An Opera Lover’s Fantasy


    By Megan McKinney


Imagine spending a Sunday afternoon enjoying the final performance of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s critically acclaimed American epic Moby Dick and, immediately, being swept down with fellow opera lovers to the historic Blackstone Hotel for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a great dinner, festivities—and more opera!


The Chicago Opera Theater Gala at the Blackstone Hotel

The Chicago Opera Theater Gala at the Blackstone Hotel.


The 2019 entertainment-packed Chicago Opera Theater Gala not only featured Denise McGowan Tracy, host of Petterino’s Monday Night Live, it also honored the Chicago Tribune’s classical music writer John von Rhein and then presented Grand Illusion, a short original work by composer Stacy Garrop and librettist Jerre Dye.



Gala Host Denise McGowan Tracy

Gala Host Denise McGowan Tracy.


Opera Company Officials 

Chicago Opera Theater Music Director Lidiya Yankovskay

Chicago Opera Theater Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya, left, with General Director Ashley Magnus.



Special Honoree John von Rhein, whose more than four decades as the classical music critic for the Chicago Tribune, “has highlighted the importance of classical music to Chicago’s identity, to classical music and the cultural conversation in Chicago.”


John von Rhein and Ashley Magnus.


Jake Heggie, John von Rhein and Lidiya Yankovskaya.


And More Opera!

Chicago Opera Theater Photo

Chicago Opera Theater Young Artists Soprano Samantha Schmid and Baritone John Mathieu performing from the short opera Grand Illusion.


Group Of Young Artists

Young Artists performing from Grand Illusion, Mezzo-soprano Emma Ritter and Bass-Baritone Ryan Stoll.


Emma Ritter and Ryan Stoll.

On balcony, Emma Ritter and Ryan Stoll.

Below, John Mathieu, Samantha Schmid, Composer Stacy Garrop, Librettist Jerre Dye and Director Amy Hutchison.


Ryan Stoll and Brianna Meese

 Ryan Stoll and Brianna Meese.


Jerre Dye, Stacy Garrop and Joe Fancavilla

Jerre Dye, Stacy Garrop and Joe Fancavilla.


Jake Heggie and Ashley Magnus Photo

Chicago Opera Theater Education Director Linden Christ, Jake Heggie and Ashley Magnus.


Chicago Opera Theater staff

Chicago Opera Theater staff.


Photo Credit:   Eric Kirkes

Author Photo:  Robert F. Carl