Arts Society & Culture

Megan Gillis: Facing the Music

Despite its rich history and cultural significance, opera’s place within the world of music has, in some ways, fallen to the wayside. Megan Gillis BMus ’13 is working every day to change that.

A lifelong performer, Gillis first fell in love with opera at a young age after being encouraged by vocal instructors to pursue the art, due to her strong soprano voice. After many years of practice, she eventually found an ideal place to hone her passion at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, where she continued to find her voice.

Upon graduation, Gillis followed her dreams of a career in musical performance all the way to New York City, where she earned a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. It was in Manhattan where she and fellow performer Kathleen Spencer got the idea to start their own company: City Lyric Opera.

“We wanted to create new and inventive programs that not only benefit different and diverse opera audiences but also are equally beneficial to young, thriving artists here in New York City that wouldn’t otherwise have performance opportunities,” Gillis says.

City Lyric Opera aims to serve local artists in the New York City area and to create a home within the opera world for performers and audiences alike. As City Lyric’s co-executive director, Gillis hopes to bring her own love for opera to the masses in a relatable way.

Many of City Lyric’s programs focus on giving back to the artistic community, like their WorkshOpera program, which gives opportunities for members of the performing arts community—like artists and stage and music directors—to collaborate in a low-pressure environment. In another vein, their Salon Series presents small-scale performances in relaxed, intimate settings within people’s homes, bringing artists and patrons closer together.

Audiences can look forward to full-scale productions from the opera company as well. In May, they will stage a production of La Tragédie de Carmen. Through productions like this, up-and-coming artists, seasoned fans, and curious beginners alike will be able to experience the opera within their own city.

“Everyone is invited to the opera. Everyone can come and enjoy and feel personally connected to it,” says Gillis. “That’s something that we’re very passionate about and something we want to integrate into all of our performances.”