March 06, 2019

Chance of a Lifetime: Ryan Opera Center Final Auditions

Sunday, September 25, will be a day of reckoning for some of today’s most outstanding young singers. That afternoon, onstage at the Civic Opera House’s Ardis Krainik Theatre, they’ll perform in the Final Auditions for Lyric’s renowned professional-training program, The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. The auditions could possibly change their lives in the most exciting way imaginable. If they’re successful, that means they’ll be among the 10-15 members of the 2017-18 Ryan Opera Center Ensemble.

Among the 20-25 singers are those who have been with the program for one or two years and are auditioning for an additional year. The new voices have been chosen from some 400 applicants heard by Dan Novak (director), Craig Terry (music director), and Julia Faulkner (director of vocal studies), in auditions all over the United States, from May through August.   

The artists who are reauditioning sing just one aria, but the others each have a ten-minute audition slot that accommodates two of the selections on their aria list. They choose their opening piece, and the judges choose whatever else they want to hear. What to include in the list? That’s a huge decision on the singer’s part. And, above all, what should they choose as the first aria they sing?  

Every piece sung should show that the voice can project satisfactorily in a house the size of Lyric’s, and that the singer conveys artistry that is worthy of a major company. But beyond that, the judges (Novak, Terry, Faulkner, general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and director of artistic planning Andreas Melinat) are looking for a special individuality in each auditionee. What do they have to say as artists?  Does their performing have a quality that makes the listener pay attention? Do they have genuine career potential? And does the program have something to give them that will prepare them for that career?

The 2017-18 Ensemble members will begin their tenure next spring. They’ll spend the summer studying – language classes, voice lessons, dramatic coaching, and so on – in addition to performing. Of course, they’ll also be preparing their assignments for the opera season, during which they’ll sing supporting roles and “cover” (understudy) larger ones. The Ryan Opera Center’s contribution to the season is enormous – the current season will find Ensemble artists singing 36 roles and covering 47!

The Ryan Opera Center experience gives young artists a chance to immerse themselves in the life of an international company – the atmosphere, the work ethic, the day-to-day rigors of putting world-class opera on the stage. The chance to rehearse and perform alongside some of today’s greatest artists, and to work with conductors and directors of world stature, has an impact you can’t measure in words or dollars. Whether it’s after three years, two years, or a single year, Ryan Opera Center members leave the program with the tools to make their mark in the world of opera. And for a lucky few who may well be tomorrow’s stars, it all starts on our stage on September 25!

The 2016 Final Auditions will take place from 12 noon to approximately 6pm on Sunday, September 25All subscribers and all donors are invited to attend, with limited balcony seating open to the general public for no cost!  Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines will be master of ceremonies and baritone Quinn Kelsey, a Ryan Opera Center alumnus portraying Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor at Lyric this fall and now embarked on a major international career, will be the special guest.

Photo of Ryan Opera Center ensemble members and sponsors: Jaclyn Simpson