Backstage Life: Kevin Krasinski
Kevin Krasinski - Artist Services Manager
What is your role at Lyric, and how long have you held the position?
As artist services manager, I am responsible for arranging housing, travel, and visas for Lyric’s myriad artists from around the globe. I began in October 2018 upon the retirement of my esteemed predecessor, Josie Campbell, who gave over 34 years of exemplary service to this opera house.
As artist services manager, what was your role in helping the Ring artists get home after Chicago's stay-at-home order?
I had been in a unique position during the lead-up to this crisis, as I’d been tracking travel restrictions worldwide. I watched in real time as nation after nation imposed increasingly strong restrictions, with an especially keen eye on Italy, Germany, France, and the UK. After the stay-at-home order, my attention shifted to gathering the information I need to assist our artists in getting home. I feared domestic travel restrictions, especially for major cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and New York, were only a matter of time. I also feared the effect that worldwide embassy and consulate closures will have on the visa process, not to mention the domestic service centers that process the initial petitions. We were already dealing with “crisis-level processing delays,” and this situation made matters worse. Of course, my primary focus is to ensure that Lyric is prepared to resume normal operations as soon as possible so we can all share once again in the unparalleled catharsis of music. We have only one direction available to us – forward.
What led you to work at Lyric?
After finishing my master’s degree in voice/opera performance in 2017, I seriously considered whether the jet-setting lifestyle of a fulltime opera singer was right for me. I decided that administration was a better path for the life I envision. I started applying to every position at Lyric for which I felt qualified and interested, eventually working on three projects with Lyric Unlimited before assuming my current role.
What’s a typical day like for you?
During the season I sit backstage in the rehearsal department, colloquially referred to as “The Fishbowl” owing to the row of large glass windows through which anyone entering or exiting backstage can peer. From here, artists have immediate access to me to discuss any issues that may arise during their time in Chicago. In between handling artists’ individual requests, I do my best to make future arrangements as far in advance as is practical. The bulk of my business is conducted over email. When no artists are in town, I retreat to my fourth-floor office to spend my days making future arrangements and organizing the digital mess I make in the haste of the season.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Balancing artists’ individual interests with those of Lyric, the other companies with which I collaborate in my role, and my own time management and mental health.
What keeps you committed to the work you do?
An adoration for the art form, the chance to provide help on a near-daily basis, and the ever-looming threat that my failures are more publicly visible than most. It’s difficult for an artist to perform if they’re not in the city, not to mention the country!
What’s something about your job that people might not know?
I regularly use the NATO Phonetic Alphabet when making arrangements for artists over the phone, especially for those whose names are of Eastern European origin.
A favorite Lyric moment?
While not opera-related, I really enjoyed when the new puppy owned by two of my colleagues licked my face for about three minutes straight. That was a good day.
Beyond opera, what are your other passions?
Last summer I tried my hand at gardening, building my first-ever backyard butterfly sanctuary. I also love taking wilderness adventures with my family. In addition to my work at Lyric, I sing regularly with numerous professional and semiprofessional choruses around Chicago. Finally, I spend an inordinate amount of time playing video games, which I find to be one of the most immersive and expansive mediums of storytelling ever imagined. Oh, and nothing beats a long, quiet walk at twilight.
What are you most looking forward to in the 2020/21 season?
Specifically, I am most excited about the U.S. premiere of Lessons in Love and Violence, an English-language opera composed within the last five years that deals directly with contemporary societal issues like sexuality, gender normativity, and generational disputes. Other personal highlights include The Rake’s Progress and our “A Knight to Celebrate” concert honoring the storied two-decade tenure of Sir Andrew Davis.