Ryan Opera Center Recital Series

The 2016/17 Ryan Opera Center Ensemble (top, L to R): Alec Carlson, Ann Toomey, Annie Rosen, Bradley Smoak, Diana Newman; (middle, L to R): Emmett O’Hanlon, Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi, Jesse Donner, Jonathan Johnson, Lauren Decker; (bottom, L to R): Lindsay Metzger, Mario Antonio Marra, Mingjie Lei, Patrick Guetti, Takaoki Onishi

What do Nicole Cabell, Matthew Polenzani, and Susanna Phillips have in common? These international opera singers trained at Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center.

Each year, the Ryan Opera Center nurtures gifted young artists who are on their way to major careers. Singers from all over the world compete for a place in this program, which offers vocal coaching, coaching in languages, performance experience, and a supportive environment to learn numerous operatic roles.

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center was established in 1974 as the professional artist-development program for Lyric Opera of Chicago. Since its inception, the Ryan Opera Center has been recognized as one of the premier programs of its kind in the world. That standing is maintained by providing the finest up-and-coming singers with unparalleled training and experience.

Selected from some 400 singers who audition annually, the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members are in residence for twelve months. During Lyric Opera’s main stage season, Ryan Opera Center members perform and understudy a significant number of principal and supporting roles. This presents an extraordinary opportunity to work with the world’s greatest opera singers, conductors, directors, orchestra, and chorus.

A testament to the Ryan Opera Center’s caliber and success is the roster of distinguished alumni who perform regularly on the stages of leading international opera houses, including René Barbera, Harolyn Blackwell, Nicole Cabell, Elizabeth DeShong, Mark S. Doss, Christopher Feigum, Elizabeth Futral, Roger Honeywell, Joseph Kaiser, Maria Kanyova, Quinn Kelsey, Gregory Kunde, Dina Kuznetsova, Emily Magee, Amanda Majeski, Susanna Phillips, Matthew Polenzani, Christian Van Horn, Amber Wagner, and Erin Wall.

The Ryan Opera Center Recital Series is made possible by the generous support of Julie and Roger Baskes.

Recitals will be broadcast on the first Sunday of the month at 7:00 pm. The host is Colin Ure. The series producer is Daniel Goldberg and the music producer is Christopher Willis. The program is administered by director Dan Novak, music director Craig Terry, and director of vocal studies Julia Falkner. Renée Fleming serves as an adviser.

Program Schedule | Fall 2016/Spring 2017

October 2, 2016, 7:00 pm

Duo Recital: Lindsay Metzger and Bradley Smoak

On in this recital, hear mezzo-soprano Lindsay Metzger and bass-baritone Bradley Smoak.  Bradley performs one of the earliest examples of a 19th century German art song with Beethoven’s “An die ferne Geliebte” (“To my beloved, far away”). Lindsay sings and speaks about Sibelius’ set of songs, Op. 37. And together they perform a duet from Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. Ryan Opera Center music director Craig Terry accompanies on piano. Stream the broadcast below.


November 6, 2016, 7:00 pm

Trio Recital: Ann Toomey, Jesse Donner, and Mario Antonio Marra

In this recital, hear soprano Ann Toomey, tenor Jesse Donner, and pianist Mario Antonio Marra. Jesse and Mario perform one of the great songs of the 19th century, Franz Schubert’s famous ballad Der Erlkönig. Also, Mario and Ann perform a piece from Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s zarzuela, Maria La O.


December 4, 2016, 7:00 pm

Duo Recital: Hlengiwe Mhkwanazi & Mingjie Lei

Songs by Henry Purcell, Richard Strauss, and John Carter will be performed on the next recital.  Our singers this week have come a long way from home to be part of Ryan Opera Center.  From South Africa, we have soprano Hlengiwe Mhkwanazi, and from China, tenor Mingjie Lei. They will be accompanied by Craig Terry on piano and will also be performing the beautiful duet “Tornami a dir”, from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.


January 1, 2017, 7:00 pm

Duo Recital: Jonathan Johnson & Takaoki Onishi

Our recital this week begins with the duet “Mimi, tu piu non torni” from Puccini’s La boheme. It features the talents of Ryan Opera Center tenor, Jonathan Johnson and baritone Takaoki Onishi.  Also on the program, Mr. Onishi will be taking on Gustav Mahler’s acclaimed song-cycle, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen or Songs of a Wayfarer. And Mr. Johnson will be singing four songs from 19th century French composer Henri Duparc.  They will be joined by Craig Terry on the piano.

February 5, 2017, 7:00 pm

Duo Recital: Annie Rosen and Patrick Guetti

Mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen and bass Patrick Guetti are accompanied by guest pianist Alan Darling.  Annie sings a set of songs by Russian composer Nicolai Medtner which are based on the poetry of Goethe.  While Patrick performs songs by Jacques Ibert about the legendary character Don Quixote.  Together, they sing a pair of duets by Brahms.

March 5, 2017, 7:00 pm

Trio Recital: Diana Newman, Lauren Decker, & Emmet O’Hanlon. 

The recital this week features Ryan Opera Center members soprano Diana Newman, contralto Lauren Decker, and baritone Emmett O’Hanlon.  Ms. Newman will be performing four songs by Felix Mendelssohn and a group of songs that she has titled “Lullaby.”  Ms. Decker will be singing Brahms’ celebrated Gypsy Songs and will perform a lively and intoxicating tune from Gershwin’s musical Song of the Flame, “Vodka.”  To end the program Ms. Decker and Mr. O’Hanlon will be singing a favorite from Cole Porter, the duet “Begin the Beguine”.  They will be joined by Craig Terry on piano.

April 2, 2017, 7:00pm

Neapolitan Music

Take a trip to Naples, Italy with a program of Neapolitan music that was arranged by Ryan Opera Center pianist, Mario Antonio Marra.  Featuring a variety of voices from the Ryan Opera Center the program will feature music by Gaetano Donizetti, Paolo Tosti, Roberto Falvo, and Ernesto de Curtis.  Join us for this colorful and passionate program of Neapolitan music.

May 7, 2017, 7:00pm

Operatic Rarities

The Ryan Opera Center takes on rarely heard operatic music in a program featuring the many different voices of the ensemble.  Music of Mozart and Korngold are highlighted as well as Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.  Joining the singers will be pianists Craig Terry and Mario Antonio Marra.

June 4, 2017, 7:00pm

Duo Recital: Alec Carlson & Emmett O’Hanlon.

Our next Ryan Opera Center recital brings us the voices of tenor Alec Carlson and baritone Emmett O’Hanlon.  Mr. Carlson will be singing “Morire” (“To die”) from Puccini’s La rondine and a song cycle by living American composer Tom Cipullo based on poems by Billy Collins. Mr. O’Hanlon will be performing Lee Hoiby’s dramatic and poignant “Last Letter Home,” we will also be speaking to him about his first year in the Ryan Opera center and being a member of Celtic Thunder a world renowned Irish group.  They will be joined by Craig Terry on piano.