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November 2014
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WFMT

Lyric Opera Timeline: the First 60 Years

The interior of Chicago's Civic Opera House

In 1952, a student singer named Carol Fox got to chatting with her vocal coach, Nicola Rescigno, and insurance man Lawrence Kelly about ways to sustain an opera company in Chicago – a series of previous attempts had ended in bankruptcy. They agreed, if they were to attempt such a venture, they would need to marshal community support – and what better way to recruit supporters than to show them an opera? In February 1954

WFMT’s Lyric Opera Weekend

Stars gather at the Civic Opera House to celebrate Lyric's 60th in an unforgettable concert

In February of 1954, Lyric Opera founders Carol Fox, Nicola Rescigno, and Lawrence Kelly launched the first production, hoping it would inspire opera lovers to step forward and offer financial and community support for an opera company in Chicago – it did. Rescigno conducted two performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Nicola Rossi-Lemeni as the Don, and Eleanor Steber

Esa-Pekka Salonen, iPads, and Turning 50

Esa-Pekka Salonen, c. Benjamin Suomela

He was hailed as a wunderkind when he seized the reigns of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at 34, half the age of other prominent conductors. Many observed that his boyish good looks made him seem even younger, but the people of Los Angeles quickly discovered this much-hyped maestro to be an intense and serious musician.

Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)

paulusstephen

Fans are mourning the loss of American composer Stephen Paulus who died on Sunday at the age of 65. Paulus wrote works for many American artists and ensembles, including Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Singers were particularly drawn to his treatment of the human voice, which garnered commissions from Deborah Voigt, Samuel Ramey, Thomas Hampson

Chicago’s Incubator for Opera Singers

Ryan Opera Center bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba as "Don Giovanni"

Richard Ollarsaba, who was the “cover” for Don Giovanni star Mariusz Kwiecien, got the call at 10:00 am: “Mr. Kwiecien will not be able to sing today. You’re on.” He had four hours until curtain.

“The instant I got the call, adrenaline shot through my system, but after the initial shock I immediately went into work mode and the only thing I could tell myself was ‘Just do your job’

Renée Fleming on Her Way to WFMT

Renee Fleming with Impromptu Producer Louise Frank and host Lisa Flynn at WFMT; photo by Noel Morris

Renée Fleming is stopping by WFMT’s studios Tuesday afternoon around 2:30 pm to speak with Lisa Flynn about her new CD, Christmas in New York. With dozens of recordings to her credit, this is her first holiday record. The popular diva used the project as an opportunity to reach across genres to some of her favorite artists. Chris Botti, Kurt Elling

Live from WFMT is Back with Dvorak Concerto

Drostan Hall

Monday nights have long been a showcase for local talent and beyond with a weekly broadcast of live music and conversation on WFMT. After a summer series of broadcasts from the Ravinia Festival, Live from WFMT kicks off a new season on Monday with a broadcast from Nichols Concert Hall at the Music Institute of Chicago. Monday’s show presents the ensemble Camerata Chicago with soloist Joshua Roman

Danish Day with the Danish String Quartet

The Opera in Copenhagen by Henning Larsen Architects

“We are three Danes and one Norwegian cellist, making this a truly Scandinavian endeavor. We are often joking about ourselves being modern Vikings – perhaps a touch more harmless than our ancestors – we are not pillaging cities or razing the English coastline! We are simply your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard.
”

Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble Live

Brass

Longtime principals of the Chicago Chamber Musicians continue the first Monday tradition of giving free lunchtime concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center. Trumpeters Charles Geyer and Barbara Butler will sit down with french horn player Gail Williams to play the bookends of the brass repertoire: arrangements of Renaissance and early Baroque pieces

Lyric Opera Opening Night

Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni, Metropolitan Opera

The 60th season at Lyric Opera of Chicago begins on Saturday with a bit of nostalgia: Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the same opera that launched the company 60 years ago.

Lyric Opera’s new production won’t look much like the original, however. It is directed by Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls, who is putting a more modern spin on the classic tale.