Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt

October 06. 2018 - January 31. 2019

Upcoming Dates

October 06. 2018 - January 31. 2019

Lyric Premiere of an Opera for Young People Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt


Join us for a 40-minute operatic adventure at the crossroads of science and creativity! Based on a true story, legendary paleontologist Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn has an incredible collection of fossils at his museum, and turns to Charles R. Knight, the famous naturalist artist, to create vivid paintings that bring these ancient creatures to life for visitors. When Knight’s granddaughter, Rhoda, accompanies him to the museum, she is awestruck by these exciting fossils and the life-like images that her grandfather creates! Join Rhoda and the cast for this opera especially for kids aged 7-12 and their families.

  • Language: English
  • Running Time: 40 minutes
  • Location: Francis W. Parker School, 2233 N. Clark, Chicago

The Story of Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt

In the early 20th century, Dr. Henry F. Osborn was president of the American Museum of Natural History and a respected paleontologist, a scientist who studies fossils. To bring the museum’s fossil collection to life for visitors, Dr. Osborn turned to painter Charles R. Knight.

Through his detailed paintings, Knight took viewers millions of years back in time to see dinosaurs as active creatures instead of just fossilized skeletons. In fact, you can see some of his wall-sized paintings, called murals, at The Field Museum in Chicago.

Every weekend, Knight’s granddaughter, Rhoda, joined him at the museum while he worked. Rhoda called her grandfather “Toppy.” She watched in awe as Toppy used scientific knowledge and his imagination to transform the massive fossils unearthed by the museum’s paleontologists into paintings and sculptures.

In the opera, we join Rhoda at the museum as she goes on a hunt for the missing fossils of the newly discovered dinosaur, Deinocheirus. With the help of a friendly Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and a cavewoman (who prefers to be called a Neanderthal), Rhoda uncovers clues about the past and learns about the connection between creativity and science.

Meet the artists

Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt sponsors

Educational partner

Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt is a co-production with On Site Opera and the Pittsburgh Opera. The extended edition of the opera is commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Major support provided by the Nancy W. Knowles Student and Family Performances Fund. Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt and Opera in the Neighborhoods are supported by Lead Sponsor J. Christopher and Anne N. Reyes and cosponsors an Anonymous Donor (3), Brent and Katie Gledhill, Robert and Evelyn McCullen, the Sage Foundation, the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation, Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow, Jane Wilson and David Mayhew Stone Charitable Trust, and Wintrust Community Banks.

Lyric Unlimited Chicago Public Schools Bus Scholarships are supported by the U.S. Bank Foundation.

Photo: Kyle Flubacker