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AU Alumna achieves international recognition for opera journalism and research

Karyl Charna Lynn, SOC/MA ’80, describes her career as an opera journalist and author as an “avocation turned vocation.” A trained scientist turned journalist, when Lynn could not find adequate literature on opera and opera houses, she decided to write her own.

Six books later, Lynn is one of the most recognizable names in the world of opera. As the U.S. correspondent for Opera Now, Lynn travels the globe reviewing performances with a reputation for her candid and constructive reviews.

Lynn uses photographs and excellent notes to ensure that her reviews are well-reasoned and reflective. She credits her success as a writer to her training as a scientist and notes how her ability to think analytically allows her to make certain that her reviews contain a concrete foundation and has given her a reputation as being fair and honest.

“I believe that my greatest accomplishment has been being told that I was highly respected and very important in the world of opera,” she says. “I go to Europe, specifically Italy, where they are amazed that an American is an opera journalist and fluent in Italian.”

Spending 30 to 40 percent of the year traveling, Lynn does not have an average workday or week. Generally, she does not visit the same place twice; in 2008, she made 28 trips to see operas around the world, from Brazil to Alaska, from Finland to Los Angeles.  

“I don’t get bored. I don’t understand how people get bored. I love my job because I continue to experience new things. I get to have new and different experiences all the time,” Lynn said.

It is this love of opera that keeps Lynn going year after year, in search of a flawless performance, something she has only seen a few times in her career. She compares her vocation to a surfer searching for the perfect wave. Opera after opera, she waits for the combination that engenders the magic that creates a perfect performance.

However, once she finds it, Lynn says that the perfect opera is like a dream, stirring all the emotions that made her fall in love with opera so many years ago. She intends to keep seeing and critiquing operas as long as she can possibly do so.

While she is uncertain what her next step will be, Lynn hopes it will include another book, perhaps a memoir. Above all, she hopes to give others a chance to engage with and enjoy opera as she has for so many years.

“Opera is separate from other forms of theatre and entertainment because it demands that you engage with the performance; it stirs the emotions, gets your passion going,” Lynn says. “Going to the opera is an involvement; you can’t sit there and be passive. You have to get involved. And if you do, you get carried away.”