October 14, 2020

What's Happening at Lyric this Fall?

Back at the start of the year and the new decade, nobody imagined the twists and turns the world would take in the ensuing months. Forced to reinvent themselves, arts organizations have adapted to those upheavals: many theaters have moved to virtual performances, orchestras offer online chamber-ensemble performances, dance companies rehearse in small well-spaced groups, and behind-the-scenes content is plentiful in the digital realm.

While the Lyric Opera House doesn’t have live productions on stage due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, that doesn’t mean that Lyric Opera of Chicago is dormant! Learn more about what’s happening at Lyric, whether it’s online or in our building, as we prepare to welcome you back to the opera house when circumstances allow:


Seating renovation project

As you may know if you’ve been following our online updates, the Ardis Krainik Theatre had its seats removed from the main floor over the summer and will soon have new seats installed. Thanks to a generous, designated gift from an Anonymous Donor in support of enhanced theater accessibility, Lyric's auditorium is receiving a significant renovation that includes replacement of the theater's seats on every level, a restructuring of sightlines on the main floors, and widened aisles for greater ease of entrance and egress that will greatly improve the guest experience. To see photos of the removal of the old seats and the arrival of the new ones, as well as to learn more about the project, click here. We can’t wait to welcome our patrons back to Lyric in our newly improved theater.

Construction on the Ardis Krainik Theatre's main floor.

Master classes with Sir Andrew Davis and the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble

In late September/early October, Lyric’s Music Director Sir Andrew Davis held one-on-one master classes with many of the 2020/21 Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble, working through excerpts of one of Sir Andrew’s favorite operas, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. The highlighted Ensemble members include soprano Maria Novella Malfatti, mezzo-soprano Katherine Beck, baritone Leroy Davis, baritone Ricardo José Rivera, bass-baritone David Weigel, bass Anthony Reed, and Ensemble pianist Chris ReynoldsFollowing stringent guidelines from Lyric’s Safety Committee, Sir Andrew provided individual instruction to Ensemble members in a rehearsal space backstage at Lyric with accompaniment from the Ryan Opera Center’s pianist, Chris Reynolds. Video of these sessions can be seen by visiting Lyric's YouTube page.

Sir Andrew Davis in a master class with Ryan Opera Center pianist, Chris Reynolds.

Ryan Opera Center At Work

Lyric’s esteemed artist-training program, The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, recently switched from at-home lessons and coachings via Zoom to safe, in-person training at the Lyric Opera House. Members of the Ryan Opera Center’s 2020/21 Ensemble have brought life back to the opera house; they can be seen coming and going through the Stage Door entrance to rehearse with pianist and Ensemble member Chris Reynolds (safely separated by a plexiglass wall), with instructors such as Ryan Opera Center Director of Vocal Studies Julia Faulkner, on Zoom. To learn more about this transition, check out our blog From "Ryan Opera Center From Home” to “Ryan Opera Center At Work." 

Lyric Unlimited - Learning and Creative Engagement programming

Lyric's Learning and Creative Engagement team has reimagined its education and community programming to accommodate community health and safety, offering flexible virtual programming. These programs include continued Opera Residencies in 41 Chicago Public School virtual classrooms; a fully online EmpowerYouth! program, in partnership with the Chicago Urban League, for high school students to create an original production; and community programming inspired by the planned Chicago premiere of Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s Blue. To learn more about Lyric’s Learning and Creative Engagement programming, click here.

The 2019/20 ensemble of the EmpowerYouth! program.

Lyric web enhancements

In 2018, Lyric Opera of Chicago embarked on a phased approach to make sure that regular improvements to our website were part of our ongoing work. In the last two years, thanks to generous, designated funding, Lyric has launched new sales paths for subscriptions and single ticket sales that have greatly improved the customer experience. In keeping with last season's new branding initiative, the next phase includes enhanced navigation, the addition of artist bio pages to help audiences learn more about the world-class artists and creative teams that contribute to our work onstage, and a new look and feel for the site. The marketing team has been hard at work making sure that the website is ready to launch as we approach the end of this year—not only as a place for our audiences to interact with Lyric, but as a home for all of the exciting new virtual content that is being developed during the current season.

For the Love of Lyric Fund

Though Lyric’s stage is dark, our artistic and administrative work continues. Without ticket revenue, charitable contributions are even more vital to sustaining our company through this difficult time. Lyric patrons can donate the value of their canceled performance tickets or make a tax-deductible contribution to our For the Love of Lyric Fund, and gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar, doubling the effect of all donations made in Lyric’s recovery.

Donate to the For the Love of Lyric Fund


The opera house may be dark, but the work continues. We can’t wait to welcome our audiences back to experience live performances together—we’ll be ready!

Photos: Kyle Flubacker, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Todd Rosenberg