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Lyric Unlimited announces an opera for young people: Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt
Source: Lyric Opera of Chicago
12/09/2018

Lyric Unlimited, the branch of Lyric Opera devoted to education, community engagement, and new artistic initiatives, is excited to announce its latest opera for young people, Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt. Created especially for children 7-12 and their families by composer John Musto and librettist/director Eric Einhorn, this operatic adventure explores the crossroads of science and creativity from a child’s perspective. 

Tickets, which range from $10-20, are on sale now for four performances that will take place at Francis W. Parker School, (2233 N. Clark, Chicago) on Saturday, November 10 and Sunday, November 11 at 2 and 4pm. The cast of four singers will be accompanied by piano, flute, and clarinet, and the 40-minute production will be presented in English. For tickets and additional information, visit www.lyricopera.org/rhoda. 

Based on a true story, Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt reimagines the legendary paleontologist Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, famous natural artist Charles R. Knight, and Knight’s young granddaughter Rhoda. In the early 20th century, Knight was tasked with bringing the fossils housed at the American Museum of Natural History to life for visitors. Through his detailed paintings, he took viewers millions of years back in time to see dinosaurs as active creatures instead of just fossilized skeletons. When Rhoda accompanies her grandfather to the museum, she is awestruck by these exciting fossils and the lifelike images he creates.

In the opera, we join Rhoda at the museum as she goes on a hunt for the missing fossils of a newly discovered dinosaur. With the help of a friendly Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and a cavewoman, she uncovers clues about the past and learns about the exciting connection between art, creativity, history, and science.

Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt features soprano Boya Wei as Rhoda, baritone Nicholas Ward as Charles R. Knight, tenor Aaron Short as Dr. Henry Osborn, and mezzo-soprano Leah Dexter as the Cavewoman/Tyrannosaurus Rex. Costumes are by Summer Lee Jack, sets are by Arnel Sancianco, prop designs are by Kathryn Johnson, and puppet designs and fabrications are by Brandon Kirkham. The instrumentalists are Leslie Grimm (clarinet and bass clarinet), Eliza Bangert (flute), and Beilin Han (piano and music supervisor). Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt is a co-production with On-Site Opera and the Pittsburgh Opera.  This extended edition of the opera was commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Prior to the public performances at the Francis W. Parker School, Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt will be presented for student groups in and around Chicago as part of Lyric Unlimited’s Opera in the Neighborhoods (OIN) program. In existence for 22 years, OIN will be presented in 30 performances at 15 sites this October and November, sharing Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt with nearly 20,000 students.

“Lyric Unlimited is excited to present this new opera, created especially for families with children ages 7 to 12, following on the heels of last season’s opera for families, The Scorpions’ Sting. Introducing children to the art form of opera using a story that is relevant to today’s audiences is an important part of our mission,” said Cayenne Harris, Vice President of Lyric Unlimited.

Families should also save the date for Lyric Unlimited’s second annual Family Day at Lyric, taking place Saturday, April 6 at the Lyric Opera House from 11am – 3pm. The exploratory day will include a tour of the orchestra pit or props area, hands-on demonstrations of operatic stagecraft, and costume try-ons. Click here for more information and to reserve your tickets.  

BIOS 

John Musto (Music), a composer and pianist whose work is both critically acclaimed and widely performed, has also distinguished himself as an instrumental soloist and chamber musician. His activities encompass virtually every genre: orchestral and operatic, solo, chamber and vocal music, concerti, and music for film and television. His music embraces many strains of contemporary American concert music, enriched by sophisticated inspirations from jazz, ragtime, and the blues. These qualities lend a strong profile to his vocal music, which ranges from a series of operas – Volpone, Later the Same Evening, Bastianello, and The Inspector – to a catalogue of art songs that is among the finest of any living American composer. He performs frequently with his wife, soprano Amy Burton, in recital and cabaret. Musto was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his orchestral song cycle Dove Sta Amore, and is a recipient of two Emmy awards, two CINE Awards, a Rockefeller Fellowship at Bellagio, an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, and a Distinguished Alumnus award from the Manhattan School of Music. He is currently on the piano faculty of the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, where he also serves as coordinator of the D.M.A. Program in Music Performance.

Eric Einhorn (Libretto) has been praised by The Austin Chronicle as “a rising star in the opera world” and by Opera News for his “keen eye for detail and character insight.” He is the cofounder of On Site Opera, a company dedicated to immersive, site-specific productions. Einhorn has directed productions for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Glimmerglass Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Florentine Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Utah Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, the Pacific Symphony, and Gotham Chamber Opera. He has been a member of the stage directing staff at the Metropolitan Opera since 2005. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named Einhorn’s production of Dialogues des CarmeĢlites for Pittsburgh Opera one of the top ten classical music performances of 2011. He originally created the production for Austin Lyric Opera in 2009 and was awarded “Best Opera” at the Austin Critics’ Table Awards in addition to garnering him a nomination for “Best Director.” During the summer of 2014, he directed Rameau’s Pygmalion at Madame Tussauds New York and the Lifestyle-Trimco mannequin showroom. This production featured the world’s first implementation of supertitles for Google Glass.

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