic was nothing short of a miracle—and a true testament of “extraordinary ability.” 

Week 20: Lyric Commentaries for opera streaming and more!

Welcome to another week of opera streaming! For a limited time, you can rewatch the magic of Lyric's incredible July 26 virtual concert, Lawrence Brownlee and Friends: The Next Chapter, which features Ryan Opera Center alumni and current Ensemble members performing works of music selected by the artists themselves.

Also in this week's lineup are productions from Florida Grand Opera, National Polish Opera, The Metropolitan Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and a concert series from Sante Fe Opera. From live concerts to opera classics, there's something for every music lover this week!

How Opera Can Change a Life: Sophia's Lyric Story

Through programs like EmpowerYouth!, Opera Residencies in schools across the city, the Youth Opera Council, community events, Student Backstage Tours, Family Day, and Opera in the Neighborhoods—the possibilities for young people to fall in love with the arts at Lyric and through Lyric programs are endless. Just ask Sophia Peterson.

"Una Voce Poco Fa" - The Barber of Seville

In this scene, Rosina (Marianne Crebassa) has heard a voice serenading her – it was Lindoro, the young man she loves. She anticipates that he will be hers, and then proclaims that, if anyone interferes, she knows 100 tricks to get her way.

 

 

The music behind the movies: Lyric staff picks

While we're already watching a lot of movies in quarantine, why not also enjoy what we're hearing? Lyric's staff picked some of their favorite movies with beautiful or culturally significant soundtracks to add to your watch and listen lists.

Ryan Opera Center From Home: The first week

On May 11, the 2020/21 Ensemble of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center kicked off their first week of work. Hailing from three different continents, the first-year Ensemble members began the fun process of getting to know each other and the Ryan Opera Center staff, albeit virtually. With language classes and voice lessons and coaching via Zoom, they are already hard at work. Read on to hear from the Ensemble's newest additions and join us in welcoming them to the Lyric Family!

Congratulations to the 2019/20 EmpowerYouth! Ensemble

EmpowerYouth!: Igniting Creativity through the Arts—an ongoing partnership between Lyric Opera and the Chicago Urban League that immerses 30 high school students each year in the creation of an original production—entered its third year last fall, without any warning of an impending global pandemic. When the spring of 2020 unfolded, both the EmpowerYouth! program creators and student artists made the choice to finish the program, even if it would look a little different than expected.

Rigoletto - "Caro nome che il mio cor"

In this scene Gilda (Rosa Feola), Rigoletto's naive, virginal daughter, dreamily muses on the name of the man with whom she is in love, unaware that it is a false name and that he is not who he pretends to be.

Don Giovanni - "Don Giovanni! A cenar teco m'invitasti"

The seducer. The philanderer. The libertine who takes what he wants and lives only for his own pleasure. All three are Don Giovanni, antihero in Mozart's drama of lust and revenge. He's surrounded by memorable characters, including his frustrated servant Leporello and the three women he encounters: fiery Donna Elvira, tormented Donna Anna, and impressionable Zerlina. Filled with thrilling music and drama, including a finale so overpoweringly dramatic that it changed music forever, Don Giovanni is justly celebrated as the perfect opera.

Week 15: Lyric Commentaries for opera streaming

Another week of opera streaming is headed your way! Lyric's magical production of Georges Bizet's The Pearl Fishers headlines Saturday's broadcast series with WFMT. Also featured this week are selections from the Metropolitan Opera's week 15 of opera streaming, and a contemporary opera from Opera Philadelphia's Digital Festival. You'll also have the opportunity to watch "Live with Carnegie Hall: Isabel Leonard."

Lyric Music & More: May 26

We may be getting a little stir-crazy at home, but at least we don't have statues coming to life and singing to us like Don Giovanni. This week, enjoy an extended clip from the closing scene of Lyric's 2019 production of Don Giovanni, starring Lucas Meachem in the title role and Mika Kares as the reanimated Commendatore.

Lyric Family Favorites: May 22

In the midst of so much uncertainty, a tale of good and evil can be very refreshing. This week we bring you the famed "Jewel Song" from Gounod's Faust, in which the beautiful Marguerite, sung by Ailyn Pérez, is tempted by gifts from the demon Méphistophélès.

From Wacker Drive to Working from Home

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, and we agree. As Lyric prepared to announce the cancellation of its long-awaited Ring cycle, a few photos were taken of the empty stage, empty streets, and soon-to-be-empty offices of Lyric Opera of Chicago. Here are a few snapshots of Lyric's transition to working from home.

Popera!

What happens when opera goes pop? There's a grand tradition of opera stars teaming up with pop stars to create memorable collaborations. Here are some exciting examples of what happens when musical genres collide!

The King and I: "Shall we Dance?"

In this scene, the King of Siam has just hosted a successful dinner for a group of English diplomats and their wives. The King (Paolo Montalbán) has a moment alone with his children's governess, Anna Leonowens (Kate Baldwin), who attempts to explain certain Western customs. Recalling what it's like for a girl at her first dance, she does a polka on her own, but then the King insists that she teach him to dance with her.

Lyric Music & More: May 19

Looking for things to do at home? Many of us are spending much more time with our little ones lately, and we’d love to help you share your love of music with your family while at home. Head to our new Kids Corner for all kinds of music-related activities like word searches, coloring pages, mad-libs, and more! 

The Barber of Seville: “Ecco ridente in cielo”

In The Barber of Seville, irrepressible Rosina refuses to marry her pompous old guardian. Meanwhile, a bold young count is eager to win Rosina for himself. And who's going to make sure those two finish the opera united? The cleverest character in all of Seville: the barber Figaro, whose services are sought after by everyone for everything (the guy has a lot more talents than just cutting hair). Rossini's music—the aural equivalent of champagne—is the last word in humor, inspiring smiles and laughter on every page of the score, which is what makes Barber the most popular of all operatic comedies.

Rigoletto - La donna è mobile

Here, in act three of Rigoletto, Rigoletto (Quinn Kelsey) and Gilda (Rosa Feola) arrive outside. The Duke's (Matthew Polenzani) voice can be heard from inside, singing "La donna è mobile" ("Woman is fickle"). Sparafucile's sister, Maddalena (Zanda Švēde), has lured him to the house. Rigoletto and Gilda listen from outside as the Duke flirts with Maddalena. Gilda laments that the Duke is unfaithful.

Lyric Family Favorites: May 15

As many of us approach two months under a stay-at-home order, some of us might be longing for some Rossinian hijinks to pass the time. Today's featured excerpt comes from this past season's audience and critical favorite, The Barber of Seville. Count Almaviva, portrayed by tenor Lawrence Brownlee, serenades Rosina while disguised as the poor student Lindoro. We think that this outdoor performance of "Ecco ridente in cielo" fulfills Chicago's current social distancing guidelines, and we hope it adds to your "finding happiness through music" quota for the day!

Lyric Music & More: May 12

Are you singing at home? We certainly are. Nothing quite compares to the power of song to lift the spirits. So this week we bring you tenor Matthew Polenzani, a Lyric favorite and alumnus of the Ryan Opera Center, singing one of opera's greatest melodies, "La donna è mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto. We dare you not to sing along!

Opera 101: Who’s in that box? The life of an opera prompter

If you come to see an opera performance at Lyric, you might notice a small, unobtrusive black box that sticks up slightly from the edge of the stage, positioned just above the orchestra pit. Would you believe that a person actually spends an entire opera in that small space? It's the prompter's box! While the prompter might be hidden from view, it is an incredibly important job. A prompter is the liaison between the conductor in the pit and the singers on stage. Having a prompter is a safety net for singers who have to remember several hours of material, usually in foreign languages.

You can never get enough “Summertime”

Porgy and Bess, by composer George Gershwin and librettists Ira Gershwin and Dubois Heward, is one of the most popular American operas of all time. Not only that, its opening aria, "Summertime" is one of the most beloved songs in American music. In 2012, The New York Times reported that "Summertime" had been covered by artists of all genres more than 25,000 times. We can only imagine how much more that number has grown since. Join us as we delve into the rich history of artists covering this American classic.

From everyone here at Lyric, we'd like to wish all of the wonderful moms a very Happy Mother's Day. While there aren't many maternal role models to be found in opera, we all know that the way to any music-loving mom's heart is with an opera-inspired card.

From everyone here at Lyric, we'd like to wish all of the wonderful moms a very Happy Mother's Day. While there aren't many maternal role models to be found in opera, we all know that the way to any music-loving mom's heart is with an opera-inspired card.

Happy Mother's Day from Lyric

From everyone here at Lyric, we'd like to wish all of the wonderful moms a very Happy Mother's Day. While there aren't many maternal role models to be found in opera, we all know that the way to any music-loving mom's heart is with an opera-inspired card. Click through to download your own!

Lyric Family Favorites: May 8

We're all adapting to our changed world in different ways. Maybe you've adjusted your workout routine to your living room or turned your kitchen into a home office. For Lyric, it means doing everything we can to bring you the music you love even while you're at home. In honor of the Ring cycle that would have wrapped up on May 3, we bring you this awe-inspiring clip from Das Rheingold, featuring Diana Newman, Annie Rosen, Lindsay Ammann, and Samuel Youn in “Lugt, Schwestern."

Then, take a look back at some of the Legends of Lyric who excelled in German roles, learn about life backstage with Wardrobe, Wigs, and Makeup Director Scott Marr, and delve into the life and career of Lyric favorite Patricia Racette.

La Traviata: “Sempre libera”

In this scene from La traviata, Violetta (Albina Shagimuratova), a courtesan in Paris, gives a party where she's wooed by Alfredo (Giorgio Berrugi). Once she's alone, she laughs off the idea of true love and vows to live for pleasure, even when she hears the voice of Alfredo outside her window.

 

Lyric Music & More: May 5

Sometimes, we long for life's pleasures. The companionship of friends, the joy of good food and wine — who knows this better than Violetta in La traviata?

Elektra: “Ob ich nicht höre”

Here, Elektra's consuming desire to avenge her father Agamemnon's murder has been fulfilled: the murderers — Elektra's mother Klytämnestra and Klytämestra's lover, Aegisth — have been killed by Elektra's brother, Orest. Elektra (Nina Stemme) exults with her sister, Chrysothemis (Elza van den Heever), but after a few moments of dancing in triumph, she falls dead, leaving Chrysothemis despairingly calling for Oretes.

Lyric Family Favorites: May 1

As intense as your favorite Netflix show might be, it doesn't hold a candle to the drama of Elektra. Watch an extended video of Nina Stemme and Elza van den Heever in the final scene of Strauss's violent thriller and be relieved that Elektra is not on your "quaranteam." Then, revisit the legacy of legendary Lyric favorite Richard Tucker, learn about the instruments of the Ring, and get a tap lesson from Lyric leading artists Ryan McKinny and noteable Ryan Opera Center Alum Amanda Majeski.


 

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