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Opera Star Samuel Ramey Said “Bravo!” to a Cash Offer on His Glenview Home

For $1.499 million, a buyer got a soundproof music room, a 600-square foot closet, and a killer surround system.

Photo: Dennis Rodkin

List Price: $1.499 million
Sale Price: $1.499 million
The Property: When the international opera star Samuel Ramey and his wife, Lindsey Larsen, put their four-bedroom, six-bath house in Glenview on the market in October, Ramey says, “we hoped it would sell by spring or early summer.” Instead, it sold in a week, for cash, at the full price they were asking.

So when the sale closed January 3, Ramey told me, the couple and their son shifted to a rental nearby. After the school year is out, the family is moving to Kansas, where the 71-year-old singer will start teaching at his alma mater, Wichita State University, while continuing to perform. “We’re building a house there,” Ramey said, “so for the next year or so, our lives will be interesting.”

Since his debut in New York in 1973, Ramey has had a distinguished career, appearing with major opera companies around the world, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera and La Scala in Milan. He first sang at Chicago’s Lyric Opera in the 1987–88 season as Mephistopheles in Faust. Then and on subsequent visits, he told me Friday, “I always thought if I ever wanted to leave New York, Chicago would be a terrific place to live.”

Ramey moved here in 1998 and first lived in Lincoln Park and Lake View, buying a $900,000 townhouse in 2000. He met Larsen when she was singing in the Lyric Opera chorus, and they married in 2002. A few years later, Ramey told me, “we decided our son needed more space to run around, and of course we were looking at the school situation. My agent’s twin brother lived in Glenview and invited us to a party, and we thought it was a nice place.”

Which is how a man who sings on some of the world’s great opera stages and has been called the most recorded bass-baritone ever and a “sexpot virtuouso” came to live in Glenview. “I was reluctant at first,” he said. “I’ve always lived in cities” except for his childhood in tiny Colby, Kansas, whose population is now 5,387.

He quickly became a fan of the dining options at the Glen, as well as the lakeside walking paths and other aspects of the area that made it one of my picks for the best place to live a few years back.

The family was also very fond of the house, Ramey said. It’s 4,700 square feet, with custom touches like soundproof glass doors on a music room, according to the listing agent Missy Jerfita. Ramey says there’s high-quality surround-sound equipment in the master bedroom and the great room “to make nice places for listening to music or watching events on television.” Jerfita also noted extensive millwork, a 600-square-foot master closet and extensive landscaping including bluestone walkways.

“We hate to see the house sold,” Ramey said, “but it’s exciting to go back to where my artistic career began.”

Price Points: The couple paid $1,867,500 for the home in June 2005, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Jerfita said their total investment “was about $2 million.” Ramey did not give a dollar figure but said, “we never expected to get back what we put into it.”

They put the home on the market October 3, asking $1,499,000. Within a week, there were two offers; the one that prevailed was at full price and to be paid in cash, Jerfita says.

“We think the people who bought our home got a good deal,” Ramey said.

Listing Agent: Missy Jerfita of Koenig & Strey, 847-510-5010 and mjerfita@koenigstrey.com

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