Magda Krance is the director of media relations for Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she has worked since April 1992, initially as public relations associate, and subsequently assistant director of media relations and manager of media relations. In 2017 she was named director of media relations. Over the course of her tenure, her work has encompassed generating story ideas and arranging coverage of Lyric’s artists, productions, and special events by local, national, and international media; writing press releases; writing feature articles for the Lyric Opera News print magazine, Lyric Notes e-newsletter, and program book; overseeing production and event photography; extensive proofreading of program books, marketing brochures, emails, annual reports, and other materials; liaising with external organizations to arrange artist appearances; menu tasting for Lyric’s restaurants; and more.
Career highlights at Lyric include the company’s Ring cycles in 1996 and 2005, and the start of a new Ring cycle in 2016; William Bolcom’s three grand operas, starting with McTeague during her first season with the company (1992-93), continuing with A View from the Bridge (1999-2000), the genesis of which was detailed in an unprecedented nine-part series in The New York Times, which she arranged with national cultural correspondent Bruce Weber; and A Wedding in 2004-05, for which she persuaded Opera News Magazine to devote its August 2004 edition to Lyric’s 50th-anniversary season and Chicago in general (with A Wedding’s nuptial couple on the cover); the 2007-08 world-premiere coproduction of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, directed by Peter Sellars; and the world premiere of Jimmy López’s Bel Canto in 2015, based on the Ann Patchett novel.
From 1980 to 1992, Magda worked fulltime as a freelance journalist for several national and Chicago-based publications, including The New York Times, Time, People, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, Spy, Self, Playboy, The Washington Post travel section, Outside, Travel & Leisure, Travel Holiday, American Photographer, Vis à Vis (United Airlines' magazine), American Way, Oceans, and several others. Her feature articles and news reports covered a wide range of topics, including Harold Washington’s historic mayoral election, the advent of nuclear magnetic resonance for medical diagnosis, international travel, health issues, cultural trends, and more. She profiled columnists Mike Royko and Bob Greene, scholar Garry Wills, French chef Jean Banchet, restaurant entrepreneur Rich Melman, fashion mogul Luciano Benetton, satirist P.J. O’Rourke, the creators of Trivial Pursuit, street artist Lee Godie, and many others. From the late 1990s through the mid-2000s she wrote or contributed to several "round-up" features in Chicago Magazine -- e.g. "Best of," "Hidden Pleasures," "Where to Get Stuff Fixed" (which won a national award for best regional/city magazine service articles), "Best Farmers Markets," etc.
In 2004-05 Magda worked with the Polish filmmaker Bozena Garus-Hockuba, who produced an award-winning documentary about Magda’s mother and sisters, who were prominent in cultural circles during the interwar period in Warsaw.
From 1990-93 Magda collaborated with a group of Chicago-based women writers on a collection of essays, Reinventing Love, which was published in 1993 by Plume Books.
She “debuted” in PR as a part-time public relations consultant for the now-defunct musical ensemble Basically Bach (1990-91).
Prior to freelancing, Magda worked as an editorial assistant, assistant editor, and associate editor for Mariah, Mariah/Outside, and Outside magazine during its ownership transition, 1977-1980.
Magda holds a bachelor's degree in art and writing from Macalester College in St. Paul (1976) and a master of science in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism (1978). A native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, she has lived in Chicago since 1976. In 1978 she married Steve Leonard, a professional photographer (originally from Grand Marais, Minnesota, and also a Macalester graduate). Their son, Casimir Leonard, 29, lives and works in Chicago.
Magda has sung second alto with Bella Voce (formerly His Majestie’s Clerkes), a professional 24-voice a cappella ensemble, since 1992. Previously in Chicago, she sang with the professional ensemble Basically Bach under founder-director Dan Robinson, with the Bon Tempo Singers (a cappella octet), as a guest artist with Milly’s Orchid Show (created by Brigid Murphy), with American Ritual Theater Company (ARTCO) in several world-premiere performances of music by William Harper, with the Burgundian Consort, and with Colla Voce under Catherine Hall. At Macalester College she sang in the Concert Choir under Dale Warland.