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Lyric Opera of Chicago announces new general manager

The Lyric Opera of Chicago has selected a new general director, the fourth in the company's history.

Lyric officials announced the unanimous selection of Anthony Freud with many superlatives, citing his vision, experience and artistic standing. Freud has been general director of the Houston Grand Opera and the Welsh National Opera.

He also headed the jury for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition for a decade, and is the first person to chair both service organizations OPERA America and Opera Europa.

Freud said he was "absolutely thrilled" by his selection.

"I don't believe in a generic opera company serving a generic city," Freud said. "Lyric Opera of Chicago must truly be of and for Chicago as well as being a major international force."

He hopes to make opera accessible to new listeners, and to engage actively with the communities the Lyric serves.

In Houston, Freud started an initiative to reach out to the community that included opera in schools and commissions like a mariachi opera and a work featuring the voices of Houston's immigrants.

He said he wants to make sure the Lyric audience continues to enjoy opera of the "highest quality," while offering performances that are thrilling, thought-provoking and at times, provocative.

New commissions that entail performances of different scales in different places are essential, he said.

Freud will take over from William Mason, who's retiring after more than four decades. Mason started out in the children's chorus.

"This truly has been a dream come true for me," Mason said. "I have spent a lifetime listening to music that I love, working with people who have been exhilarating, exciting --it's just been a great run."

Freud was chosen after an eight-month search.

Lyric Executive Vice President Kenneth Pigott said candidates were coming out of "windows and doors," hoping to become the new general director. He said Freud rose "head and shoulders" above the competition.

Freud's got a five-year contract here, and becomes the new general director in October.

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