July 03, 2016

Rising Stars with the Ryan Opera Center

For more than 25 years, the Grant Park Music Festival has been presenting rising stars from Lyric Opera of Chicago's Ryan Opera Center as part of the Festival's summer concert season. What started as a night of operatic highlights at the Petrillo Bandshell has blossomed into an integral part of the Grant Park Orchestra's rich offerings.

“Working with the Festival is a fantastic and fruitful collaboration,” said Dan Novak, Director of the Ryan Opera Center, Lyric’s professional artist-development program that was established in 1974 and today recognized as one of the premier programs of its kind. “This partnership gives our artists the opportunity to perform with an orchestra…and the Grant Park Orchestra, under Carlos Kalmar’s leadership, is so good!”

This year, six Ryan Opera Center ensemble members— Alec Carlson, Jesse Donner, Diana Newman, Emmett O’Hanlon, Takaoki Onishi and Bradley Smoak—will take the stage to perform Act One of Carlisle Floyd’s opera, Of Mice and Men. Edwin Outwater conducts.

“We love the accessibility of this opera. So many people know the John Steinbeck novella from their high school English class,” said Novak. “Such a good piece deserves to be heard more and at the Pritzker, our artists will be performing for audiences of over 10,000 people.”

Rounding out the program are two pieces by composer Nico Muhly that have been orchestrated especially for the Grant Park Orchestra, and will be sung by Annie Rosen, a second year ensemble member. She’s passionate about contemporary music and looking forward to performing music by this exciting and smart composer. 

Audiences might remember Rosen from the Festival’s Ryan Opera Center concert last year. She, and the cast of Of Mice and Men, will soon join the roster of distinguished Ryan Opera Center alumni who have sung with the Grant Park Orchestra early in their professional life. Their fans from the Festival will await their return to the Pritzker stage amidst thriving solo careers that take them to leading opera houses around the world.