Lyric Opera of Chicago

aka Lyric or Lyric Opera   |   Chicago, IL   |  www.lyricopera.org

Mission

Founded in 1954, Lyric Opera of Chicago's mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form. Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Ruling year info

1957

General Director

Mr. Anthony Freud

Main address

20 North Wacker Drive Suite 860 Lyric Opera of Chicago

Chicago, IL 60606 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

36-6008929

NTEE code info

Opera (A6A)

Radio (A34)

Performing Arts Schools (A6E)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020, 2019 and 2018.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

For more than 65 years, Lyric has shared the transformative power of opera with audiences and communities across Chicago. Generation after generation, the arts have played a key role in the growth of our city, the development of our young people, the health of our communities, and the expression of our identity. Opera, the most collaborative of the arts, unites the power of the human voice with the universal languages of music, drama, art, and dance to inspire us, move us, challenge us, and unite us. Opera, like no other art form, and Lyric, as Chicago’s leader in the performing arts, connects Chicagoans of all ages and from every background to each other and to the creative spirit of our city.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Mainstage opera productions

Each season, Lyric Opera of Chicago offers a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known-masterpieces, and new works on the main stage at the Civic Opera House.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Lyric Unlimited is a long-term, evolving initiative that encompasses company activities outside of Lyric’s mainstage season. It was established to provide a relevant cultural service to communities throughout the Chicagoland area, including communities for whom opera and opera companies have been largely irrelevant; to explore a wide range of ways in which Lyric can collaborate with cultural and community organizations throughout the area; and to advance the development of opera, exploring ways in which opera as an art form can resonate more powerfully, and in a range of different ways, with people of multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and interests.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Average dollar price for performance tickets

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Mainstage opera performance average dollar price: Year 2020 average dollar price for performance tickets is drastically lower due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Number of mainstage productions offered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Each season, Lyric presents eight operas and one musical on its mainstage. Year 2020: Due to COVID-19, no mainstage productions were offered. All of Lyric's programming was offered virtually.

Number of policymakers or candidates reached

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of meetings or briefings held with policymakers or candidates

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of participants engaged in programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Year 2020 number of participants engaged in programs increased exponentially due to COVID-19. All programs were free and offered virtually. This number represents viewership of those programs.

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of new donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of donors retained

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of donations made by board members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Average number of dollars received per donor

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Total dollars received in contributions

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Total number of performances

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth

Related Program

Mainstage opera productions

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Context Notes

Year 2020 number of performances is the total number of Lyric's virtual programs.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformative, revelatory power of great opera. Through artistic excellence coupled with innovative, relevant programming, Lyric delivers ever-more exciting, thought-provoking, and inclusive audience and community experiences. Under the leadership of General Director, President & CEO Anthony Freud, Music Director Sir Andrew Davis, Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola, and Special Projects Advisor Renée Fleming, Lyric is committed to leading the advancement of the art form and redefining what it means to experience great opera today.

Each season, Lyric ignites transformation in our community by:
• offering our core product of eight outstanding mainstage operas and one musical theater production each season, attracting some of the most accomplished artists in the world and leveraging the vast talent of Chicago to create art of the absolute highest caliber;
• drawing on more than three decades of experience in Chicago Public Schools to provide vital, high-quality arts education to Chicago’s students through Lyric Unlimited education and community engagement programming;
• building on longstanding relationships and establishing new partnerships within Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods to reach new audiences and create a platform for Chicagoans to share their voices;
• fostering the development of exceptional emerging opera artists through residencies at the internationally renowned Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center; and
• maintaining a position of fiscal stability that will support our steadfast commitment to providing excellent and relevant art in Chicago.

Faced with a rapidly evolving social, political, and cultural climate, Lyric, like many performing arts organizations nationwide, has had to be creative and dynamic in navigating changing consumer and audience behavior in the 21st century. While Lyric still sells more than 23,000 subscription packages per season—one of the largest subscription bases in Chicago and across the field—subscription sales have dramatically decreased in the last 15 years. To address the changing audience landscape, Lyric has worked to right-size program offerings each season, ensuring the optimum number of performances to leverage evolving audience demand.

At the same time, Lyric has created a wide range of new programming to maintain our relevance, increase and diversify our revenue streams, and broaden our civic footprint, resulting in a significant growth in operations. While these opportunities are strengthening relationships with new and existing Lyric audiences and communities across our city, ticket revenue and philanthropic revenue have not been commensurate with the rate of growth in expenditures. To that end, Lyric continues to identify, cultivate, and solicit unrestricted operating support each season to ensure that the core artistic, education, and training activities of our organization can continue at the highest level.

Lyric Unlimited—Learning & Creative Engagement serves approximately 85,000 people each year through programs at the Lyric Opera House and across Chicago. Through arts education and community engagement programming, Lyric Unlimited has built valuable relationships with schools, neighborhood organizations, and local leaders representing communities across Chicago. Through Lyric Unlimited, the company can share the performing arts and the operatic art form in ways that are relevant to the people with whom we seek to collaborate. Through partnerships that form the backbone of Lyric Unlimited programs, we have gained essential insight into the needs and interests of new audiences and communities. At Lyric, it is vital that we engage communities on their terms, not ours, to ensure that Lyric programs provide purposeful and impactful service.

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center was established in 1974 as the professional artist-development program for Lyric Opera of Chicago. Since its inception, the Ryan Opera Center has been recognized as one of the premier programs of its kind in the world, offering the finest emerging singers and pianists unparalleled training and experience. The Ryan Opera Center Ensemble is made up of 12 singers and one pianist. These outstanding artists will perform and understudy dozens of roles in Lyric mainstage productions throughout the season.

With a strong record of fiscal stability, visionary leadership, and a commitment to excellence in artistic and community programming, Lyric is uniquely poised to provide an indispensable cultural service to the greater Chicago area. Each season, eight mainstage opera productions serve as the artistic core of the company, through which Lyric offers its patrons a world-class roster of singers, conductors, directors, designers, choreographers, and dancers in a wide-ranging repertoire. Lyric’s artistic strategy includes presenting a balance of classic and contemporary masterworks, world and company premieres that speak to opera’s relevance today, and programs that welcome new audiences to the art form and deepen the experience of returning opera lovers. For more than six decades, Lyric’s mainstage productions have made a profound impact on the artistic landscape of Chicago, reaching more than 150,000 people each season.

Building upon decades of Lyric programs serving Chicago students, Lyric Unlimited—Learning & Creative Engagement serves as the company’s arts education and community engagement division. With more than one dozen programs that engage Chicagoans of all ages and representing every neighborhood and community, Lyric Unlimited plays an invaluable role in the artistic fabric of our city and ensures the arts are a part of everyday life for every Chicagoan. All programs are offered for free or deeply discounted rates to reduce barriers to participation. Lyric Unlimited programs take place in schools, community venues, and at the historic Lyric Opera House.

Lyric Unlimited has helped Lyric share opera and the performing arts with diverse audiences across Chicago and fostered valuable relationships with schools, neighborhood organizations, and local civic, arts, and business leaders across Chicago. Lyric Unlimited earns the interest of communities for whom opera and opera companies have previously had little relevance, including communities who have often been marginalized by cultural and civic institutions. Relationship building, listening, and collaboration with individuals and organizations throughout the city guides Lyric to engage with communities on their terms, not ours.

The Ryan Opera Center's mission is to foster the next generation of great opera artists at the highest level of performance and creativity. The cornerstone of its training program is the year-round instruction provided by its expert faculty. Faculty members have comprehensive expertise in their respective fields and include superb music, language, and drama coaches. A broad range of music is taught, encompassing styles from opera and art song to musical theater. Ensemble members are also given outstanding performance experience, highlighted by their participation in Lyric's mainstage season. This enables them to put into practice the lessons they have learned from the faculty while working with some of the world's leading singers, conductors, and directors.

For more than six decades, Lyric’s mainstage productions have made a profound impact on the artistic landscape of Chicago, reaching more than 150,000 people each season and sharing the transformative power of opera with audiences and communities across Chicago. Lyric, like nearly every performing arts organization nationwide, faces a rapidly evolving social, political, and cultural climate that impacts every aspect of our existence: our art form, our business model, our collaboration with artists, and our relationship with audiences. To face these challenges and ensure a bright future for Lyric and the art form we steward, we must be creative, dynamic, and self-reflective. Lyric recently undertook several strategic projects to facilitate this self-reflection and evolution. Many of these projects yielded such positive and meaningful results that the company integrated their processes as an ongoing component of Lyric’s day-to-day activity.

Lyric made a significant investment in developing an expanded digital engagement strategy by leveraging existing audio, video, image, and narrative content, and selectively creating targeted new content. Deployment of this significantly enhanced strategy ensures that even during social distancing, our company, the operatic genre, and the performing arts remain a part of everyday life for students, families, and opera fans across Chicago and around the world. Enhanced email communications and social media posts showcase uplifting artistic and educational content related to popular Lyric performances and performers.

Lyric has taken strategic steps to capitalize on our company’s diversification of performance genres offered: our mainstage grand opera and annual musical theatre production, the presentation of an annual chamber opera in a community venue, and the diverse programs presented within our historic Lyric Opera House.

To ensure the company’s ongoing relevance to our audiences, our city, and the national and international opera community, Lyric has a responsibility to ensure that our artistic work, professional practices, and audience engagement efforts truly serve our community. In 2018, Lyric created the IDEA Initiative to develop, implement, and measure our organizational commitment to IDEA: Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility. Lyric is working with its six volunteer boards, including the Board of Directors, to embed IDEA principles into their structures and practices. To ensure that IDEA permeates every part of the institution, Lyric created both an implementation team of departmental leaders and a cross-organizational IDEA Working Group of approximately 30 artists and administrative and artistic staff. This Working Group is tasked with driving actionable, measurable outcomes related to IDEA within Lyric’s everyday function. These groups have helped embed IDEA efforts in the functionality of the company, impacting projects and processes across the organization.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Lyric Opera of Chicago
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Board of directors
as of 9/7/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Chairman David Ormesher

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Term: 2015 -

David Ormesher

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 09/07/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Decline to state
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data