March 06, 2019

New Faces at the Ryan Opera Center

The Ryan Opera Center, Lyric's internationally renowned artist-training program, welcomed five exceptionally gifted new Ensemble members in the spring. You see the entire Ensemble pictured above. The new artists are delighted to be a part of the Ryan Opera Center and are already gearing up for the 2017/18 season. We introduced you to two of the new members in June; this month we feature profiles of the three new men in the incoming class.

Canadian tenor Josh Lovell has sung with many important Canadian musical organizations (including Pacific Opera Victoria, where he made his Canadian operatic debut in Falstaff), and with the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra and Oakland Choral Society. An alumnus of San Francisco Opera’s Merola program and a former Met Auditions semifinalist, he debuts at Lyric as the Emperor in Turandot (“someone completely different – not naïve, not young, and not influenced by romance”). Josh is a singer because “nothing else fulfills me as much. Sharing what I have, giving what I have to others and telling these amazing stories, is what I love to do and is me.”

Mexican tenor Mario Rojas, a San Francisco Conservatory alumnus, debuts at Lyric in Rigoletto. In 2015 Mario won awards in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Palm Springs Opera Guild, Opera Index, and Met Auditions competitions. One of the youngest recipients of the Plácido Domingo scholarship from SIVAM, Mexico's most prominent young-artist program, he’s starred as Puccini’s Rodolfo at Mexico City’s world-famous Opera de Bellas Artes: “I’m the youngest person to sing a leading role there – it’s still mind-blowing to me.” Lyric's creative consultant, Renée Fleming, encouraged him to audition for the Ryan Opera Center: “She said, ‘I know you’re very young, but your talent is larger than your age.’ I came to Chicago to audition on July 28 – my birthday!” Mario just turned 24 in late July.

Bass-baritone Alan Higgs, a Florida native, made his professional debut in 2014 at The Atlanta Opera. A 2017 national Met Auditions semifinalist, he’s a Florida State University alumnus (while there, he was thrilled to prepare the leading role in Cold Sassy Tree with its composer, Carlisle Floyd), and a former Santa Fe Opera apprentice artist (one of only two winners of the Katherine Mayer Award for outstanding apprentices in 2016). “I’m super-excited about being part of Lyric’s Rigoletto and Puritani,” he says, “with all-star casts for both productions – getting to work with them and be beside them onstage is going to be amazing.”