Lyric Opera of Chicago Celebrates 68th Season With First-Ever Gala Held Inside the Opera House

Lyric Opera of Chicago commemorated the opening of its 68th season by holding its annual gala in a familiar yet surprising location: inside its famed and glorious opera house. It was the first time in the company’s lengthy history it has held its yearly fundraising event inside the artistic venue. 

lyric opera better makers
Photo by Robert Kusel

It all happened on September 10 as hundreds of Chicago’s philanthropists gathered at the gala, themed “There’s No Place Like Lyric.” The evening started off with a warm welcome from Music Director Enrique Mazzola, fresh off the success of the season-opening performance of Verdi’s Ernani the night before. Anthony Freud, Lyric’s General Director, President & CEO, served as event host and Susan Morrison, a member of both Lyric’s Women’s Board and its Board of Directors, was event chair.

Susan Morrison and family. Photo by Jaclyn Simpson.

Spotted in the crowd: Karen Freeman-Wilson, Nancy Santi, Anna Paglia and Sheila and David Ormesher

Kimberly Taylor-Smith (Evanston), Nancy S. Santi (WB President, Winnetka), Karen Freeman-Wilson (BOD, Chicago, President & CEO Chicago Urban League), and Soprano, Gabriella Reyes. Photo by Robert Kusel.

Three performers dazzled guests with their grand musicianship: pianist Chris Reynolds, a third-year member of Lyric’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble; countertenor John Holiday, a finalist on NBC’s The Voice who will star in Lyric’s world-premiere opera Proximity later this season; and soprano Gabriella Reyes, who broke audience’s hearts in last season’s Florencia en el Amazonas and will co-star in Lyric’s world premiere of The Factotum.

Gabriella Reyes and John Holiday perform. Photo by Jaclyn Simpson.

Stu Hirsh Orchestra also played, calling the crowd to the dance floor for a rousing conclusion to the night. 

HMR Designs concocted the event’s inviting atmosphere with a warm lighting design by Frost Chicago. Guests seated at intimate tables in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Grand Foyer relished in a family dinner prepared and served by Calihan Catering

Enrique Mazzola, Nancy S. Searle (BOD&WB, Winnetka), Anthony Freud, and Lili Gaubin (WB, Chicago). Photo by Robert Kusel.

Gala sponsors included Susan and Robert Morrison, Patrick and Shirley Welsh Ryan, AON, ITW and Northern Trust

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Lyric Opera of Chicago inspires and engages audiences through stunning live performances. Your support of the Company will help advance artistic excellence, attract new audiences and inspire diverse communities with the power of opera and storytelling.

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A freelance writer in Marin who writes about family, kids and parenting, Glass is the mother to one son, one dog and a hamster named Miss Geri. When she’s not writing, trekking up steep hills in Marin or driving her kid to sports practice, she and her family spend time in their tiny cabin in Lake Tahoe. She avidly supports the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much needed services to Bay Area seniors and disabled adults. Glass is obsessed with baking the perfect loaf of banana bread, something she makes so often she no longer needs to look at a recipe card.

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