While riding the Brown line last month, I had a most delightful surprise. “Delightful surprise” are two words that are rarely associated with the CTA. As the train left Chicago Avenue heading south, my eyes caught a giant image of opera star, Renee Fleming, on the side of a River North building asking, “When Was the Last Time You Cried at a Cubist Exhibition?.” I did a double-take and then had a good laugh at the tongue-in-cheek dig at the Art Institute and MCA.
Renee had a point. It is one that Lyric Opera began pressing home this September in a series of images plastered extensively throughout Chicago on billboards, buildings and bus shelters. The images mainly feature Fleming and music director Andrew Davis making equally provocative statements. The tag line on all the messages is “Long Live Passion”.
As much as “Tales of Hoffman,” “The Magic Flute” and “Aida,” Lyric this season is promoting passion. And why not? While opera-goers feel passionate about Lyric and the art form, that is not the way opera plays on the street and among most young Chicagoans.
Ask them what their impression of opera is and their replies will probably be some version of “stuffy,” “boring,” “for rich people,” and “not for me.” Well, the “Long Live Passion” campaign is out to change that and give Lyric a more contemporary, inviting image.
What are the tales of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Boris Godunov,” “Madame Butterfly,” “La Boheme” and “Faust” to limit the list to five choices but timeless stories of man’s insatiable lust for power and passion? Lyric, in recent seasons, has also opened itself to staging newer repertoire, like “Candide,” “Porgy and Bess,” and this season’s “Showboat” that pay tribute to crowd-pleasing compositions that can arguably be ranked as 20th Century American operettas.
With this ad campaign, Lyric is moving forcefully to attract a larger audience—youth and adult—to the magic of live opera. To feel moved, to cry, cheer, even be changed by what they see and hear. Here’s to its success! Visit: www.LyricOpera.org