On Nov. 1, celebrities like Jane Lynch, Renée Flemingand Ramsey Lewis convened in Chicago to celebrate 60 years of the Lyric Opera. But the party isn’t over.
Northwestern’s Alice Millar Chapel will host the Lyric Opera Chorus on Nov. 22 for “A Wondrous Sound,” a concert filled with highlights from the company’s 60th anniversary season, as well as works from beloved opera favorites.
Chorus Master Michael Black has been working with his singers since August to prepare for this concert. Black says that the Lyric is one of the most successful opera companies in the world and the chorus has been an integral part every season.
“The whole idea behind this project was to get the Lyric Opera Chorus out of the opera theater and into the musical theaters in Chicago to let them experience exactly what this chorus does,” Black says. “This is the first time the Lyric Opera chorus has ever done this […], a chorus concert of just opera favorites.”
The chorus already performed “A Wondrous Sound” at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church in September, which “was really an incredibly wonderful experience,” Black says. Attendees gave a standing ovation after the chorus sung selections from “Anna Bolena,” “Tosca,” and “Carousel,” as well as favorites from “Macbeth,” “Madama Butterfly,” “Carmen” and “Die Fledermaus.” Black’s personal favorite pieces from this show come at the very end of the night.
“Right at the end we’re doing two items,” Black says. “One of them is an arrangement of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from ‘Carousel,’ and the other one it is ‘Make Our Garden Grow’ from ‘Candide.’”
Black has been the Lyric’s chorus master since the 2013-14 season, having been appointed after a turn as interim chorus master in 2011-12. When asked about his favorite memory, he speaks highly of his singers.
“I really enjoy watching the chorus participate in operas where they really add to the fabric of the opera,” Black says. “It’s not always the really big [shows]. It’s sometimes the ones where the chorus is used in a different way.
“Lyric is one of the world’s foremost opera companies, and to have it in a city like Chicago is a huge plus for the city,” he adds. “It’s incredibly user friendly. Having been to most opera companies in the world, you can walk in any night of the week, or when there’s a performance, and see the world’s best artists and one of the world’s best chorus. I’ve been thrilled with the state of the music making, the state of the production. It’s incredibly accessible.”