Lyric Opera of Chicago

Rising Stars in Concert closes 2012/13 season


For Immediate Release:
April 9, 2013


The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago  
“Rising Stars in Concert” 
with the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Ward Stare 
to close spectacular 2012-13 season on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.  
at the Civic Opera House. 
The performance will be broadcast the following day –  
Sunday, April 14, at 4 p.m. CDT 
on 98.7WFMT and streamed on 

Opera aficionados can hear the season-closing concert by ensemble members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago anywhere in the world!

The outstanding singers of the Ryan Opera Center will conclude an extraordinarily successful year of study and performance with the end-of-season Rising Stars in Concert for Lyric Opera donors. The program, which honors Gianna Rolandi and her tenure as Ryan Opera Center director, takes place Saturday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ardis Krainik Theatre of the Civic Opera House. Tickets for this concert are a benefit available only to Lyric Opera donors of $75 and above. It is not open to the public.

Rising Stars in Concert will bebroadcast locally on 98.7WFMT and streamed on on Sunday, April 14, the day after the performance, starting at 4 p.m. The broadcast is generously sponsored by the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation, which is also the concert’s lead sponsor. The classical station’s program host George Preston and Lyric’s dramaturg Roger Pines will serve as host and commentator respectively.

Emily Birsan, Tracy Cantin, Kiri Deonarine (sopranos), J’nai Bridges, Cecelia Hall (mezzo-sopranos), Bernard Holcomb, John Irvin (tenors), Joseph Lim,Will Liverman (baritones), and David Govertsen (bass-baritone) will perform in works of Bizet, Donizetti, Gounod, Handel, Mahler, Puccini, Rossini, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams, and Verdi, with projected English translations for all selections. The singers will be accompanied by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Ward Stare. (Ensemble member Evan Boyer will not be performing because of a Canadian Opera Company engagement.)

Rising Stars in Concert is generously sponsored by Lead Sponsor the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation, sponsors Accenture, Accretive Health, The AMD Family Fund,Julie and Roger Baskes, Catamaran, Sue and Melvin Gray, Howard Family Foundation, Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation,Nancy Lauter McDougalandAlfred L. McDougal, and Frank B. Modruson and Lynne C. Shigley; and cosponsor the Jeanne Randall Malkin Family Foundation; with additional support from Heidi Heutel Bohn, Mr. and Mrs. Allan Drebin, and Molex Incorporated

Lyric audiences have seen the 2012-13 Ryan Opera Center members perform critically acclaimed principal and supporting roles during Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 58th season. They also served as understudies for major and minor roles.

Of the 11 singers in the 2012-13 ensemble, five will return to the program for 2013-14: sopranos Emily Birsan and Tracy Cantin, mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges, tenor John Irvin, and baritone Will Liverman. Five new ensemble members will join them: soprano Laura Wilde , mezzo-soprano Julie Anne Miller, tenor Adam Bonanni, baritone Anthony Evans, and bass baritone Richard Ollarsaba.

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago was established in 1974 as the professional artist-development program for Lyric Opera of Chicago. Since its inception, the Ryan Opera Center has been recognized as one of the premier programs of its kind in the world. That standing is maintained by providing the finest up-and-coming singers with unparalleled training and experience. Gianna Rolandi, director of the Ryan Opera Center since 2006, concludes her tenure with this concert but continues her association with the program as vocal consultant, a new position. Dan Novak, Ryan Opera Center manager since 2000, is the new director with Craig Terry in the newly created position of Ryan Opera Center music director.  

Selected from some 400 singers who audition annually, the Ryan Opera Center ensemble members are in residence for nearly 12 months. Over the course of the year they receive advanced instruction in numerous aspects of operatic performance, including voice lessons and coachings, language and acting training, and master classes with some of opera’s most celebrated artists, including David Daniels, Sir Andrew Davis (Lyric’s music director), Renée Fleming (Lyric’s creative consultant), Thomas Hampson, Matthew Polenzani (a Ryan Opera Center alumnus), and Renata Scotto,among others.

During Lyric Opera’s mainstage season, Ryan Opera Center members perform and understudy a significant number of principal and supporting roles. This presents an extraordinary opportunity to work with the world’s greatest opera singers, conductors, directors, orchestra, and chorus. They also gain valuable performing experience by participating in recitals and concerts at many Chicago-area venues.

The ensemble is featured in monthly broadcasts of the Ryan Opera Center’s 98.7WFMT Recital Series, also streamed at Previously broadcast programs are online at (under "Audio" tab).

A testament to the Ryan Opera Center’s caliber and success is the roster of distinguished alumni who perform regularly on the stages of leading international opera houses. It includes René Barbera,Harolyn Blackwell, Nicole Cabell, Elizabeth DeShong, Mark S. Doss, Christopher Feigum, Elizabeth Futral, Roger Honeywell, Joseph Kaiser, Maria Kanyova, Quinn Kelsey, Dina Kuznetsova, Gary Lehman, Emily Magee, Amanda Majeski, Susanna Phillips, Matthew Polenzani, Erin Wall,and Guang Yang. 

Described as “a compelling figure on the podium” and “one of the hottest young conductors in America” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Ward Stare conductedLyric’s production of Hansel and Gretel this season and was on the podium for last season’sRising Stars in Concert. Stare recently completed his tenure as resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in which he led the ensemble in more than 150 concerts. (He debuted at Carnegie Hall with the SLO in 2009.) Stare has won acclaim with the major orchestras of Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Paul, as well as the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Bangkok Symphony, and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. The former Juilliard student began his career at 18 as the Lyric Opera Orchestra’s principal trombonist. He received the Aspen Festival’s 2006 Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize and the 2007 Aspen Conducting Prize, and spent the 2007-08 season as a League of American Orchestras Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He returns to Lyric Opera next season to conduct Die Fledermaus.

For photos of the current ensemble please contact Kate Suffern: 312-827-5934 or