April 16, 2019

Cheers to 25 Years!

Posted 3/21/2019

Another opera season is drawing to a close, but you don’t have to wait until the fall to hear some of your favorite artists. On March 23, opera stars and special guests from around the country gather to celebrate the career and artistry of the “People’s Diva,” Renée Fleming. Hear Lawrence BrownleeTituss BurgessQuinn KelseyEric OwensSondra RadvanovskyChristian Van Horn, the 2018/19 Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble, and the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Patrick Summers perform works from The Marriage of FigaroToscaFalstaffRusalkaThe Merry Widow, and more along with selections from Carousel and The Light in the Piazza

25 years ago, Renée Fleming was introduced to Lyric audiences as Carlisle Floyd’s passionate heroine in Susannah. Since then, Ms. Fleming has starred in ten leading roles with the company, headlined many concerts, and became Lyric’s first-ever creative consultant. She was integral in the creation of Lyric’s annual musical which has enchanted audiences of all ages for the past six seasons.This spring, Bernstein’s West Side Story joins the list of classic Broadway musicals to be seen at Lyric. Before lending her voice to the movie Bel Canto, Ms. Fleming curated the world premiere opera of the same name by composer Jimmy Lopez with a libretto by Nilo Cruz, based on the novel by Ann Patchett. Ms. Fleming also brought together Lyric and The Second City for numerous projects including the sold-out Second City Guide to the Opera, serves as Advisor for the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, and spearheaded the Chicago Voices Initiative to celebrate Chicago’s vibrant, diverse vocal music culture. 

Renée Fleming and Samuel Ramey in Susannah

Renée Fleming and Jonas Kaufmann in Concert with the Lyric Opera Orchestra, 2014

This one-night-only concert gives Lyric audiences an opportunity to see two of the Ryan Opera Center’s most distinguished alumni, Quinn Kelsey and Christian Van Horn, alongside current Ensemble members. Mr. Van Horn has appeared at Lyric in 15 roles since 2004, most recently as Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust (2017/18). Earlier this season, he had a star turn in a similar role when he made his role debut as the title character of Boito’s Mefistofele at The Metropolitan Opera. This rising star was also the recipient of the 2018 Richard Tucker Award-- making him the third of his voice type to achieve the feat. Appearing in 17 roles since 2003/04, Mr. Kelsey received rave reviews when he took on the title role of Lyric’s production of Rigoletto (2017/18) and is the 2015 winner of the Met's Beverly Sills Award. This dynamic duo returns to Lyric in the 2019/20 Season for Verdi’s Luisa Miller, October 12-31.

Quinn Kelsey in the title role of Rigoletto 

Christian Van Horn as Méphistophélès in Faust

Luisia Miller at San Fancisco Opera

Only two sopranos have taken on the title role of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Both were making their company debut. One, is the woman of the hour: Renée Fleming, the other is Berwyn’s own Sondra Radvanovsky. Ms. Radvanovsky has performed seven roles at Lyric since 2002/03, most recently the title role of Norma (2016/17). She made history two seasons ago as the first singer to portray Donizetti’s three Tudor queens in a single Metropolitan Opera season. Ms. Radvanovsky will bring the three riveting finales of these operas to the Lyric stage in December 2019 in a semi-staged concert. She returns later in the season in the role of Lisa in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades

Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role of Norma

Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades

Bass-baritone Eric Owens has been seen at Lyric in seven roles since 2007/08. Most recently, he made his role debut as the Wotan/The Wanderer in the first three operas of Lyric’s ongoing Ring cycle. He returns in 2019/20 for the final installation &mdash Gotterdammerung — and three full cycles in April 2020. Mr. Owens was named artistic adviser for Glimmerglass Festival in 2017 and serves Lyric as a Community Ambassador and the Curtis Institute as co-director of the Curtis Vocal Studies Department and Curtis Opera Theatre.

Eric Owens as Wotan in Das Rheingold 

Eric Owens as Wotan in Die Walküre

Eric Owens as Wotan in Siegfried 

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee previously shared the stage with Renée Fleming in The Metropolitan Opera’s 2011 company premiere of Armida (Rossini). Quickly becoming a Lyric favorite, Mr. Brownlee has been seen in 3 roles and a duo recital with Eric Owens since 2015. A master of bel canto repertoire, he was most recently seen as Arturo in Lyric’s production in I puritani (Bellini). In the 2017/18 season, he brought Cycles of My Being to Chicago. This new song cycle, composed by Tyshawn Sorey with lyrics by Terrance Hayes, explored the realities of life as a black man in America. The tenor opens Lyric’s 2019/20 Season with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.


Lawrence Brownlee as Aurtro in I puritani 

Rossini's The Barber of Seville

Emmy and SAG nominated actor, musician, and writer Tituss Burgess is perhaps best known for his role as ‘Titus Andromedon’ in the hit Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. After four seasons on the show, he has garnered nominations for four consecutive Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, and two Critics’ Choice TV Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. In the world of film, Tituss has appeared in the Netflix comedy Set It Up and will be seen in the upcoming biopic Dolemite Is My Name also for Netflix. A veteran of the stage, Burgess made his Broadway debut in 2005 as ‘Eddie’ in Good Vibrations. Since then, he’s held many memorable roles, including ‘Hal Miller’ in Jersey Boys, 'Nicely-Nicely Johnson’ in the 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls, and 'Sebastian the Crab' in The Little Mermaid

Tituss Burgess

Join us on March 23 as we raise a toast to Renée Fleming’s extraordinary commitment to Lyric over the last 25 years with an extraordinary evening of music-making. Concert tickets are still available starting at $69. A limited number of NEXT student tickets are also available. 

This one-night-only event will feature an exclusive Gala at The Ritz-Carlton following the performance. Celebrate with us in style as we pay tribute to Ms. Fleming with dinner and dancing until the clock strikes midnight. The glamour of this special evening will be matched only by Ms. Fleming herself!

Renée Fleming 25th Anniversary Concert & Gala sponsors

Lead sponsor

Liz Stiffel

Platinum sponsors

The Crown Family

Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan

Sage Foundation

Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance

Ann Ziff

Diamond sponsors

Mr. and Mrs. Fred A. Krehbiel

Golden sponsors

Anonymous Donor

Henry and Gilda Buchbinder Family Foundation

Amy and Paul Carbone

Mr. and Mrs. Michael P. Cole

Mr. and Mrs. W. James Farrell

Karen Z. Gray-Krehbiel and John H. Krehbiel, Jr.

Heinz Family Foundation

J. Thomas Hurvis


Jenner & Block

Rebecca and Lester Knight

Kohler Co.

Mr. and Mrs. Todd D. Mitchell

Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Morrison

Allan and Elaine Muchin

Mr. and Mrs. William A. Osborn

J. Christopher and Anne N. Reyes


Silver sponsors

Dr. and Mrs. Mark Bowen

Dr. Young Chung

Mrs. Robert W. Galvin

Andi and Jim Gordon/ The Edgewater Funds

Make It Better Media

Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel

Jennifer N. Pritzker

Pritzker Traubert Foundation

Donna Van Eekeren and Dale Connelly

Additional support

Mr. & Mrs. Dietrich M. Gross

Julian Family Foundation

Photos: Todd Rosenberg, Robert Kusel, Cory Weaver, Felix Sanchez/Houston Grand Opera