Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago's Fantasy of the Opera Gala $504,000 net raised! Attendance 560!

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Fantasy of the Opera Gala
$ 504,000 net raised!  Attendance 560!
Guild Board of Directors’ 26th annual Fantasy fundraiser,
 “Hearts Afire,” sizzled in the Civic Opera House on Sat., Feb. 6, 2010


Susan Graham’s impromptu rendition of “Summertime” delights dance-floor crowd
Mark Delavan channels Johnny Cash with “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Ring of Fire”



A thousand ruby and magenta roses, fiery red table linens and curtains, plus cut crystal centerpieces, elaborate rose-colored lighting, and ornately painted signage all set the scene for “Hearts Afire,” the 26th annual Fantasy of the Opera Gala benefit hosted by Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Guild Board of Directors at the Civic Opera House on Saturday, February 6.


Early in the evening, an array of elegant tastings prepared by some of Chicago’s top chefs enticed the crowd of 560 ticket-holders for the festive fundraiser. Restaurant stations could be found throughout the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Grand Foyer and American Airlines Mezzanine. Many enjoyed an “Elixir of Love” cocktail (rum punch served in bright red glasses on lit neon trays) and other refreshments while they placed silent-auction bids beneath red silk canopies in the Nancy W. Knowles Lobby, or purchased raffle tickets.

The Fantasy Cabaret showcased the diverse musical talents of current Lyric artists Nicole Cabell (The Elixir of Love), Danielle de Niese (The Marriage of Figaro), Susan Graham (The Damnation of Faust), Joyce DiDonato (Figaro), David Cangelosi (Tosca), and Philip Kraus (Figaro); as well as Ryan Opera Center members Angela Mannino, Amber Wagner, Kathryn Leemhuis, and David Portillo. Selections by William Bolcom, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Kurt Weill, Rogers & Hart, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and others were performed. Lyric’s music director Sir Andrew Davis was master of ceremonies, and pianist Craig Terry accompanied the singers.

Baritone Mark Delavan, who starred in last season’s “Cav/Pag” and returns next season for A Masked Ball, brought down the house with his soulful renditions of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” which had Fantasy guests clapping along. In a Fantasy Cabaret first, Delavan sang an encore – “Ring of Fire,” also by Johnny Cash. Delavan accompanied himself on guitar, and was joined by pianist Craig Terry and double-bass player Jonathan Gilley.

Following a seated dinner prepared by Calihan Catering, many guests danced to the Ken Arlen’s Indigo in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Grand Foyer until midnight. Others enjoyed elegant chocolates by Godiva in the Opera Club, which was dubbed the GoDiva Lounge for the evening. 

Sometime after 11 p.m. mezzo-soprano Susan Graham joined Ken Arlen’s Indigo onstage for an impromptu rendition of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” Guests on the main floor stopped dancing to listen, while those on the mezzanine level (including Lyric general director William Mason and his wife Diana Davis), crowded the rail to watch. Mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato, who earlier in the evening had crooned “My Funny Valentine” during the cabaret, encouraged her fellow mezzo to go for the high C.



Fantasy Chairman Oscar Tatosian (Chicago)

Fantasy Co-Chairman Monica Pedersen (Highland Park)

Fantasy Raffle Chairman Joan Solbeck (Chicago)

Fantasy Silent Auction Chairman Nancy Temple (Chicago)

Guild Board President Elaine Cottey (Chicago)


Platinum Grand Benefactor & Lead Sponsor

Harris Private Bank


Golden Grand Benefactors

An Anonymous Donor; Bain & Company; Baker & McKenzie; closerlook, inc.; Deloitte.;

Ernst & Young LLP; Jenner & Block LLP; Mr. and Mrs. John W. Jordan II/Jordan Industries;

Richard P. and Susan Kiphart; KPMG LLP; Latham & Watkins LLP;

Mayer Brown LLP; and Donna Van Eekeren


Silver Grand Benefactors

An Anonymous Donor; Eisen Family Foundation; James G. and Laura G. McCormick;

Allan and Elaine Muchin; Peer Pedersen; Spencer Stuart;

and Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon LLP



BBJ Linen and Quarles & Brady LLP


Fantasy Raffle Sponsor

American Airlines, the Official Airline of Lyric Opera



Calihan Catering


Reception Restaurants

Carnivale, Coco Pazzo, Devon Seafood Grill, Il Mulino, Lloyd’s Chicago, Lockwood, N9ne,

 One North, Piccolo Sogno, Phil Stefani 437 Rush, Primebar, Prosecco, Province, Shikago


GoDiva Lounge

Godiva Chocolatier



Ken Arlen’s Indigo



Kehoe Designs and Oscar Isberian Rugs



 BBJ Linen


For event photos, please contact press coordinator Carrie Napolilli: 312-827-5823 or