Lyric Opera of Chicago Creates a New Way to Reach Their Audience

Lyric Orchestra, "Ride of the Valkyries"

Lyric Opera of Chicago has managed this period of  suspended animation brought about by the Covid-19 Pandemic by maintaining engagement with subscribers, single-ticket buyers, sponsors, and other constituents with a variety of e-newsletters, blog posts, social media posts, YouTube videos, and more. A weekly newsletter that links to the Lyric Lately blog has material to reach all ages. Here are several weeks worth of articles, videos, and images, including many pertaining to the canceled Ring cycle. Several members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra gathered virtually to perform the “Ride of the Valkyries,” and also offered an exploration of the specialized brass instruments devised by Wagner for the Ring.

Don Giovanni photo (from Lyric’s 2019/20 production, with Lucas Meacham as Don Giovanni) (PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Flubacker)

Marianna Moroz, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Public Relations Manager explains how this developed.

After Chicago received the stay-at-home order mid-March, and Lyric made the decision to cancel our Ring cycle and then the rest of the 19/20 season, our company and more importantly our patrons were devastated. As in-person engagement moved online, we decided immediately that this shift must be a time for Lyric to push beyond just providing entertainment, but to really deepen our relationships with our audience and truly serve them during an extremely difficult time. We’ve re-focused our efforts on sending two emails a week to our patrons – one on Tuesday (to everyone in our emails lists) and one on Friday (focused on our donors and subscribers). We send a mixture of past blogs, video excerpts of our operas and musicals, external articles, quotes and more. We’ve also sent personal emails to our donors, partners and more to just check-in on how people are and what they need. On top of our emails, we’ve amped up our social media to strengthen relationships with a wider population, to reach friends around the world that we may not have otherwise. We are devoted to creating art through these newsletters, our blog, and our social media – art that can stand on its own. We’ve received incredible support and feedback from our patrons on these forms of communication, particularly with our Ryan Opera Center from Home video series, our Wednesday Wisdom quotes, our partnership with the Shedd Aquarium, and our Lyric Orchestra’s at-home recording of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”. Our recent launch of Lyric Kids Corner has also allowed us to deepen our relationship with our school partners, cultural partners, families, and students to provide at-home learning and fun. We’ve been able to measure our communications very effectively, and in doing so, continue to refine and tailor what we are sharing each with, based on what our audience wants and enjoys. While it’s been difficult to not be able to welcome our audiences through our Lyric Opera House doors, we’ve been overwhelmed by the support that our efforts to stay connected have brought. We know lots of things will have to change once we are back and performing, including the ways we communicate and engage with our audiences. Lyric is committed to strengthening our relationships with our donors, subscribers, one-time ticket buyers, partners, and newcomers – now and in the future.

Ryan Opera Center from Home
Kid’s Corner

In addition, from Saturday, June 6, and continuing every Saturday through July 25, broadcasts of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s opening night performances from the 2017/18 Season will be heard locally on WFMT 98.7FM, online at wfmt.com/listen, and on radio stations across the country via The WFMT Radio Network. Lyric’s dramaturg Roger Pines and WFMT’s Lisa Flynn host.

Local broadcasts on WFMT of the following opera performances begin at 12:00 noon/CDT on Saturdays:

June 6:     Così fan tutte/Mozart (sung in Italian)
June 13:   Turandot/Puccini (sung in Italian)
June 20:   Rigoletto/Verdi (sung in Italian)
June 27:   The Pearl Fishers/Bizet (sung in French)
July 4:      Die Walküre/Wagner (sung in German)
July 11:    Faust/Gounod (sung in French)
July 18:    Orphée et Eurydice/Gluck (sung in French)
July 25:    I puritani/Bellini (sung in Italian)

Broadcast times and dates outside the Chicago area may vary; please check local listings.

Daniel Goldberg is the producer for The Lyric Opera of Chicago Broadcasts.
David Polk was the executive producer for this series. 
George Preston is general manager of WFMT.

Rigoletto photo (from Lyric’s 2017/19 production, with Matthew Polenzani as the Duke of Mantua) (PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Rosenberg)

Photos: Courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago unless noted otherwise.

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