One of the top American opera companies, the Lyric attracts the very best singers in the world for its lavish productions. Talented musicians and performers satisfy opera devotees, while newcomers are often swept away by all the grandeur (English supertitles make it easy to follow the action). Opening night in September remains the quasi-official kickoff of the Chicago social season, but don't be scared off by the snooty factor; audiences here are relatively casual (to the dismay of all those opera snobs). The company has a strong commitment to new American works (the Metropolitan Opera picked up the Lyric's production of A View from the Bridge, based on the Arthur Miller play).
The Lyric Opera performs in the handsome 3,563-seat Art Deco Civic Opera House, the second-largest opera house in the country, built in 1929. If you're sitting in one of the upper balconies, you'll definitely want to bring binoculars (if you're nice, the regulars sitting nearby may lend you theirs). There's only one problem with catching a show at the Lyric: The season, which runs through early March, usually sells out, although single tickets are sometimes available a few months in advance. Your other option is to call the day of a performance, when you can sometimes buy tickets that subscribers have turned in.
If you're in town in February or March, you can check out the theater by taking a tour (offered only during those months; call tel. 312/827-5685). The opera has an adjunct, the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, which in spring and summer performs in smaller venues around town.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010