For the Love of Lyric fills the vocal void for now | Performing Arts Feature | Chicago Reader

For the Love of Lyric fills the vocal void for now 

Renée Fleming and friends offer a free genre-hopping virtual concert.

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click to enlarge Soloman Howard

Soloman Howard

Todd Rosenberg

This weekend, just about the time when—minus the virus—we would have been plopping our posteriors into cushy new seats installed over the summer at the Lyric Opera House and settling in for a double bill of love gone tragically but so operatically wrong (Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci), Lyric is inviting us to boot up the laptop for something cheerier.

For the Love of Lyric is a multigenre, online concert conceived and led by soprano Renée Fleming. It’ll be streaming for the public at 6 PM local time Sunday, with Fleming joined (virtually) by Chicago-based Grammy winner Heather Headley, Ryan Opera Center alumna J’Nai Bridges, sopranos Ailyn Pérez and Julia Bullock, and bass Soloman Howard. It’s free, on the Lyric's YouTube and Facebook pages

The one-hour program includes Headley’s rendition of “Shadowland,” from her Broadway role as Nala in The Lion King; Bullock and Fleming in a long-distance duet; Howard’s rendition of the rousing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and Bridges with the Chicago Children's Choir. The sure-to-be-majestic closer is Aaron Copland’s “The Promise of Living" from The Tender Land, performed by members of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center. Music director and pianist Doug Peck will accompany parts of the program that were filmed on the Lyric stage, an empty house in the background.

To hear opera with even the best of piano accompaniment is to realize how much the orchestra brings to it; we'll be reminded that we're missing the Lyric Opera Orchestra, along with the sterling acoustics inside the opera house and the thrill of in-the-flesh performance.  Still, until we can put our butts in those new seats . . .  v

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