New season of OPERA IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS - Lyric Opera of Chicago


Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Education Department
The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center
launch the new season of 
with performances of Donizetti’s delightful
The Elixir of Love
in English
begins Oct. 9


Some 25,000 Chicago-area schoolchildren will be introduced to opera this fall thanks to Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Opera in the Neighborhoods program. Produced by The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the program will present 30 performances of The Elixir of Love, Oct. 9 – Nov. 13, at several city and suburban schools.

For the 14th consecutive year, Opera in the Neighborhoods offers an abridged contemporary English adaptation of a famous work. This year’s The Elixir of Love is adapted and directed by Brian Russell. Music director is David Richardson.

These presentations are designed for students in grades 3-8 and are performed in high-school and college auditoriums throughout the Chicago area without charge. Two performances (starting at 10 a.m. and noon) are staged each scheduled day. Each show consists of 50 minutes of the opera (abridged, in English) followed by a short question-and-answer session with the cast. Specially prepared study guides are provided in advance for each attending student and teacher. Written by Lyric’s Education Department, the study guide explores how an opera is created and how the various musical pieces fit together. The study guide is underwritten by Donna Van Eekeren.

Lyric Opera of Chicago will present Opera in the Neighborhoods’ The Elixir of Love in the following locations with performances at 10:00 a.m. and noon:

Friday, Oct. 9               Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., Chicago

Wednesday, Oct. 14     Northside College Prep, 5501 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago

Thursday, Oct. 15         Curie Metro H.S., 4959 S. Archer Ave., Chicago

Friday, Oct. 16             St. Scholastica H.S., 7416 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago

Monday, Oct. 19          Governors State University, 1 University Pkwy., University Park (Park Forest)

Wednesday, Oct. 21     Morton East H.S., 2423 S. Austin Blvd., Cicero

Thursday, Oct. 22         Addison Trail H.S., 213 N. Lombard Rd., Addison

Monday, Oct. 26          Park Junior H.S., 333 N. Park Rd., La Grange Park

Tuesday, Oct. 27          Niles West H.S., 5701 Oakton St., Skokie

Wednesday, Oct. 28     Andrew H.S., 9001 W. 171st St., Tinley Park


Monday, Nov. 2          Evanston Twp. H.S., 1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston

Thursday, Nov. 5         Schurz H.S., 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago


Monday, Nov. 9          Whitney Young H.S., 211 S. Laflin St., Chicago

Tuesday, Nov. 10        Pfeiffer Hall, North Central College, 30 N. Brainard St., Naperville

Friday, Nov. 13                       Simeon Career Academy, 8147 S. Vincennes Ave., Chicago


 “The best introduction to opera is to witness a live performance. That’s exactly what Opera in the Neighborhoods gives young students – a chance to see opera performed by first-rate professional singers,” says Mark Riggleman, Lyric’s director of education. “It’s a learning experience, but it’s also very entertaining, and it broadens the horizons of students in art, history, and music.” 

Opera in the Neighborhoods is made possible by generous and deeply appreciated lead sponsorship from Mrs. Herbert A. Vance and Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance, with additional support from Kraft Foods, and Donna Van Eekeren.


Biographies of the artists:

Adina – Janai Brugger

Soprano Janai Brugger is a native of Chicago and attended DePaul University and later, the University of Michigan. She’s been a Young Artist with the Chicago Opera Theater for two years and participated in a master class with Marilyn Horne at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.


Nemorino –  Matthew Giebel

A native of Baraboo, Wisconsin, tenor Matthew Giebel attended the Interlochen Arts Academy, the New England Conservatory of Music, and earned a master’s degree at the University of Southern California. Later this season he will sing the role of Frederick in Light Opera Works’ production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.

Belcore – Martin Woods

Baritone Martin Woods attended Morehouse College and the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He has performed studio background vocals for artists such as Beyoncé Knowles and made his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut as the baritone in All Rise! with Wynton Marsalis.


Dulcamara – Bill McMurray

Baritone Bill McMurray returns to Opera in the Neighborhoods for his fifth tour, having previously appeared as Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, Don Magnifico in Cinderella and Dr Dulcamara in this production.  He holds his master of music performance degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Pianist and Music Director – David Richardson

David Richardson holds degrees from Boston University and the Manhattan School of Music. He was a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and has attended summer programs at Aspen, Tanglewood and Salzburg.  He has worked on the music staffs at Boston University and the Hartt School of Music and has worked with Boston Lyric Opera, Granite State Opera, and the Boston University Opera Institute. 


Stage Director – Brian Russell

Brian Russell has directed more than a dozen shows for Chicago’s American Theatre Company (where he served as producing artistic director for several years) including Lee Blessing’s Two Rooms, Sam Shepard’s A Life of the Mind, and David Mamet’s American Buffalo (co-directed with Mike Nussbaum). His opera credits include Carmen at Sarasota Opera; and The Barber of Seville, Amistad, Roméo et Juliette, and La bohème for the Ryan Opera Center.


For further information call Jack Zimmerman at (312) 827-5925.