For those of us who were at Lyric when “Toward the 21st Century” was announced, it was an exciting time. During a ten-year period starting in 1989, Ardis made a commitment to include two 20th-century operas each season, one American and one European, and Lyric commissioned three new works. We all loved American composer William Bolcom who was on hand for rehearsals of his offerings McTeague, A View from the Bridge, and A Wedding, joking with orchestra members and making last minute revisions to his fresh and uniquely American scores. It was a chance to champion new works and shine up others that deserved a spotlight, like Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah. Being on the cutting edge was thrilling.
Here’s what Bolcom told Dennis Polkow in 2014 about Ardis: “What an amazing woman she was! That was one of the great impresarios of history, and people will realize it. She was so creative and everybody loved her. She was extraordinarily effective, and the whole feeling of the house was so unified and so harmonious, more than most places these days.”