Photo by Cory Weaver. Everest, 2018.

Explorations Series

The Explorations series began in the 2016-17 season as a new initiative for Lyric Opera. The intimacy of our Explorations series performances creates a new kind of experience for audiences, and showcases talented singers and guest artists. Hospitality for all Explorations series performances is provided by Kansas City Lyric Opera Guild.

The Explorations series is sponsored by Spencer Fane, Virginia & Charles Clark, and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund at Lyric Opera of Kansas City. 

Past Explorations Series Performances:

2019-20 Explorations Series

  • “…When there are nine.” (Jan. 2020)
    With a title inspired by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s quip about an all-female Supreme Court, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote. The centerpiece of the program is the world premiere of a new song cycle by Laura Karpman and Kelley Rourke, using the writings and poetry of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. This inspirational and celebratory program will also feature music about identity, aspiration, and equality.
  • Cabaret: In the Mood for Love (Feb. 2020)
    Back by popular demand: our Resident and Apprentice Artists celebrate the many moods of love with music of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, and more. Mark Markham returns as arranger/pianist, and Fenlon Lamb returns to direct an all-new, intimate evening of Cabaret.

2018-19 Explorations Series

  • High Fidelity Opera (Nov. 2018)
    Enter the “theater of the mind” and explore the sights and sounds of the golden age of radio, when our Resident Artists perform a duo of popular American radio operas by Menotti and Barber, plus sound effects performed by the singers. Conducted by Carolyn Watson; directed by Edward Berkeley.
  •  Mack the Knife is The Man I Love (Feb. 2019)
     Enjoy a slate of standards, such as “I Got Rhythm,” “Summertime,” “September Song,” and “Mack the Knife,” in a cabaret setting that promises to chase away the winter blues.
  • Penelope (Mar. 2019)
    What happens when a soldier finally comes home—but remembers nothing? This groundbreaking song cycle, based on The Odyssey but told from Penelope’s point of view, was named one of the five best genre-defying works in 2010 by National Public Radio. A meditation on the trauma of war, memory, and home, Penelope is sure to be touching, intimate, and dramatic.

2017-18 Explorations Series

  • Meet the Resident Artists (Sept. 2017)
    Join us for an informal afternoon ‘salon’ to meet Lyric Opera’s talented 2017-2018 Resident Artists! Through conversation and musical selections including arias, art songs and show tunes, sneak a first peek at the quartet and pianist whom you will see onstage and at our Explorations Series presentations throughout the season.
  • The Bernstein Songbook (Oct. 2017)
    The creators of last year’s brilliant Schubert | Beatles program, the New York Festival of Song, now bring us The Bernstein Songbook. This special second collaboration with Lyric Opera of Kansas City focuses on the remarkable musical output of the iconic Maestro, Leonard Bernstein, in celebration of the centennial of his birth.  The program will include Bernstein’s final song cycle, Arias and Barcarolles, along with other favorites and rarities, and will bring fascinating insights into one of the 20th Century’s American musical legends
  • As One (Jan. 2018)
    In this chamber opera for two singers and string quartet, by composer Laura Kaminsky and co-librettists Mark Campbell and filmmaker Kimberly Reed, a mezzo-soprano and a baritone depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her self and the outside world. The New York Observer says “As One is everything we hope for in a contemporary opera: topical, poignant, daring, and beautifully written.”
  • American Voices (Mar. 2018)
    The American Voices program showcases art songs by prominent American composers, past and present. Featured selections include songs by Amy Beach, Charles Ives, Jake Heggie, and others, anchored by Samuel Barber’s suite Hermit Songs, which was premiered by the great Leontyne Price at a Library of Congress recital in 1953 with the composer at the piano. Also on the program are several songs by Juliana Hall, on texts by Carl Sandburg and Edna St. Vincent Millay, as well as John Daniels Carter’s Cantata, which uses texts from traditional spirituals “Ride On, King Jesus,” “Let Us Break Bread Together” and others.

2016-17 Explorations Series

  • Meet the Resident Artists (Sept. 2016)
    Meet Lyric Opera’s first class of Resident Artists as they showcase some of their favorite pieces from the operatic repertoire. Our Resident Artists will fill the Michael and Ginger Frost Production Center with their voices and their personalities.
  • Schubert|Beatles (Oct. 2016)
    This fascinating program combines Schubert Lieder with special arrangements of songs by the Beatles in a format that showcases their similarities and differences.  Pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, along with violinist Charles Yang, soprano Sari Gruber, tenor Andrew Owens and baritone Theo Hoffman, explore the music and the connections between these iconic artists, who captured the spirit of their age.  The program is a collaboration with the New York Festival of Song, with its vision of reinventing the classical solo song recital as an experience of musical discovery, presenting familiar repertory in contexts that allow us to hear it in a new way.
  • Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters (Jan. 2017)
    Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters were written in 1992 and recorded by the artist himself, together with the Brodsky Quartet. A collection of songs for voice and string quartet, with a few quartet-only interludes, they had an unusual inspiration: Costello heard that the lovelorn actually write letters to Shakespeare’s Juliet and leave them at her supposed ‘balcony’ in Verona, Italy.  Costello came up with his own stylized “letters” and set them to music, using the idea as a platform for the exploration of young love. Musically the material lies somewhere between that of his pop albums and his Shakespearean orchestral ballet Il Sogno of 2004, a more purely “classical” work. Elvis Costello’s emotional and poignant renderings of some of these letters became the song cycle The Juliet Letters.  Rolling Stone stated, “While a project as ambitious as The Juliet Letters might have wound up mired in sentimentality and pretension, the singer and his collaborators have created something that is as accomplished as it is moving.”
  • Art Song Series: American Voices (Mar. 2017)
    Lyric Opera’s Resident Artists will close the first season of Explorations as they started it – with an intimate concert experience designed for you to get to know them further as artists. This time they’ll be singing some of their favorite song cycles by American composers, with selections from among the compositions of Jake Heggie (composer of the opera Dead Man Walking, a Lyric Opera 2016-17 season production), Lori Laitman, Robert Paterson, and Gabriel Kahane, and others.

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