The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the professional artist development program of Lyric Opera of Chicago, announced the 12 singers who have been selected for its 2023/24 ensemble during final auditions held on 20 September at the Ardis Krainik Theatre. Mezzo-sopranos Lucy Baker and Sophia Maekawa, tenor Travon D. Walker and bass-baritone Christopher Humbert, Jr. will join eight returning vocalists from the Ensemble: sopranos Kathryn Henry and Lindsey Reynolds, tenors Ryan Capozzo and Alejandro Luévanos, baritones Laureano Quant and Ian Rucker, and basses Ron Dukes and Wm. Clay Thompson.
Since last spring, more than 400 singers have applied to be considered with video recordings. After extensive review, selected singers were invited to preliminary live auditions throughout the summer, resulting in invitations to a small group to sing on September 20. The final auditions brought together an invited audience of more than 550 Lyric subscribers and donors, who also participated in the voting for the Public’s Choice Award. The prize and $500 cash prize went to soprano Shelén Hughes.
Roger Pines was emcee for the final auditions, and the audience was treated to a performance by soprano Whitney Morrison, a Ryan Opera Center alumnus who, to great acclaim, stepped in at the last minute last season. as Billie in the Lyric production of Fire Locked in My Bones. The judging panel drew inspiration from Lyric executives, including Anthony Freud, Managing Director, President and CEO; musical director Enrique Mazzola; director of artistic administration Matthew Ozawa; Vice President, Art Planning Andreas Melinat; director of artistic programs Cory Lippiello; vice president and director of the Ryan Opera Center Dan Novak; Craig Terry, musical director of the Ryan Opera Center; and Julia Faulkner, director of vocal studies at the Ryan Opera Center. The panel also included Lyric casting consultant Evamaria Wieser. Piano accompaniment for the final auditions was provided by Laurann Gilley, Noah Lindquist and current Ensemble member Donald Lee III.
The singers of the 2023/24 Ensemble take office in the spring of 2023 and will receive advanced training in many aspects of operatic performance, including singing and language lessons, training in movement and acting. and master classes with some of opera’s most renowned artists. They will also participate in the main season of Lyric, performing and dubbing a variety of roles, in addition to performing in concerts and recitals at the Ryan Opera Center throughout the Chicago community.
Current members of the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble leaving at the end of the 2022/23 season are soprano Denis Vélez, mezzo-soprano Katherine DeYoung and tenors Martin Luther Clark and Lunga Eric Hallam.
The Ryan Opera Center final auditions are generously made possible by title sponsor Philip G. Lumpkin. Finalist airfare is generously provided by American Airlines, official airline of Lyric Opera of Chicago.
2023/24 Ryan Opera Center Singers Ensemble
Kathryn Henry (Sheboygan, Wis.)
Lindsey Reynolds (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Lucy Baker (Wilmington, North Carolina)
Sophia Maekawa (Kyoto, Japan)
Ryan Capozzo (Huntington, New York)
Alejandro Luevanos (Durango, Mexico)
Travon D. Walker (Hinesville, Georgia)
Laureano Quant (Barranquilla, Colombia)
Ian Rucker (Oshkosh, Wis.)
Christopher Humbert, Jr. (Akron, Ohio)
Ron Dukes (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Wm. Clay Thompson (Lexington, Kentucky)