Lyric Opera of Chicago receives $2 million Mellon grant for new outreach project

July 11, 2012

Anthony Freud. Photo: Dan Rest

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $2 million grant to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to support “expanded community engagement and new artistic initiatives.”

Part of the gift will launch Lyric Unlimited, a company project focused on bringing opera to nontraditional audiences, details of which will be rolled out in coming months. Some of the grant will also be used to support the company’s commission of Bel Canto, to be premiered in the 2015-16 season.

While details were few in the Lyric Opera’s press release, general director Anthony Freud said in a released statement that Lyric Unlimited “will encompass company activities that are not part of Lyric’s mainstage season. It will comprise both large- and small-scale programs and performances that will take place both in and away from the opera house.”

Freud added that the gift is a “terrific vote of confidence” from the Mellon Foundation, which also provided key support for the company’s “American Horizons” initiative, a project that commissioned or presented several American operas at the company.

“We are deeply grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its longstanding commitment to new work, as demonstrated by its support of our upcoming world premiere, Bel Canto,” stated Freud, “and for taking a leadership role in fostering and endorsing Lyric’s plan to serve a wider public.”

The company also announced the appointment of Cayenne Harris as director of Lyric Unlimited. Harris previously served as director for new initiatives at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where she helped develop the CSO’s Citizen Musician program.

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