Lyric Theatre @ Illinois

Comprehensive training for the singing actor

Nathan Gunn, General Director
Julie Jordan Gunn, Director of Lyric Theatre Studies
Sarah Wigley Johnson, Musical Theatre Coordinator
Michael Tilley, Musical Administrator

Dawn Harris, Resident Director

Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, Dance at Illinois liaison
Tom Mitchell, Department of Theatre liaison


Archive Newsletter

Lyric Theatre @ Illinois is a comprehensive program embracing a broad continuum of opera and musical theatre to reflect the artistic demands of the 21st-century musical stage, on which performers must exhibit the highest standards of singing, acting and movement.

Laurent Gasquet Photography

The Lyric Theatre Program mounts three fully staged productions of musical theatre and opera each year, performed in our outstanding opera house at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the Tryon Festival Theatre, and several studio, scenes, and workshop programs.

The student has additional performance opportunities in Studio where scenes and shorter works are presented to teach acting, movement, and role preparation. Studio offers performance opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, in a wide range of styles, from classical musical theatre to bel canto opera, from contemporary to Baroque. We emphasize vocal and physical health. Champaign-Urbana is home to many practitioners of the Alexander Technique, in which dancers, actors, and musicians are taught individually and in groups.

Illinois boasts one of the best performing arts libraries in the world, superb academic resources, and the world-class Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, which has hosted dozens of internationally renowned performers, including Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, and Frederica von Stade.

Alumni include Nathan Gunn, Jerry Hadley, Erie Mills, Kallen Esperian, Eric Halfvarson, Craig Rutenberg, and current members of the young artists' programs at San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, and more.

What can an undergraduate studying lyric theatre at Illinois expect?


-to perform regularly
-to have opportunities to sing a variety of styles of music
-to be taught to use the body and voice in a healthy manner
-to learn from dedicated teachers and top industry professionals
-to receive excellent career advice suited to his or her talents
-to be in a friendly, supportive environment with opportunities to engage with the professional world

The UI School of Music is proud to have hosted many world-class artists, teachers, and opera directors for master classes and residencies.

 They include Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano; Daniel Catán, composer; Richard Croft, tenor; Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano; Brian Dickie, Chicago Opera Theater; Elizabeth Futral, soprano; Ricky Ian Gordon, composer; Nancy Gustafson, Castleton Festival; Jake Heggie, composer; Ursula K. Le Guin, novelist; Matthew Polenzani, tenor; Caroline Woodfield, Opus 3 Artists' Management; Isabel Leonard, Lucy Shaufer, and Francesca Zambello, Washington National Opera and Glimmerglass Opera.

Photo: Isabel Leonard with U of I students Alexandra Nowakowski and Cassandra Jackson.

For Prospective Students


School of Music


Dance at Illinois

Department of Theatre

2015-2016 Season


Béatrice et Bénédict (Much Ado About Nothing)
November 5-8, 2015
Auditions: September 21-22, 2015

Music and Libretto by Hector Berlioz

Michael Foster, Director
Claire Levacher, Conductor
Sung in French with English dialogue

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Auditions: February 18-21, 2016

Music and Libretto by Benjamin Britten
Christopher Gillett, Director
Filippo Ciabatti, Conductor


Letters from Quebec to Providence in the Rain
March 11, 2015 performance
By Jeremy T. Gill

Bhutto (Preview Series)
April 5 & 7, 2016

Workshop reading with orchestra
Music by Mohammad Fairouz
Libretto by Mohammad Fairouz and Mohammed Hanif
featuring Nathan Gunn
Donald Schleicher, Conductor

Kiss Me, Kate
April 21-24, 2016

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Sam and Bella Spewack
Sarah Johnson, Director
Louis Bergonzi, Conductor
Endalyn Taylor, Choreographer

For Current Students


Opera Student Handbook 2013-14

Opera Past Seasons


Newsletter of Illinois Opera Theatre Enthusiasts
Volume XXXIV - Number 1 - September 2013