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Lyric Opera Hits All the Right Notes

By Jake Levin

Magda Krance didn't mince words when asked to describe the experience for someone looking to attend a show at Lyric Opera of Chicago. She nearly ran out of superlatives to describe the 3,500-seat opera house, where she's works as the manager of media relations.

"Exciting, awe-inspiring, moving, romantic, passionate, fancy, fun, and revelatory are a just few of the words that come to mind," Krance said. "The building is historic and beautiful. When you walk through the doors and take in the grandeur of the Art Deco/Art Nouveau foyer, you feel that you've entered a special place."

Founded in 1954 as the Lyric Theater of Chicago by a group consisting of Carol Fox, Lawrence V. Kelly and Nicola Rescigno, the company took its current name for the 1956 theater season under the guidance of Fox. The original vision of the company was to fill the void in the Chicagoland opera market, which had seen several failed ventures through the years.

Photo by Todd Rosenberg from the production of My Fair Lady.

Krance said that the special feeling sets in as soon as you enter the Lyric Opera house, with the lights beginning to dim and the overture setting the mood further. Novices to the opera will have little trouble adjusting thanks to the presence of an English translator located above the stage, but may be a bit shocked, if not flat out floored, about singers the themselves.

"First-time visitors will also be astonished to realize that the singers aren't amplified," Krance said. "[Not] even with a 75-piece orchestra."

Krance made note of the elaborate costumes, wigs, sets, and lighting which enhance the storytelling experience, and also pointed out there could be dance elements in the show.

Photo by Todd Rosenberg from the production of My Fair Lady.

"It's a terrific sensory and emotional experience that enables visitors to leave their daily lives and concerns behind for a few hours," she said.

The American classic My Fair Lady is currently in production at Lyric Opera. There are many incarnations of the show, including an Oscar-winning movie and a Tony-winning Broadway show. The cast at Lyric will include Richard E. Grant, Lisa O'Hare, Bryce Pinkham, Donald Maxwell and Nicholas Le Prevost.

"As Variety has declared, 'My Fair Lady was the Hamilton of its day!' Krance said. "Participation by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus ensure an exceptional and revelatory musical experience."

The Opera is at 20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 860 in Chicago, and the ticket office can be reached by phone at 312-827-5600.

Visit online at Lyric Opera online

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