March 06, 2019

Celebrate the Ryan Opera Center’s Extraordinary Season with RISING STARS IN CONCERT on April 7

What an amazing season it has been for the artists of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center! The dozen singers and one pianist of the 2018/19 Ensemble have learned and performed reams of music, been coached and guided by top professionals, and delivered a wide range of polished performances in a variety of venues throughout the Chicago area and beyond. 

Highlights included:
• Whitney Morrison, Ann Toomey, Lauren Decker, and Christopher Kenney performed The Old Maid and the Thief with the Grant Park Music Festival 

• Whitney Morrison, Ann Toomey, Mario Rojas, and Ricardo José Rivera appeared in Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park

• Ensemble members performed 28 roles and understudied 35 roles in the eight mainstage operas of the 2018/19 Season

• Ann Toomey portrayed Musetta/La bohème four times in January, stepping in for Danielle de Niese
• Mario Rojas portrayed Alfredo/La traviata on March 4, stepping in for Giorgio Berrugi 

• Eric Ferring took on the role of Lurcanio/Ariodante 

• Lauren Decker, Alan Higgs, Josh Lovell, Whitney Morrison, and pianist Madeline Slettedahl have been featured in the Beyond the Aria series at the Harris Theater
• Eric Ferring and Madeline Slettedahl performed in a Dame Myra Hess Recital with the International Music Foundation at the Chicago Cultural Center

• Varying combinations of Ryan Opera Center artists have performed in the monthly WFMT Broadcast Recital Series

• All Ensemble singers performed in Lyric’s Renée Fleming 25th Anniversary Concert in the Ardis Krainik Theatre

And so much more!

Lyric supporters can hear these talented artists in Rising Stars in Concert on Sunday, April 7 at 2pm — the “grand finale” for the 2018/19 Ensemble. The audience will enjoy performances by sopranos Whitney MorrisonEmily Pogorelc, and Ann Toomey; mezzo-soprano Kayleigh Decker; contralto Lauren Decker; tenors Eric Ferring, Josh Lovell, and Mario Rojas; baritones Christopher Kenneyand Ricardo José Rivera; bass-baritones Alan Higgs and David Weigel; and pianist Madeline Slettedahl.  

In arias, duets, and larger ensembles, they will share their artistry in repertoire encompassing familiar and rarely heard works by Rossini, Donizetti, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Massenet, Verdi, Poulenc, Rachmaninoff, Cilea, and Barber. Christopher Allen will conduct members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. 

Morrison, Toomey, Lovell, and Higgs will conclude their tenure with the Ryan Opera Center following the concert to pursue full-time careers nationally and internationally. The rest will return in May, along with new Ensemble members for the 2019/20 Season.

Lyric donors of $50 and above are eligible to reserve two complimentary tickets for Rising Stars in Concert. Tickets are available at

Rising Stars in Concert
 will also be broadcast on 98.7WFMT and on Sunday, April 14, 2019, beginning at 7pm.

Photos: Todd Rosenberg, Simon Pauley