March 06, 2019

Two Important New Works are Headed to Chicago

Cycles of My Being

Enjoy a Q&A with celebrated tenor Lawrence Brownlee

Lyric Unlimited is excited to present Cycles of My Being, a brand new song cycle exploring the realities of life as a black man in America. Composed by Tyshawn Sorey with lyrics by Terrance Hayes, the Chicago-premiere event will star celebrated tenor Lawrence Brownlee in a solo recital with pianist Myra Huang. Taking place Thursday, February 22 at 7pm at the DuSable Museum of African American History (740 E 56th Pl, Chicago), the recital is an excellent way to commemorate Black History Month. Tickets are just $15 and are available online or by calling 312.827.5600.

In the midst of Lawrence’s busy schedule (he’s also preparing to sing the lead role of Arturo in Lyric’s upcoming production of I Puritani!), he took a few moments to answer our burning questions about this new work. 

Why do audiences need to see Cycles of My Being this February 22? 

The music being performed in this recital really gives a unique perspective on some of the thoughts and questions surrounding how black men in particular are treated and viewed in America. It’s great for audiences to experience how we try to balance that reality while maintaining a positive attitude and remaining resilient.

What's unique about this recital and why is it important to perform this work now?

This work is very timely and unique because far too many men of color are enduring aggression, incarceration, brutality, and even death at the hands of the police. This cycle looks into the mindset of men of color who are far too often the target of these egregious acts of violence.

How have you been preparing for the recital?

I’ve prepared by staying attuned to what’s going on in society towards people of color. It’s a topic that’s always in the news so it’s hard to miss. 

Describe working with Terrance Hayes (texts) and Tyshawn Sorey (music) in the creation of this recital.

I’ve enjoyed working with Terrance and Tyshawn immensely. We all bring our different perspectives and experiences to this piece and that allows for more depth and the sharing of ideas. I’m honored to be working with these two extraordinary talents and in these divided times, we hope to create something that brings people together with mutual respect, understanding, and communication across races and generations.

Tickets for Cycles of My Being are going fast so be sure to secure yours today for just $15 online or by calling 312.827.5600. 


Fellow Travelers

The stunning new opera receiving rave reviews premieres in Chicago this March

Fellow Travelers, which runs for four performances this March 17-25 at the Athenaeum Theatre (2936 N. Southport Avenue), is a powerful new opera based on the 2007 landmark novel of the same title by Thomas Mallon. Tenor Jonas Hacker and baritone Joseph Lattanzi will sing the lead roles of Timothy Laughlin and Hawkins Fuller, two men who fall in love during the height of the McCarthy era in 1950s Washington, D.C. 

With music by Gregory Spears and libretto by Greg Pierce, the opera was praised as being “a near-perfect example of fast-flowing musical drama…characterized by the tonal freshness and propulsive momentum of Minimalism,” by The New York Times after its 2016 world premiere at Cincinnati Opera. 

This past month, Fellow Travelers received its New York City premiere at the Prototype Festival, where it garnered another round of rave reviews. Critics and audiences alike are loving this compelling, fresh work that is equal parts touching and heartbreaking. 

Here’s what the critics are saying about Fellow Travelers’s triumphant New York City premiere:

“Some of the most gorgeous opera music in recent memory.” - BroadwayWorld

“The simple, effective production is fluidly directed by Kevin Newbury.” - The New York Times

★★★★★ - Financial Times

“Mr. Spears dares to envelop these men in rapturous music of almost cinematic lushness, with opulent chords and fidgety inner voices…” - The New York Times

“Spears has created a splendid musical portrait of the '50s and the forbidden world of two men in love.” - BroadwayWorld

“Joseph Lattanzi is a mellow-voiced, charismatic baritone.” - The New York Times

Cycles of my Being sponsors

Cycles of My Being song cycle is made possible by support from Eric and Deb Hirschfield

Lyric Unlimited was launched with major catalyst funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and receives major support from the Caerus Foundation, Inc.

Lyric Unlimited presentation of Fellow Travelers generously made possible by

Lead sponsor

with additional support from

Lauter McDougal Charitable Fund

Mary Patricia Gannon

Kenneth R. Norgan

Robert Kohl & Clark Pellett

Philip G. Lumpkin

Lyric Unlimited was launched with major catalyst funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and receives major support from the Caerus Foundation, Inc.

An opera by Gregory Spears
Libretto by Greg Pierce
Based on the novel Fellow Travelers
by Thomas Mallon
Developed and co-commissioned by
G. Sterling Zinsmeyer and Cincinnati Opera

Photo: Shervin Lainez
Fellow Travelers Art by Catrin Welz-Stein/Cincinnati Opera