CHICAGO – Lyric Opera of Chicago celebrated its glorious history and future Saturday, November 1, with a star-studded 60th Anniversary Concert at the Civic Opera House beginning at 6:30pm – sixty years to the day after the company officially launched its very first season.
Jane Lynch, the force-of-nature comedic actress and Illinois native, rocked the house in her Lyric debut as master of ceremonies. Lynch mixed it up with an internationally acclaimed roster of musical artists including Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, plus opera stars Stephanie Blythe, Johan Botha, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Quinn Kelsey, Ana María Martínez, Eric Owens, Marina Rebeka, and Amber Wagner.
Returning to wreak merry havoc on the opera-house stage were ensemble members from The Second City. Writer-performers Kate James and Tim Sniffen were joined by RaShawn Scott and Steve Waltien drew appreciative laughter from the near-capacity crowd. Sketches included a Sound of Music sendup featuring Renée Fleming and Jane Lynch.
Current artists and alumni of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, Lyric’s premier artist-development program that is celebrating its 40th season, were also featured on the program. Sir Andrew Davis conducted the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Michael Black, chorus master).
Repertoire for the concert included excerpts from Beethoven’s Fidelio, Mozart’s Idomeneo, Verdi’s Macbeth, Nabucco, and Falstaff, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Bizet’s Carmen, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Turandot, Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Kern & Hammerstein’s Show Boat, Williams’s Serenade to Music, and Arlen & Harburg’s iconic song, “Over the Rainbow.”
The new concert shell created for Lyric by one of the world’s most innovative and respected architects, Jeanne Gang and her firm Studio Gang Architects (studiogang.net), was seen and heard by the public for the first time at the Nov. 1 concert. Studio Gang’s design for Lyric’s concert shell explores the material properties of wood, bent into conic surfaces with varying degrees of concavity and convexity, and assembled into units that can be stored and assembled with ease. The design of the shell, made from rift-cut white oak, also explores moments of continuity with its surroundings, encouraging an elegant transition between the space of the Ardis Krainik Theatre and the stage.
Following the 60th Anniversary Concert, the Diamond Ball at the Hilton Chicago commenced at 9:30pm. Co-chairs for the concert and the Diamond Ball were Amy and Paul Carbone and Elizabeth and Michael Cole, all of Chicago. Mr. Carbone and Mr. Cole are both members of Lyric’s Board of Directors and Mr. Carbone is also treasurer of the Board. Ms. Cole is a member of the Women’s Board of Lyric Opera. Diamond Ball decor was by HMR Designs, with music by Alex Donner & His Orchestra, from New York City. Guests enjoyed complimentary transportation from the opera house, a reception, an elegant seated dinner in the Grand Ballroom, and dancing until 1am.
Broadway singer-actress Jenn Gambatese (star of last season’s The Sound of Music at Lyric Opera) made a surprise appearance at the Diamond Ball in glamorous evening attire that included $10 million worth of eye-popping diamond bracelets, necklace, rings, and earrings by Graff Diamonds, to perform “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Concert Master of Ceremonies Jane Lynch also performed spontaneously, singing “Slappin’ the Cakes,” with pianist Craig Terry, music director of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center.
Audience members received a complimentary commemorative book, 60 Lyric Moments following the 60th Anniversary Concert.
More information about Lyric’s 2014-15 60th anniversary season is available by visiting lyricopera.org.
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.
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