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About Us

The Motor City Lyric Opera is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and educating students and families in the metropolitan Detroit area, through highly artistic musical presentations. We believe that the expression of the arts is a humanistic universal right that transcends social and economic boundaries, and should be available to everyone.


Through our colorful, captivating, and values-focused programs, we strive to inspire and elevate the hearts and minds of metropolitan Detroit.


As state budgets and school funding are slashed, school arts programs are frequently the first to be cut. The Motor City Lyric Opera believes aspirations and dreams that inspire future generations become limited when exposure to the arts is reduced or completely lost. Through Opera on Wheels, our outreach program, we bring interactive opera productions with themes of inspiration and hope, encouraging children to reflect on how we treat each other.

Vision: Dedicate our organization to being a part of the Detroit Renaissance, embracing the community with productions of the highest artistic integrity. 


Purpose: Use the Arts to elevate, inspire, and educate. Nurture a culture of artistic experiences for school children, families, and underserved community members.




Mary Callaghan Lynch is the 14th of 18 children. She and her twin brother, Joseph were born a week before Christmas--hence the symbolic names. (Interestingly, if it weren’t for the Christmas connection, Mary was to have been named Cecelia—after the patron saint of music.)


Mary’s parents (Mary O’Brien and John Callaghan) met in high school when they were cast as the romantic leads in the G & S operetta, H.M.S. Pinafore. They both attended Syracuse University on full scholarship—Mary for voice, John for organ—and married at the end of Mary’s freshman year.


The Callaghan home was filled with religious art and music. Mary’s father worked three jobs to support the family. Not surprisingly, family outings were not an option. However, each holiday season, all would gather around a rarely-watched television to revel in Gian-Carlo Menotti’s “Amahl & the Night Visitor." It became Mary’s most cherished holiday memory.



About Mary

Mary received her BFA from Marygrove College in Detroit—where she enjoyed “being in the right place at the right time.” The training she received was invaluable. As an undergraduate, Mary began performing with The Michigan Opera Theatre and also performed in commercials and musical theatre. While singing at a funeral, she met her future husband, Patrick (who happened to be the funeral director).


Patrick had his own musical legacy—his grandmother, Marvel O’Hara, was an accomplished coloratura soprano who discovered and mentored George Shirley—the first African American singer to perform at The Metropolitan Opera.


Mary and Patrick had two children: their daughter, Caitlin, has grown to become a well-regarded opera singer, performing with various opera companies and will make her Metropolitan Opera deput in March 2013. Their son, Paddy, has joined his father in the family business and coaches the Brother Rice Varsity football team.


For the past 10 years, Mary has served as Aretha Franklin’s opera coach, teaching her a number of arias, including Lucianno Pavarotti’s signature aria, “Nessun Dorma.” Aretha Franklin performed the aria at Pavarotti’s request at the Waldorf in New York City and again the following week at the Grammy Awards—with a mere 35-minute notice. It was a stunning success, and numerous orchestras sought her to perform the aria with their musicians.


When approached to do a benefit for the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) community in 1999, Mary decided to produce and perform in “Amahl & the Night Visitors”—the cherished performance from her childhood memory. This led to the opera being presented at The Music Hall Center in 2001. It featured renowned composer Gian-Carlo Menotti as director of the 50th anniversary production. In addition, Paula Tutman of WDIV-TV produced a documentary—and it was shown as part of the celebration.


In 2002, Mary established The Motor City Lyric Opera to bring music—with a focus on ethics—to the inner city students and families of Detroit. Since that time, over 70,000 students seniors and patients have experienced just that—free of charge.


Mary continues to sing annually at The Motor City Lyric Opera’s Patricktide and other various venues.


The Board

The Motor City Lyric Opera board is a collection of dedicated professionals who believe in the mission to inspire and educate students and families in the metropolitan Detroit area through highly artistic musical presentations. The members share their expertise--legal, corporate, educational, and entrepreneurial. They also serve as dedicated volunteers, coordinators, and contributors to our organization.

Dr. Edward D. Callaghan

Chair, Michigan Employment

Relations Commision

            Edward D. Callaghan has been a board member of MCLO since 2002. He currently serves on the board of Henry Ford Health System, Walsh college, Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union, and the Alliance for Excellence in online education. Previously he served on the board of directors for Brother Rice High School and Gilda’s Club. Dr. Callaghan was appointed as Chair of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission on June 20, 2011 and was re-appointed on June 6, 2014. Dr. Callaghan has been a full-time faculty member at Oakland Community College (OCC) since 2005. He previously served as President of OCC’s Orchard Ridge campus and as Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and College Communications. Chair Callaghan has negotiated labor contracts in the public sector for more than 30 years representing public employers, including: the Dearborn Public Schools, Wayne County Community College, Henry Ford Community College and Oakland Community College.

            Dr. Callaghan’s extensive collective bargaining experience includes: handling MERC elections, unfair labor practice claims, and mediation cases. He also served as an Act 312 arbitrator for police and fire municipal disputes and as a fact finder for governmental units in Michigan – both on behalf of the Michigan Employment Labor Relations Commission.

Dr. Mary Fisher


Donna Rhodes

Grant Writer

Natalie Eskine, Esq.

Mary Callaghan Lynch

Artistic Director

Mr. Patrick McQueen


Maggie Currier
Mara M. Letica Saad, Esq.

Attorney, Letica Corporation

Honorable Henry W. Saad

Michigan Court of Appeals

Paula Tutman
Dr. Barbara Yakes

Honorary Board Members are Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul; Frank D. Stella, and Madame Shirley Varrett



The Motor City Lyric Opera Advisory & Honorary Boards are a significant resource for additional insight and endorsement for our mission.

Maggie Allesee
Sarah Jackson
Francis Menotti
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