Lyric Music & More: August 26

A hundred years ago, the United States government took a landmark step towards gender equality with the passage of the 19th Amendment, prohibiting discrimination in voting on the basis of sex. In honor of Women’s Equality Day today, we are celebrating some of the outstanding, trailblazing women of opera who have elevated the art form.

Beginning with one of its founders, Carol Fox, and continuing with her successor, Ardis Krainik, Lyric Opera of Chicago was led by women of great vision for more than four decades. Find out more about the founding women of Lyric, and then discover the great composer and activist Ethel Smyth. We'll also look back at the legendary mezzo-soprano Giulietta Simionato, look to opera's bright future with celebrated mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges, meet composer Missy Mazzoli, and get to know master mentor Julia Faulkner.

Lyric trailblazers

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.


A musician activist ahead of her time

NYT: Ethel Smyth’s vocal symphony

A brilliant composer and a trailblazer of the women’s suffrage movement in England, Ethel Smyth is finally beginning to receive long-overdue attention for her music. Her last major piece, a vocal symphony titled “The Prison,” is being recorded for the first time.


A uniquely versatile voice

Legends of Lyric: Giulietta Simionato

Italian mezzo-soprano Giulietta Simionato was with Lyric from the very beginning, performing the roles of Rosina and Carmen in Lyric’s inaugural 1954 season. Her extraordinary versatility and dynamic personality made her an international legend. Discover more about this “diminutive dynamo.”


J’Nai Bridges wants to “change minds, heal hearts, and make music.”

Great Big Story: J'Nai Bridges

“Whenever I’m singing an opera I make sure to go to local schools and invite them to come to an opera.” See how J’Nai Bridges is dedicated to making sure that audiences who are not typically exposed to opera and classical music, including many children of color, are able to have that experience.


One of today’s most important young composers

Impromptu: Missy Mazzoli

Grammy Award-nominated composer Missy Mazzoli has been called “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (The New York Times) and “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart” (Time Out New York). Her work will be seen on Lyric's stage in future seasons — see what makes her tick in this beautifully captured interview with Missy in her Brooklyn home.


Guiding a new generation of singers

Master mentor: Julia Faulker

An extraordinarily talented singer who is also a gifted teacher is not easy to find. Julia Faulkner, Director of Vocal Studies at the Ryan Opera Center, is one of these rare individuals. Find out what makes Julia a “master mentor.”

It must be a sign of talent that I do not give up, though I can get nobody to take an interest in my efforts.

Fanny Mendelssohn

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Photos: Dario Acosta, Devon Cass, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Caroline Tompkins