Lyric Opera of Chicago will Showcase Dubuque Native at Heritage Center

Mar 8, 2019

DUBUQUE, Iowa – University of Dubuque Heritage Center will close its sixth season of Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series with “Lyrics Alive,” a cabaret-style recital featuring three singers from the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, on Friday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. in John and Alice Butler Hall.

WHAT:            Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series – “Lyrics Alive” with members of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center

WHEN:            Friday, May 3 – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:          John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque

TICKETS:        Adult $29-$34 advance/$34-$39 day of show; Military and Alumni $24 advance/$29 day of show; Child/Student $10 advance/$15 day of show

“Lyrics Alive” offers audiences a unique opportunity to witness three operatic talents from the Ryan Opera Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s artist development program. Dubuque native and tenor Eric Ferring joins soprano Ann Toomey and baritone Ricardo José Rivera in a diverse program with selections from a variety of genres including opera, Broadway, folk, jazz, and more, with piano accompaniment from fellow Ryan Opera Center member Madeline Slettedahl.

The Ryan Opera Center prepares emerging singers and apprentice coaches for careers in opera by providing unique, comprehensive training.Established in 1974 as the professional artist-development program for Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Ryan Opera Center has been recognized for more than four decades as one of the premier programs of its kind in the world. That standing is maintained by providing the finest up-and-coming singers and pianists with unparalleled training and experience.

Ferring, a 2010 graduate of Dubuque Senior High School, is a first-year Ryan Opera Center member. He received a master of music in opera performance from the Boston Conservatory and a bachelor of music in vocal performance from Drake University. Ferring was a resident artist at Pittsburgh Opera for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons, appearing as Spoletta in Tosca, Basilio and Curzio in The Marriage of Figaro, and Flask in Moby Dick. He also was a 2017 apprentice singer at the Santa Fe Opera where he will return in 2020 for a major role debut. Ferring has been seen at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Wolf Trap Opera, and Seagle Music Colony. In 2015, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis presented Ferring with a career award, given in recognition of his great vocal potential. This past season at Lyric Opera, Ferring performed the Young Servant in Elektra and Giuseppe in La traviata.

“Being a part of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago has been a dream come true. I dreamt many times of being a part of the Ryan Opera Center in my early singing days, and to finally be here after years of hard work is truly magical,” Ferring said.

Ferring is a former voice student of Kristen Eby, assistant professor of music at UD.

“It’s thrilling when a student goes on to such success, and it’s especially exciting for him to come back and share his developed gift with his home community,” Eby said. “Eric was a considerable talent in high school, but he didn’t just rely on his talent to carry him forward. His love for music, hard work, and ability to connect with people have been a key part of his journey.”

Ferring said he is excited to perform in his hometown and share his principal role debut at Lyric Opera with Eby, his first voice teacher, who will be in the audience.

“Without my early training, I would not be where I am today. That training is largely thanks to the generosity, support, and love I received, and continue to receive, from Kristen. Without an extremely smart, talented teacher like Kristen helping pave my path, I would not have the budding international career I’m on the brink of. She isn’t just a teacher you have for a few years, she is a lifelong mentor, teacher, colleague, and friend,” he said.

Toomey, a native of Shelby Township, Michigan, is a third-year Ryan Opera Center member. She was a 2016 national semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Toomey debuted at Lyric Opera as the First Lady in The Magic Flute. In 2018-2019, Toomey sang the Fifth Maid in Elektra

Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico, is a first-year Ryan Opera Center member. He has participated with the American Masters’ of Opera Academy in Moscow and appeared with the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel-Aviv. In 2018-2019, Rivera sang Schaunard in La bohème and Baron Douphol in La traviata at Lyric Opera.

Pianist Madeline Slettedahl, of Seattle, Washington, is a second-year Ryan Opera Center member. She debuted at Carnegie Hall in January 2017. Slettedahl has served on the Lyric Opera music staff for The Pearl Fishers. In 2018-2019, she helped prepare the company’s new production of Siegfried.

Free preshow music will be offered live from the CyberCafé Knapp Stage from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Charles Barland, professor of music at UD, will perform Broadway favorites on the piano.

Tickets for “Lyrics Alive” can be purchased Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Farber Box Office, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque, 2255 Bennett Street; by phone at 563.585.SHOW; or online at