April 14, 2020

Ryan Opera Center from Home: Kayleigh Decker

May 4, 2020

Mezzo-soprano Kayleigh Decker just completed her second and final year in The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. Hailing from Woodstock, Maryland, she is an alumna of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory. In Lyric's 2018/19 season, she made her Lyric debut as Second Cretan Woman in Idomeneo and was seen as Dorothée in Cendrillon (pictured above); and in 2019/20, she sang Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Among Kayleigh's many honors are first place in the Musicians Club of Women Scholarship Competition, a 2019 Luminarts Fellowship, and a 2019 Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. In the 2020/21 Season, Kayleigh returns to Lyric as an alumna to sing the role of Cherubino in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

Keep reading to see how Kayleigh has continued to work from home during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Photo: Simon Pauly

If you had asked me two months ago what I thought the world would look like today, I never could have imagined the reality we are all living in currently. I feel incredibly grateful to have had the support of the Ryan Opera Center and Lyric Opera of Chicago during this challenging time. Even though it seems like the classical music world is crashing down around us, I am in awe of all of the administrative staff who are still chugging along and propping up all of the Ensemble members during this time.

It would be a lie if I said I'm doing great. I am doing OK, but the past few weeks at home have been a battle. Productivity and creativity have been, well, a journey, and I am really scared for the future. However, I am clinging to the language classes the Ryan Opera Center provided and the sessions we received with Julia Faulkner and Craig Terry every week. Although the online platform, in my opinion, will never be as good as an in-person meeting, I came to enjoy the Zoom meetings. I actually preferred the language classes online, because we didn't have to have German class at 9am! All of these meetings with my colleagues were a bright ray of normalcy in a world that feels so unstable.

Practicing in the house while there are two other people working from home has proved itself to be a little bit challenging. Even though my mother claims she loves to listen to me sing, I'm pretty sure her engineering colleagues have now determined she lives with a goat. I also try not to take offense when the dog starts howling in the basement.

Even though I am scared, I hope for the future and I am using this time to ask some hard questions, dig deep, and strive for little bits of progress every day.


It breaks my heart that I didn't get to say a proper goodbye to my Lyric family, a group of people that has shown me immense warmth, generosity, and encouragement over the past two years that I have been an Ensemble member. But I know I will be back to Chicago and I am excited for the day when music returns to the Lyric Opera House.

I am keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

-Kayleigh Decker

Ryan Opera Center From Home: "Boum"

Pianist Madeline Slettedahl and mezzo-soprano Kayleigh Decker perform Charles Trenet's "Boum."

People of Lyric: Kayleigh D.

Hear about one of Kayleigh's favorite moments in this People of Lyric video from 2018.

Photo: Todd Rosenberg