Lyric Opera of Chicago’s OPERATHON 2015 RAISES $500,000+ All proceeds support community engagement and education programs of Lyric Unlimited

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20 North Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606


Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Lyric Opera of Chicago’s
RAISES $500,000+
All proceeds support community engagement and education programs  of Lyric Unlimited


CHICAGO – OPERATHON 2015, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s annual live-radio marathon fundraiser on 98.7WFMT and, celebrated its 36th anniversary by raising more than $500,000 during its 16-hour broadcast on Saturday, October 3.

All proceeds support community engagement and education programs of
Lyric Unlimited, which served more than 126,000 children, adults, and seniors in the Chicago area last season. These include newly commissioned works to be performed in community venues; Opera in the Neighborhoods, Performances for Students and Student Backstage Tours at the Civic Opera House; the Vocal Partnership Program, Community Lectures, Youth Opera Council, Lyric Uncorked; collaborations with a variety of cultural and community organizations; and more.

“We are deeply grateful to our friends at WFMT for making OPERATHON possible for more than three-and-a-half decades,” said Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director. “It is an outstanding collaboration.

“The success of this event is integral to achieving our 2015-16 annual fundraising goal,” Freud continued. “We are extremely grateful to all of our generous supporters who made pledges at all levels, and we deeply appreciate the hard work of the legions of volunteers and Lyric staff members who answered phones and assisted in many other ways behind the scenes. We are very proud of the support shown by the entire extended Lyric Opera family for our outstanding education and community engagement programs, which are part of our Lyric Unlimited initiative.”

OPERATHON 2015, sponsored by Ardmore Associates and Walgreens, went on the air at 8:00am and concluded at midnight, broadcasting from The Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Civic Opera House.

The 16-hour event was anchored by 98.7WFMT’s Peter Van de Graaff,
Carl Grapentine, Candice Agree, and David Polk, and by Lyric’s dramaturg
Roger Pines, who also selected all the musical excerpts heard throughout the day and night. Steve Robinson, general manager of 98.7WFMT and The WFMT Radio Network, orchestrated activities behind the scenes. WFMT’s engineers for the 16-hour broadcast were Don Mueller, Eric Arunas, and Joshua Sauvageau.

OPERATHON 2015 exceeded its $500,000 goal thanks to numerous challenge grants offered by individuals, foundations, corporations, various Lyric Opera Chapters; exceptional participation by the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation, the Lyric Opera of Chicago Overture Society, Richard P. and Susan Kiphart, Dr. and Mrs. Tapas Das Gupta, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Marjan, Allan and Elaine Muchin, Julie and Roger Baskes, Sir Andrew Davis and Gianna Rolandi, and an Anonymous Donor; donations, purchases, and pledges from listeners. Generous sponsor of merchandise for OPERATHON 2015 was Fellowes, Inc.

Lyric’s general director, Anthony Freud, was in the radio studio for most of the 16-hour marathon fundraiser. Cayenne Harris, director of Lyric Unlimited, talked about the programs being supported by OPERATHON 2015. Lyric’s deputy general director, Drew Landmesser, talked about new productions, coproductions, and the company’s day to day operations. Numerous Lyric stars made on-air appearances throughout the fundraiser, including Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director and conductor of Cinderella, Wozzeck, The Merry Widow, and the world premiere of Bel Canto this season; and several cast members and creative-team members from the first three operas of the season: The Marriage of Figaro, Cinderella, and Wozzeck. Barbara Gaines, founder and artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater and director of Lyric’s new production of The Marriage of Figaro, talked about the vital importance of supporting education and engagement programs. The entire Figaro cast crowded into the studio following their evening performance.

Also participating in the broadcast were Lyric Board president and CEO
David T. Ormesher and Lyric Board member Cherryl T. Thomas, president & CEO of Ardmore Associates; chorus master Michael Black; members of the
Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus; and ensemble members of the
Ryan Opera Center, among others.

Lyric used social media outlets Facebook and Twitter to engage audiences in OPERATHON. Lyric Opera tweeted all day and encouraged others to do so with #OPERATHON.

OPERATHON 2015 was hosted by Lyric Opera and its 14 Chapters.
Mary Houston (Near North Chapter) and Claudia Winkler (Near North) served as the co-chairs.


About Lyric

Founded in 1954, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility. For more information, visit


About Lyric Unlimited

Launched in 2012, Lyric Unlimited is a long-term, evolving initiative that encompasses company activities that are not part of Lyric’s mainstage season. Its mission is to provide a relevant cultural service to communities throughout the Chicago area and to advance the development of opera by exploring how opera as an art form can resonate more powerfully with people of multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and interests. Lyric Unlimited leads the development of innovative partnerships with a wide range of cultural, community, and educational organizations to create a breadth of programming through which Chicagoans of all ages can connect with Lyric. In the 2014-15 season, more than 126,000 children, students, and adults participated in Lyric Unlimited activities. For more information, visit



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