Making Opera Pay, the Chicago Way

At the Lyric, director Ardis Krainik thrills audiences and balances the budget

LITTLE MORE THAN A DECADE ago, opera in the U.S. was regarded by many as an outdated European cultural import that held little relevance for contemporary Americans. Beset by high production costs, disastrous deficits, a declining talent pool and a static, aging repertory, American opera companies seemed to be the dinosaurs of arts organizations. In the past few years, however, a string of important and popular new works by composers as disparate as John Corigliano, Philip Glass and William Bolcom has helped improve opera's artistic fortunes. At the same time, audacious native-born stage directors like Peter Sellars and Francesca Zambello have...

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