April 03, 2024

2023|24 Rising Stars say farewell

As another opera season comes to an end, it is once again time to bid a fond farewell to the outgoing members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. We are endlessly proud of everything these artists have accomplished while in the program, and know they are all destined for great things. Read about their time in the Ryan Opera Center below and see the 2023/24 Ensemble onstage at Lyric for the final time in Rising Stars in Concert on Saturday, April 13.

Kathryn Henry takes a bow after stepping into the lead role of Janáček's Jenůfa during Lyric's 2023/24 Season.

Kathryn Henry, soprano

Since the start of my operatic journey, I've dreamt of being a member of the Ryan Opera Center. I remember attending Lyric performances as a student, seeing current and alumni Ryan Opera Center artists in the casts, and saying to myself that, one day I would be one of those singers. That dream has become a reality, and I am extremely grateful. From coaches encouraging me to be my most authentic self to performing alongside my idols and everything in between, I have learned innumerable lessons to become a better performer, colleague, and person. Lyric Opera of Chicago is my home, and I will be forever indebted to the wonderful team here for their support and guidance.

Lindsey Reynolds lights up the stage during Rising Stars in Concert 2023.

Lindsey Reynolds, soprano

I am incredibly grateful for my time at the Ryan Opera Center! It has been a transformative experience filled with invaluable lessons and unforgettable moments. Working alongside world-renowned singers whom I've long admired has been a dream come true! Moreover, being surrounded by talented and supportive colleagues who have become like family has truly enriched my journey. The Ryan Opera Center has not only provided me with wonderful training but also a sense of belonging and fellowship that I will cherish forever! As I wrap up my time in the program, I'm excited to utilize all I've learned to enhance my next steps. With new skills, boundless passion, and heartwarming connections, I'm ready to spread my wings and sing!

Ryan Capozzo opened Lyric's 2023/24 Season as Steersman in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman.

Ryan Capozzo, tenor

My time with the Ryan Opera Center has been a deeply rewarding experience. It's been the highlight of my career to do such challenging and fulfilling work alongside my fellow Ensemble members. The professional and musical guidance I've received from the Ryan Opera Center faculty and administration has shaped me into a more complete and mature artist. I had the specific privilege of performing the Steuermann in Lyric's production of Der fliegende Holländer. Getting to work with that cast was a chance to learn from true masters of the craft, and it is a memory I will cherish dearly. Lyric will forever be a home away from home for me, and I thank you all for welcoming me with open arms!

Alejandro Luévanos as Riccardo (right) with Ryan Opera Center alumnus Quinn Kelsey as Carlo in Lyric's 2022/23 production of Verdi's Ernani.

Alejandro Luévanos, tenor

Being a member of the Ryan Opera Center has been a wonderful and literally life-changing experience: it's the first time I've lived outside of Mexico, spoken English on a daily basis, and had a regular routine of very intense work on my vocal, musical, and performance skills. But even more than that, knowing that I had been invited to join one of the most important programs in the world inspired me to cherish every lesson, coaching, class, and all the other opportunities offered. I leave the Ryan Opera Center confidently looking forward to what the future holds with all the tools needed to face it. And most importantly, I am even more in love with singing than ever before!

Laureano Quant performs an original composition at Lyric's 2023 Lawrence Brownlee & Friends concert.

Laureano Quant, baritone

Words cannot fully express how transformative the experience of being an Ensemble member of the Ryan Opera Center has been for me. I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I've been given here — they have challenged me in all aspects of my artistry. It is both exciting and humbling to recognize how much I've grown, thanks to being immersed in a nurturing environment with so many talented colleagues, faculty, and administration. With the invaluable training and experience I've received and the support of treasured friends and mentors, I look optimistically to the future of my professional journey as a proud member of the Lyric family.

Ron Dukes (back row, second from left) as Sam in the 2023 world premiere of The Factotum by Ryan Opera Center alumnus Will Liverman and DJ King Rico.

Ron Dukes, bass

Being invited to join the Ryan Opera Center was a full circle moment for me. I saw my very first opera at Lyric Opera of Chicago, a production of Tosca, so the company has always held a special place in my heart. Over the course of my residency I've been challenged as a vocal technician and stage performer on numerous occasions. Those experiences and everything else I've been provided here have been invaluable in developing my skills and abilities. I'll carry with me what I've learned here for years to come, and I am immensely grateful to all who made possible my time at Lyric.

Wm. Clay Thompson as the King in Verdi's Aida (2023/24) at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Wm. Clay Thompson, bass

My time at the Ryan Opera Center has been extraordinary. From the overwhelming joy of hearing my name called at the Finals to performing in Carmen, Le Comte Ory, and Aida, each step has been a testament to the dreams I've long nurtured. Sharing the stage with extraordinary talents has sparked an invaluable lesson — Iron Sharpens Iron. It has broadened my perspective and fueled my determination. The entire experience has been a journey of self-discovery, pushing me beyond my comfort zone and instilling a profound belief in my abilities, thanks to the unwavering support from my colleagues and the administration. This journey is not just mine; it's a collective triumph, and I am immensely grateful to have been part of it.

Donald Lee III conducts the Lyric Opera Orchestra and members of the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble at Sunday in the Park with Lyric.

Donald Lee III, conductor/pianist

The experience of being a member of the Ryan Opera Center has been nothing less than transformative. Thanks to our caring leaders and the resources provided by our incredibly generous sponsors, I've been able to develop my skills as a conductor and musician more intensely than I could have imagined. Being the inaugural Ensemble Conductor has allowed me to forge relationships with colleagues throughout the opera world, providing me with a clear path forward in the performing arts. I am incredibly grateful for three wonderful years in the Ryan Opera Center.

Luther H. Lewis III helps bring Jason and the Argonauts to life for young audiences during Lyric's 2023 Opera in the Neighborhoods program.

Luther H. Lewis III, stage director

I am honored to have been the first Ryan Opera Center Stage Director. This opportunity to develop my skills and train alongside some of the most seasoned and respected professionals has been truly life-changing. My experience included assisting on two world-premiere operas, and I am so grateful for the guidance and inspiration I've received. One of the most memorable and touching moments was seeing my name above the stage at last year's Rising Stars in Concert, particularly on the anniversary of my mother's passing. Having my directorial work appear at Lyric will be a lasting memory, and I feel well-equipped to continue my professional journey. I am beyond thankful.

Thank you, five! Lyric performances only run smoothly thanks to talented stage managers like Tess Naval.

Tess Naval, stage manager

As my time in the Ryan Opera Center concludes, I find myself reflecting on my growth as a stage manager. I have learned so much and cannot thank everyone enough for helping me throughout this journey. As my position was new, I wasn't totally sure what to expect, but from the minute I walked through the stage door, I was embraced with support, respect, and kindness. My confidence in my abilities has grown immensely, and I know that going forward I will continue to be supported by the incredible team here at Lyric. The skills I've nurtured and the lessons I've learned from the absolute best in the business will undoubtedly stay with me throughout the rest of my career.

The Patrick G. And Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center

The Patrick G. And Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center

Opera has the power to tell unforgettable stories and touch lives—and the talent of outstanding singer/actors is what makes each experience so resonant. The Ryan Opera Center was created to ensure the future of opera by identifying emerging artists from around the world, and providing them with comprehensive opera training and unique performance opportunities.

Header photo: The 2023/24 Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble, credit: Kyle Flubacker

Photo credits: Susan Miller Hult, Robert Kusel, Todd Rosenberg, Cory Weaver, Andrew Cioffi, Kyle Flubacker, Gordon Oliver, William Powell III