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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The Instruments of the RING

What exactly is a "Wagner Tuba?" Can an anvil be an instrument? Click through to learn about Wagner's groundbreaking instrumentation of the Ring cycle and hear some examples performed by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra.

Week eight: Lyric Commentaries for Met Opera Nightly Streams

Begin the month of May on a high note with week eight of Metropolitan Opera's Nightly Streams!

Prepare yourself for the upcoming season with The Marriage of Figaro streaming on Monday evening and Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci streaming on Sunday to bookend your first full week of May. You'll also have the chance to revisit the 18/19 Season's beloved La bohème streaming on Friday night. Renée Fleming returns for another week alongside Lyric favorites Bryn Terfel, Eric Owens and Patricia Racette.

La bohème: "Quando me'n vo'"

"Quando me'n vo'" (also known as "Musetta's Waltz") is a soprano aria from Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème. Here, in Act Two, Mimì, Rodolfo, and their friends have come to Café Momus for a drink. Musetta appears, accompanied by Alcindoro, her rich admirer. Agitated at being ignored by Marcello, Musetta launches into a song — to provoke and seduce him.

Lyric Music & More: April 28

Many of us probably wish we could visit a bustling Parisian café right now, which is why this week we're living vicariously through soprano Danielle de Niese as Musetta singing "Quando me'n vo'" from our 2018 production of La bohème. We're also reprising a lighthearted Patter Up interview with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, a behind-the-scenes Q&A with Wig Master and makeup designer Sarah Hatten, and a little inspiration for the at-home mixologists with new Lyric Libations.

With 15 hours worth of music, you have plenty of time to perfect these recipes before sitting back to enjoy your favorite recording of Wagner's Ring cycle.

With 15 hours worth of music, you have plenty of time to perfect these recipes before sitting back to enjoy your favorite recording of Wagner's Ring cycle.

Lyric Libations: RING cycle

With 15 hours worth of music, you have plenty of time to perfect these recipes before sitting back to enjoy your favorite recording of Wagner's Ring cycle.

Lyric Zoom Backgrounds

While we await the day you can join us at the Lyric Opera House for a live performance, you can show off your Lyric love with a custom Zoom background. Whether you want to have a drink with Carmen at Lillas Pastia's Inn, face a larger-than-life dragon with Siegfried, or be the star of your own opera on the Ken Pigott Stage, scroll down to find the perfect background for your next meeting or family gathering.

Week seven: Lyric Commentaries for Met Opera Nightly Streams

April 27 marks week seven of the Metropolitan Opera's Nightly Streams. Enjoy your opera favorites from the comfort of your own home!

Revisit this previous season's The Three Queens with Donizetti's Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux streaming Monday-Wednesday. Supplement your time with a feature article written by Lyric's Roger Pines as he delves into the historical context of these Donizetti queens. This week's lineup also showcases many Lyric favorites including Sondra Radvanovsky, Ryan Opera Center Alum Matthew Polenzani, and Joyce DiDonato.

Lyric Family Favorites: April 24

At a time when the days often blend into one another, does "TGIF" still apply? We think it does! If you feel like you've binge-watched every show on your list and you long for the thrill of great opera performance, today we're sharing an extended excerpt from Mozart's incomparably beautiful Idomeneo

Lyric Music & More: April 21

Just as you have probably needed to take a step away from some of the people and things you love, so have the artists at Lyric Opera. And what they really love is making music together for you. It's not surprising, then, that when Lyric had to cancel the Ring, members of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra still found a way to perform for our audience, playing individually from apartments and home studios all over the Chicago area, and — as you'll see — very much sharing the experience together.

Week six: Lyric Commentaries for Met Opera Nightly Streams

Week six of the Metropolitan Opera's Nightly Streams begins on April 20. You can still enjoy your opera favorites while practicing social distancing! 

The week kicks off with Richard Strauss' Elektra, featuring Nina Stemme in the titular role. Lyric audiences will remember her visceral performance from our 2018|19 Season. You'll also see Lyric Special Projects Advisor Renée Fleming, and Ryan Opera Center Alum Matthew Polenzani featured in this week's lineup.  

Lyric Family Favorites: April 17

Today, we pay homage to the Ring with the famed "Ride of the Valkyries" from our 2017 production of Die Walküre, and share a Lyric Legends profile of magnificent French soprano Régine Crespin, a soul-nurturing performance of Rusalka's "Song to the Moon," and a fun game of spotting our music director.

Spot Sir Andrew Davis

Even though Sir Andrew Davis is safe and sound at home, his heart will always be at the opera house. Thankfully, with a little Photoshop magic, he can hang out with Don Quichotte, Brünnhilde, or Figaro while still observing social distancing. See if you can spot him in some of his favorite opera scenes

Lyric Music & More: April 14

We're all looking forward to that "one fine day" when we can be together again, so today, we bring you an extended clip of "Un bel di" from Puccini's Madama Butterfly, performed by soprano Ana María Martínez earlier this season at Lyric.

Madama Butterfly: “Un bel dì vedremo”

In this scene, the maid Suzuki (Deborah Nansteel) doubts that, after a three- year absence, Cio-Cio-San's American husband will ever return. Cio-Cio-San (Ana María Martínez) assures her that it will happen, and describes what it will be like when he climbs the hill to the house, and how she will feel when she finally sees him again.

Pets of Lyric

They've always been there to welcome us home after a long day at the opera house. Now, meet some of the friendly and furry faces keeping us company while we work from home. The pups may not have perfect pitch and the cats don't know how to collate, but they are still a very important part of the team.

Directing the RING

One of the world’s most admired and innovative opera directors,
Sir David Pountney, discusses the great challenges of directing the Ring.

Philosophy and the RING

Two philosophers popular in his time clearly guided Wagner as he shaped and reshaped his Ring. In the end, though, Wagner created a tragic drama that is all his own, focusing on the nature of love, its glory and its tragedy.

Who Owns the Gold?

Richard Warren Shepro, a board member of both our Board of Directors and the Ryan Opera Center, is an international lawyer, professor, and writer. Here he writes about legal issues in The Ring of the Nibelung.

Lyric Family Favorites: April 10

This week, we're here to transport you, as only opera can do. We're visiting the faraway land of Ceylon, where The Pearl Fishers is set, and you'll hear tenor Matthew Polenzani as Nadir and baritone Mariusz Kwiecień as Zurga in the heartfelt duet "Au fond du temple saint," recounting the moment they both fell in love with the same beautiful, veiled priestess. 

Lyric Music & More: April 7

In these times of social distancing and spending our days at home, we’ve become very familiar with our pets’ daily nap schedules, the neighbors’ strange vacuuming hours in thin-walled apartments, and our coworkers’ coffee mug collections during video meetings. Thankfully, we’ve also gotten to know you better and we’re enjoying our conversations through email and on social media! To show you how we feel, we’ve included a clip of “Getting to Know You” from our 2016 production of The King and I, sung by Kate Baldwin.

Lyric Family Favorites: April 3

Enjoy learning more about the legendary Tito Gobbi, testing your Lyric know-how, a video of some of our favorite artists performing together virtually, and this previously unreleased footage of tenor Lawrence Brownlee in our 2018 production of Bellini’s I Puritani.

10 of Opera's Silliest Moments

Yes, the music is sublime, the spectacle is incredible, and the characters find their ways into our hearts. But even the most avid opera lovers can admit that some of our favorite operas have plot holes you could drive a bus through. Here are ten examples of operas with stories so wild, you'd think they were an April Fool's joke.

Conductor’s Note - Götterdämmerung

Compositionally and instrumentally, Götterdämmerung couldn’t have been written the way it was if Wagner hadn’t stopped midway in the cycle to write Tristan and Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The astonishing thing is that, although you might think there would be a huge change in style, it actually doesn’t quite feel that way, except that certainly Götterdämmerung is miles ahead of the others in terms of complexity and virtuosity of orchestration. 

Director's Note - Götterdämmerung

One of the curiosities of the Ring is its reversed compositional timeline – in itself a tribute to the astonishing artistic grasp that Wagner maintained over his huge project. Götterdämmerung was the first of the libretti to be crafted, and then the other three pieces were gradually added to flesh out its backstory.

Siegfried's Sabbatical

Of the myriad musical marvels that flow from Richard Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen cycle, one of the most significant takes place shortly after the midpoint of Siegfried, the third opera in the tetralogy.

Die Walküre: A Tug at the Heart

Die Walküre, the second opera of Richard Wagner’s mammoth Ring of the Nibelung cycle long has reigned as the most popular of the tetralogy and ranks among the favorites of the composer’s entire oeuvre. Wagner is challenging to many operagoers, but even those devoted to more compact, more obviously tuneful Italian and French standard-repertoire works often make room for Die Walküre.

A Vote for Das Rheingold

From the sustained E-flat chord that opens the work in the depths of the Rhine to the final grand entrance of the gods into Valhalla, Das Rheingold is filled with musical glories. There is nonstop action, a rarity in Wagner operas, as the composer keeps the pedal to the metal.

Lyric Music & More: March 31

Welcome to the latest Lyric Music & More! This week, we bring you an interview with our charge artist, Brian Traynor, a birthday tribute to composer Jake Heggie, activities you can do with the little ones in your life, and more original Lyric commentaries to enjoy before the Met’s nightly free streams. But everything starts with music, and in this issue we’re sharing a previously unreleased excerpt from our 2018 production of Puccini’s Turandot — featuring the wonderful Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus. 

Lyric Libations: TOSCA

Love. Jealousy. Revolution. Death. It all can be found in Puccini's Tosca. Three characters—the rebel, the diva, and the villain—are caught a game of cat-and-mouse with deadly consequences. Non-stop drama could require a cocktail (or three) to unwind. Pick your favorite!

Lyric Family Favorites: March 27

As we get ready to ride into a new weekend, we hope you're doing well and have everything you need — including some great music to pass the time. Today, we share a clip from our 2019 production of Verdi's Luisa Miller  a scene between Luisa and her father starring Krassimira Stoyanova and Quinn Kelsey with the Lyric Opera Orchestra under Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola. If you need a little excitement in your life right now, we hope these vocal fireworks will be just the thing to make your day!

Lyric Music & More - March 24

We hope you'll enjoy a clip of Adam Plachetka singing Figaro's famous aria from The Barber of Seville, an interview with Lyric Technical Operations Director April Busch, a fun 60-second "Patter Up!" with tenor Lawrence Brownlee, and more!

Interview with April Busch

April Busch has worked at Lyric for almost eight years. She was previously Production Manager, but her title has changed to Technical Operations Director. Learn more about her role at Lyric.

For our Lyric family

We at Lyric are committed to keeping the music alive during these uncertain times and connecting with you by sharing some of our favorite Lyric moments and providing you with fun, uplifting, and interesting content to help pass the time until we meet again at the Lyric Opera House.

Hearts full of music

Music has a way of connecting people, even when they are miles (or just six feet) apart. Our stage may be temporarily silent, but our hearts are full of music. We hope yours is, too.

Kiss & Tell: Valentine's Day at Lyric

On Valentine's Day, Norah and Jeff visited Lyric for the first time to see Puccini's Madama Butterfly. We caught up with them at intermission to hear their thoughts on the experience. Here is a glimpse into their own love story and why the couple chose Lyric for their perfect date night.

True to herself: Cio-Cio-San speaks

Ana María Martínez, widely recognized around the globe for her portrayal of Cio-Cio-San, illustrates for us her profound commitment to this character and how one presents this role in today's world. In this blog, she considers Cio-Cio-San's origins and early hardships with a keen understanding of how both the character's experiences and her culture shape the actions and choices we see onstage.

Which Donizetti Queen Are You?

Find out which Queen you relate to most and experience the stories of proud Mary Stuart, passionate Anne Boleyn, and mighty Queen Elizabeth I in THE THREE QUEENS, this December at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Opera in the Afternoon: An Insider's Guide to Matinees

Psst...We're going to let you in on a little secret. While everyone is familiar with the expression "a night at the opera," there are tons of perks to switching things up with an afternoon matinee. Talk to many people about where their love for opera started, and you'll hear that their parents and grandparents listened to the Met Saturday afternoon broadcasts, which started in 1931.

DON GIOVANNI Through the Ages

Did you know that Don Giovanni was Lyric Opera of Chicago's very first production in 1954? Here's a look at how this monumental Mozart opera has evolved over the years at Lyric.

Rape, revenge, love: the DON GIOVANNI puzzle

Don Giovanni is a glorious enigma. Its music is so enthralling, and yet its sentiments are confusing, perhaps also confused. Is the listener to be captivated by the Don, and to feel a sense of loss when he leaves the world – as many romantic interpreters have believed? If so, there is one sort of problem: for this Don is a really horrible person, who, despite a certain boyish energy and charm, has no sympathy at all for anyone else and who uses a combination of class dazzle and sheer force to make his conquests.

Harmonies and Hits: Verdi's Choral Music

If you're an opera audience member who is thrilled by the power of a full chorus blowing your hair back with sound, then you're no stranger to the wonder of Verdi. From the grandeur of Aida to the famed drinking song in La traviata, and the unforgettable sounds of the Anvil Chorus of Il trovatore, Verdi's choruses are among the most memorable moments in his operas.

Backstage Life: John Clarke

Welcome to Backstage Life where we feature the people behind the scenes who make opera happen. Today we're talking to John Clarke, a Lyric Opera stagehand who has been with us since 1986. Here's what he had to say about his life at Lyric.

Broadway Meets Barber: Spotlight on director Rob Ashford

Rob Ashford is a director, choreographer, and dancer. He also happens to be a Tony Award, Olivier Award, Emmy Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award winner. When general director Anthony Freud first approached Ashford about directing a brand-new production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville in 2014, it may have been his first time directing an opera, but it was far from his first exposure to the art form. 

The Great Return: Maria Callas and Lyric Opera

When Callas first arrived at the Lyric Opera House in 1954, everyone thought she would be preoccupied with glamour and stardom. However, she was only interested in rehearsal — her first questions were, "Where is the maestro? When do we start work?"

Madeline on the Move

As the only pianist in the Ryan Opera Center, Madeline's role is a unique one. Throughout the course of the year, the Ensemble pianist is responsible for helping to prepare his or her colleagues for Lyric season roles and other assignments. Not only is the pianist required to learn multiple operas each season, she or he also advises the Ensemble on art song and non-traditional repertoire.

West Side Story Insider

Each spring, Lyric invites a group of 5-10 musical theater “superfans” to be Social Media Insiders. Last week, 10 lucky fans got the chance to live-tweet the final Dress Rehearsal of West Side Story and get an exclusive look behind-the-scenes.

West Side Story for Every Budget

When it comes to grand opera, lavish productions are to be expected. However, Lyric’s knack for producing music theater on the biggest scale doesn’t stop there. Each spring, we bring our technical, artistic, and musical resources and expertise to a classic Broadway musical.

Happy Birthday Stephen Sondheim!

American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim turns 89 years old today! As everyone at Lyric is poised to start rehearsal for West Side Story (onstage May 3 - June 2), today offers the perfect chance to reflect upon the career and contributions of one of the artists who created this ground-breaking work.

Cheers to 25 Years!

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. 

Modern Match - Elektra

To binge-watch something – to invest time and emotions in a story – it must have the greatest actors, thrilling plot twists, and an undercurrent of psychological sizzle that keeps viewers clicking. In short, it must follow the formula that Richard Strauss used more than a century ago in Elektra.

Master Mentor

Today a new generation of singers is benefiting from Julia Faulkner’s knowledge and experience at Lyric’s renowned artist-development program, The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, where she is director of vocal studies.

Modern Match - Ariodante

The convoluted schemes, mistaken identities, and star-crossed lovers of Ariodante are connected by a series of heart-wrenching arias – moments when the plot pauses to allow the audience to engage their empathy. Modern television shows like Glee and Smash also use music to express the characters’ emotions. 

Modern Match - La traviata

Characters like Violetta endure due to their ability to capture the imagination of many generations. We see this, too, in another, more recent, beautiful and tragic figure: Diana, Princess of Wales.

Modern Match - Siegfried

Despite the millennia that separate the two, Wagner turned to ancient folktales as source material for his Ring cycle. Today, if the contemporary success of writer Neil Gaiman is any indication, we’re still gripped by mythology. 

Modern Match - Il trovatore

The hero of Il trovatore, Manrico, is introduced in the opera as an adult, but the mystery of his character can only be unlocked when we understand what occurred during his infancy. In this and other ways, he’s similar to another boy we know well: Harry Potter.

Modern Match - La bohème

Living in the city, following their dreams, falling in and out of love, all while barely scraping by: this is the reality of life for the main characters in La bohème, but also for today’s Millennials. The modern Millennial is seen on TV shows like How I Met Your MotherBroad CityShameless, and more.

Opera on Broadway: La bohème vs. Rent

Whether you’re an opera lover or a Broadway fanatic, you’ve probably heard by now that the 1996 musical Rent was loosely based on the 1896 opera La bohème. But if that’s news to you, don’t worry! Let us walk you through the similarities… (some spoilers ahead!)

Glitter... Glitter Everywhere

As Lyric’s Costume Director, Maureen Reilly is a pro when it comes to hoop skirts and high heels. But as opening night of Jesus Christ Superstar approaches, she reflects on the unique challenges that this ultra-contemporary production brings to Lyric. 

Give the Gift of Lyric this Holiday Season

There’s no time of year quite like the holidays, and it’s the perfect occasion to treat your loved ones to an experience they’ll never forget. From performance tickets to OperaShop apparel, here are just a few ways to give the gift of Lyric to the opera (or musical!) aficionados in your life.

Lyric Libations: Orphée et Eurydice

Tequila and lime, gin and tonic, opera and ballet...Sometimes the most simple combination can turn into something truly magical. Celebrate the first collaboration between Lyric Opera and The Joffrey Ballet with these Orphée et Eurydice-inspired cocktail recipes and see Gluck's baroque masterpiece through October 15.

Lyric 101: What to Wear to the Opera

One of the most common questions we receive here at Lyric is “How should I dress?” Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled this handy list of frequently asked questions and answers so you’ll know exactly what to wear on your next outing to Lyric.

Lyric 101: Getting Around

Situated on the Chicago River, the Lyric Opera House is just as beautiful as the operas that take place on its stage. However, it’s easy to understand how someone can feel overwhelmed during their first visit. That’s why we’ve created this handy beginner’s guide to help you get around!

A Romantic Night at the Opera

Looking for a romantic date night? Look no further! Though operatic tales of love don’t always end well, Lyric’s 2017/18 season features several couples who live happily ever after.

Winter is Here...Opera Season is Coming

Sunday night, season 7 of HBO’s Game of Thrones started off with a bang as millions tuned in to watch the drama unfold. However, with the show drawing to a close in 2018, many fans are left wondering where they’ll turn to satisfy their need for fantasy, drama, and intrigue after the show ends. Fortunately, we know the perfect place to go for all your Game of Thrones needs: Lyric!

MY FAIR LADY: Journey to the Stage

Take a look back at the first day of rehearsals. This production features 16 principal actors, an ensemble of 40, and 14 dancers! Many of these artists met for the first time just weeks before they would have to step onstage for the first performance.

Interview with Brian Traynor

I’ve been at Lyric since the 1998/99 season and I am the Charge Artist. It’s my job to make sure the finishes on the scenery, props, and costumes for a production are visually appropriate for the concept the designers and director have in mind. 

Behind the Scene of Das Rheingold

Creating a new production is an exciting and time-consuming undertaking for any opera company. This season, Lyric is debuting three brand-new productions: Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Berlioz’s Les Troyens, and Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The first of these shows is onstage now, but we’re going take a quick look back to see how the magic came to life.

5 opera myths BUSTED!

I won’t understand what’s going on! I have to wear a ball gown or a tuxedo! It’s so expensive! I have to have great seats! I have to read up on the opera!


 

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