July 07, 2023

Music and memories in the park

For more than 20 years, Lyric audiences have enjoyed opera under the stars in two of Chicago's most beautiful parks. Beginning in Grant Park at the Petrillo Music Shell and moving to the newly built Jay Pritzker Pavilion in 2005, Lyric's free public concerts have been a highlight of the year for countless music lovers. With upwards of 10,000 annual attendees, the concert offers a taste of the season ahead, and has long served as the unofficial start to the fall classical music season.

On Sunday, August 20, the sounds of the season will once again fill Millennium Park with Sunday in the Park with Lyric. This free, one-night-only concert will feature the 2023/24 Ryan Opera Center Ensemble with the Lyric Opera Orchestra under the baton of Lyric's music director, Enrique Mazzola. Hear selections from the upcoming season — including Verdi's Aida, Rossini's Cinderella, and Wagner's The Flying Dutchman — as well as some operatic hits and highlights performed by today's emerging stars.

Audiences gather to hear selections from Lyric's 2002/03 Season in Grant Park.

See the stars of tomorrow, today

Chicago is no stranger to stars on the rise. Little did audiences know that when they arrived in Grant Park for Lyric's second-ever pre-season concert, they'd be witnessing one of opera's greatest success stories. In his first U.S. appearance, audiences were introduced to tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who would be making his official American operatic debut as Cassio in Lyric's production of Verdi's Otello the following week. The young German tenor's liquid voice and spotless musicianship helped him stand out alongside established stars like Ben Heppner, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Catherine Malfitano, and more.

Year after year, audiences were treated to a mix of internationally renowned stars, up-and-coming talents, and young artists on the verge of major careers. Members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center (formerly known as the Lyric Center for American Artists) have participated in every Stars of Lyric Opera concert since 2000. Chicago audiences can look back at the program's list of starry alumni like René Barbera, Elizabeth DeShong, Nicole Cabell, Christian Van Horn, Quinn Kelsey, and more, and say "I saw them when..."

Artists take a final bow at Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park in 2011.

Welcome home Lyric's globetrotting Maestro

When Lyric presented its first free pre-season outdoor concert in September 2000, it was led by longtime principal conductor and artistic director Bruno Bartoletti. The following year, Sir Andrew Davis was on the podium in his first appearance as Lyric's new music director. In September 2021, Maestro Enrique Mazzola led the Lyric Opera Orchestra and members of the Ryan Opera Center in his first public outing as music director of Lyric Opera of Chicago. After a busy summer conducting some of the world's finest orchestras, Maestro Mazzola returns home to Chicago to kick off the 2023/24 Season, where he will conduct Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, Blanchard's Champion, Verdi's Aida, and Mozart's Requiem.

Music director Enrique Mazzola leads the Lyric Opera Orchestra at his first Sunday in the Park with Lyric in August 2021.

Soak up the last rays of summer with Sunday in the Park with Lyric, beginning at 7pm CT on August 20, 2023. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members will perform excerpts from the 2023/24 Season including Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment, Verdi's Aida, and so much more. Pack your picnic basket, bring your friends, and join us for this special summer concert under the stars. Perhaps you'll even be able to say you heard the next Jonas Kaufmann at Sunday in the Park!

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August 20, 2023

Sunday in the Park with Lyric

Sunday in the Park with Lyric

Join us for an evening of beautiful music as artists from The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center perform a variety of favorites from the 2023/24 Season accompanied by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and conducted by Enrique Mazzola, Lyric’s music director. Bring a blanket, your favorite snacks, your fellow music lovers, and those you can’t wait to introduce to opera for this free, fun and friendly, can’t-miss summer delight that always ushers in a new cultural season on a high note.

Header photo: The full cast of the 2018/19 concert, Stars of Lyric Opera in Millennium Park, take a final bow. Credit: Todd Rosenberg

All other photos: Dan Rest, Todd Rosenberg, Kyle Flubacker