Renée Fleming Unveils Lyric Opera of Chicago’s New Collaboration with Merit School of Music

Collaboration Benefits Teens, Offering New Opera and Musical Theater Solo Voice Major

Lyric Opera of Chicago Creative Consultant – and star soprano – Renée Fleming revealed details of a new collaboration between the world-renowned opera company and Chicago’s Merit School of Music in a media conference at the school on Monday, September 12. This collaboration – part of Lyric’s Renée Fleming Initiative – will benefit teenagers in a new Opera and Musical Theater solo voice major at Merit’s Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory. Other Merit students will also participate in Lyric offerings.

Joining Fleming were Lyric President and CEO Kenneth G. Pigott, who also serves on the Merit board; Lyric General Director Designate Anthony Freud; Ryan Opera Center Director Gianna Rolandi; and Merit President Duffie Adelson.

Since Lyric announced the Renée Fleming Initiative, plans have solidified for the long-term collaboration between Lyric Opera and the highly regarded community music school, which is based on the near-west side of Chicago, less than a mile from the Civic Opera House. Founded in 1979, Merit School of Music is regarded as a principal leader in providing extraordinary music education and life-changing experiences for Chicago-area children through music. Of the more than 6,000 students participating in Merit’s numerous programs, 375 have been selected by audition for Merit’s advanced program, the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory.

“The collaboration between Lyric and Merit School of Music, one of the country’s best community music schools, creates an exciting and extraordinary environment for teens with vocal potential,” said Fleming. As part of the company’s Renée Fleming Initiative, “Lyric will assist Merit in enhancing its vocal program and will make Lyric Opera more accessible to all Merit students.” Fleming’s background is in music education as well as performance; both her parents were high-school vocal music teachers in public schools.


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