The mission of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is to provide comprehensive, year-round education and performance opportunities to some of the nation's most outstanding young singers, facilitating their transition from academic training to a successful opera career. The Ryan Opera Center was established as the professional artist-development program for Lyric Opera of Chicago, and has since been recognized as one of the premier programs of its kind in the world. Selected from some 400 international singers who audition annually, the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members are generally in residence for two years. The 11 to 13 singers receive advanced instruction in numerous aspects of operatic performance, including voice lessons and coachings, language and acting training, and master classes throughout the year. During Lyric’s mainstage season, they perform and understudy roles at all levels and gain valuable performing experience by participating in concerts at many Chicago-area venues.
The goals of the Ryan Opera Center are to: 1.) Provide comprehensive, year-round opera instruction by world-class faculty to nurture the superb vocal skills and dramatic capabilities of some of the nation’s most promising opera singers; 2.) Offer significant performance opportunities, mentorship by master artists, and career guidance to the singers-in-training; 3.) Coordinate Opera in the Neighborhoods, Lyric Opera’s arts-enrichment program for young Illinoisans, and other community-engagement initiatives; and 4.) Present and perform concerts to enhance Ensemble members’ performance skills and increase the public’s active involvement in Ryan Opera Center programming.
Under the leadership of Director Gianna Rolandi, the program aims to produce the next generation of great opera artists at the highest level of performance and creativity. The cornerstone of the Ryan Opera Center’s training program is the year-long instruction provided by its expert faculty. A broad range of music is taught – from opera to musical theater to art song. Guest master teachers have included some of the world’s finest operatic artists: David Daniels, Renée Fleming, Nathan Gunn, Frank Lopardo, Sondra Radvanovsky, and Renata Scotto.
Students are given outstanding performance experience, highlighted by their assignments to sing and understudy roles of all levels for Lyric Opera’s mainstage season. This enables them to put into practice what they have learned from the faculty while at the same time working with leading singers, conductors, and directors at the highest international level. This invaluable training prepares Ryan Opera Center singers to launch successful opera careers.