A Twenty-first Century Tradition
Lyric Opera of Chicago presented its 17th annual Stars of Lyric Opera concert on September 8. The free concert, conducted by Lyric Opera Music Director Sir Andrew Davis, featured artists from Lyric’s upcoming 63rd season, along with the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus, performing highlights from several of the season’s featured operas.
The tradition began in 2000 with a generous grant from the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), and it has been sustained by continued support from MPTF as well as a number of foundation and corporate sponsors. After a hiatus in 2004 (due to heavy scheduling demands of Lyric Opera’s 50th season that year), the concerts moved from the James C. Petrillo Band Shell (appropriately a venue named for the founder of the MPTF) to the new jewel in the crown of Chicago—Millennium Park, which is now also the home of the Grant Park Orchestra.
Beginning in 2007, the concerts have been broadcast on Chicago’s classical-music radio station, WFMT 98.7, and since 2010 also live-streamed on the station’s website. Lyric Opera Orchestra Committee Chair William Cernota said, “As a gift to the city of Chicago and the world at large, the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Chicago Federation of Musicians, and Lyric Opera Chorus have promoted and continuously support free live radio broadcasts of these performances on WFMT.”
New “General” in Washington
The Washington National Opera (WNO) announced it has hired Timothy O’Leary as its new General Director, replacing former Executive Director Michael Mael, who stepped down in July (Note: see “Newslets” in the June issue). O’Leary is currently General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where he has overseen a doubling of the organization’s endowment. “His vision for opera and audiences in the 21st century is both thoughtful and fearless,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. O’Leary will begin in July 2018.
Also in September, musicians of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra ratified one-year contract extensions with both WNO and the Kennedy Center. The short-term nature of the agreements was due, at least in part, to uncertainty surrounding the executive vacancy.