From: Lisa Middleton, Vice President, Marketing & Communications  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 


Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the Midwest premiere of
An American Dream

Two Performances, March 15 & 17 at the Harris Theater
CHICAGO (2/13/2019) Lyric Opera of Chicago is thrilled to present the Midwest premiere of An American Dream, the powerful and innovative new chamber opera by composer Jack Perla (Shalimar the Clown, Jonah & the Whale, River of Light) and librettist Jessica Murphy Moo. An American Dream uses the art form of opera to document and honor the WWII-era Japanese Americans who fell victim to persecution in the name of "safety"— conveying messages that are especially relevant today. 

Sung in English with projected English texts, An American Dream is presented by Lyric Unlimited, Lyric’s education and community engagement arm. An American Dream will have two performances, March 15 and 17, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (205 E Randolph Street). The intimate, one-hour production is presented without an intermission. It features a cast of seven and a 15-piece orchestra comprised of members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. A free, pre-performance talk begins one hour before curtain, and the performances will be followed by an interactive audience discussion. Tickets are on sale now at or by calling 312.827.5600.

The production is the latest in Lyric Unlimited’s chamber opera series that has included critically acclaimed productions such as Fellow Travelers (2018), Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD (2017), and The Property (2015).

This emotional and introspective opera explores the lives of persecutors and the persecuted in WWII America. Jim Crowley, an American veteran, takes advantage of Makoto Kobayashi, a Japanese American who is forced to sell his home for pennies on the dollar when the government begins incarcerating American citizens of Japanese descent. Jim’s wife Eva — from whom he hides the truth about his misdeed — is a German-American immigrant who escaped the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany, and worries about her family still in harm's way overseas. The pain that the Kobayashi family is forced to go through, the turmoil that Eva deals with and the sin that Jim hides eventually converge in this powerful and heartbreaking story. The characters in An American Dream are fictional, but the pain and cruelty depicted are based on real-life accounts.

Mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin portrays Eva Crowley with baritone Christopher Magiera as her husband, Jim Crowley; soprano So Young Park is the young Setsuko Kobayashi; mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen plays the mother Hiroko Kobayashi, and bass-baritone Ao Li portrays the father Makoto Kobayashi. Director Matthew Ozawa (Nabucco/Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madama Butterfly/Santa Fe Opera, An American Soldier/Opera Theatre of St Louis) and conductor Daniela Candillari (Fellow Travelers/Lyric Opera of Chicago) will take audiences through this emotional and insightful production. The new production features a set designed by Andrew Boyce, costumes by Izumi Inaba, and lighting by Lee Fiskness.

An American Dream also continues Lyric Unlimited’s goal of bringing contemporary, thought-provoking, English-language operas to Chicago audiences— especially audiences who may be new to the art form. This recent chamber work by composer Jack Perla and librettist Jessica Murphy Moo was originally commissioned by the Seattle Opera as an outgrowth of an innovative storytelling project. Seattle Opera asked its audience members, "If you had to leave your home today and couldn’t return, what would you want to take with you?" Then, drawing inspiration from the answers they received, real-life accounts from U.S. history, and their extensive experience as musicians and storytellers, Perla and Moo wrote the incredibly powerful story of two families forced to deal with the turmoil and pain of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans.

Audiences and critics alike have marveled at how the powerful messages of the opera are paired with the production’s beautiful music and libretto. According to the Music Critics Association of America, An American Dream "is a prime example of ‘people’s music’ that tackles a formerly uncomfortable subject with honesty." The Seattle Times described the opera as "a gripping piece of musical theater."

For Lyric Unlimited’s Chicago premiere of An American Dream, audiences can experience more than just a performance. Lyric is teaming up with organizations including the Japanese American Service Center, and the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, among others, to host multiple ancillary talks, discussions, and events to complement the performances of An American Dream. Events will include a storytelling workshop bringing life to objects that represented home during traumatic times; and a panel featuring policy experts and artisans discussing art as an archive for social injustice. Powerful images of Japanese American incarceration during WWII, on loan from the Alphawood Foundation’s acclaimed photography exhibit Then They Came For Me, will be on display in the lobby of the Harris Theater during the show’s run. Locations, times and details of all An American Dream ancillary programs and activities are available at

Lyric Unlimited will present a free dress rehearsal of An American Dream for high school students and is partnering with cultural organizations throughout the city to ensure that as many students and people of different heritages, backgrounds, and cultures as possible see this important production.

Tickets ($35 - $125) for An American Dream are available by visiting or by calling 312-827-5600.
From: Lisa Middleton, Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Holly H. Gilson
Senior Director, Communications

Magda Krance
Director of Media Relations

Nathaniel Hamilton
Public Relations



About Lyric Unlimited

Lyric Unlimited is a long-term, evolving initiative that encompasses company activities that are not part of Lyric’s mainstage opera season. Its mission is to provide a relevant cultural service to communities throughout the Chicago area and to advance the development of opera by exploring how opera as an art form can resonate more powerfully with people of multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and interests. It also leads the development of innovative partnerships with a wide range of cultural, community, and educational organizations to create a breadth of programming through which Chicagoans of all ages can connect with Lyric. In the 2017/18 season, more than 95,000 individuals participated in Lyric Unlimited programs.

For more information about Lyric Unlimited program offerings, visit

About Lyric

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.

To learn more about Lyric’s current season, go to You can also join the conversation with @LyricOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #Lyric1819 #LongLivePassion

Photo: Philip Newton/Seattle Opera

An American Dream: music by Jack Perla and libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo. Commissioned by Seattle Opera.

Lyric Unlimited premiere of Perla’s An American Dream generously made possible by Lead Sponsor The Wallace Foundation and cosponsors the Lester S. Abelson Foundation/
Katherine A. Abelson, Baker & McKenzie, Nix Lauridsen and Virginia Croskery Lauridsen, Lauter McDougal Charitable Fund, the Seymour H. Persky Charitable Trust, Mary Stowell, Eric and Deb Hirschfield, Mary Patricia Gannon, Kenneth R. Norgan, and the Eisen Family Foundation.

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