Lyric Opera of Chicago

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An Insider's Guide to IL TROVATORE

Lyric's production of Verdi's Il Trovatore runs October 27 through November 29. Here is your complete insider's guide with articles, photos, audio previews, and more.

 

Everyone has heard the Anvil Chorus, but Verdi's epic Il Trovatore (on stage October 27-November 29) is so much more than its signature choral piece. Learn more about Lyric's monumental production, originally conceived by director Sir David McVicar and conducted by Asher Fisch.

A cruel curse separates two brothers at birth. One is the privileged Count di Luna (Quinn Kelsey), and the other, the troubadour Manrico (Yonghoon Lee), is raised by the revenge-obsessed gypsy Azucena (Stephanie Blythe). Now bitter enemies, they clash over the love of the same woman, the beautiful Leonora (Amber Wagner). And that's just Act One! Kidnapping, imprisonment, mistaken identities, gypsies, poisonings, witches burning at the stake, star-crossed lovers, revenge—this opera has everything, including some of Verdi's most irresistible music. 

"Patter Up!" with Amber Wagner & Quinn Kelsey

Get to know Lyric's Leonora and Count di Luna as they answer rapid-fire questions. Amber demonstrates her signature dance move, and Quinn sings a little Elvis!

 

  

Articles with insights from the cast and creative team

Stephanie Blythe on the Backstory of Il Trovatore: The Gypsy's PTSD
Stephanie Blythe's dishes on her II Trovatore character's backstory. "Azucena is someone who has seen something so truly horrifying that she never gets over it." READ MORE

Il Trovatore: A Vocal Feast
Verdi fans have joked for decades that all you need for the composer’s Il Trovatore are the greatest voices in the world – but there’s actually some truth in that! And if you’ve got the right voices, then the feast offered by this opera is sumptuous indeed.  
READ MORE

Lyric’s Chorus delights in Il Trovatore and beyond
Il Trovatore is a choral feast and provides one of the biggest showpieces for the amazing Lyric Opera Chorus this season. Chorus Master Michael Black takes us through some of the many choral highlights in Verdi's masterpiece. READ MORE

Opera 101: Inside tech week
 Opera secrets revealed! What happens at Lyric during the summer? Each mainstage opera has a week-long summer tech period. Lighting cues are set, sets are repaired, and everything is made ready for performances later in the season. Read on to for a day-by-day breakdown of the preparations for Verdi's Il TrovatoreREAD MORE

Il Trovatore: A Lyric Photo History
Il Trovatore was a hugely popular success when it premiered, and it today remains one of the 20 most-performed operas around the world. Before you come and see Yonghoon Lee, Amber Wagner, Stephanie Blythe, and Quinn Kelsey in Sir David McVicar's production later this season, take a look at some past productions of this great opera throughout Lyric's history, including Maria Callas as Leonora and Jussi Björling as Manrico. READ MORE

Catching up with Chorus Master Michael Black
In this Lyric Lately exclusive, read more about Michael Black's history with Il Trovatore and how he keeps busy during the summer months away from Lyric. READ MORE

 

Il Trovatore Audio Preview

Music director Sir Andrew Davis shares the synopsis and excerpts from Verdi's Il Trovatore. Recordings used by permission of EMI Classics.

An Insider's Guide to CAPRICCIO

Go inside Lyric's production of Strauss's  Capriccio (on stage October 6-28) with video and audio previews, articles, photos, and more. 

Capriccio, Richard Strauss's last opera, runs from October 6 through 28 at Lyric. Conducted by Sir Andrew Davis and starring Lyric's creative consultant Renée Fleming in one of her signature roles, this sophisticated opera takes you inside the ultimate dinner party. Countess Madeleine (Fleming) is torn between two men—one a poet and the other a musician. Meanwhile, her brother is out to seduce a famous actress. Will he succeed? And who will she choose? Capriccio also stars Anne Sofie von Otter (Clairon), Bo Skovhus (Count), William Burden (Flamand), Audun Iversen (Olivier), and Peter Rose (La Roche).

Video preview with Renée Fleming

 

Articles with insights from the cast and creative team

Critics agree: “The operatic stars are in alignment” for Capriccio
Lyric's production of Strauss's Capriccio is opera at its finest, with a wonderful cast led by Renée Fleming, a sophisticated 1920s setting, and unparalleled musicianship from conductor Sir Andrew Davis  and the Lyric Opera Orchestra. Here's what the critics have to say about this "intelligent, tasteful, funny, serious" production. READ MORE

A closer look: Big screen magnification for Capriccio
Richard Strauss’s Capriccio is an opera for an ensemble of fabulous singing actors; the detailed give-and-take between the performers is always a joy to watch. So that this aspect of the production can be more thoroughly appreciated by those in seats located at a fair distance from the stage, Lyric is installing IMAG (the audio-visual acronym for “image modification”) screens in the first balcony and upper balcony for October 9, 15, 22, and 28. READ MORE

Capturing Capriccio's magic on screen
Strauss's Capriccio (on stage Oct. 6-28) is an intimate and sophisticated opera that takes place at a party at a gorgeous estate. Four presentations will feature live high-definition video broadcast to four screens placed in the balconies. How does the opera go from stage to screen? Matt Hoffman from HMS Media explains the basics of live production. READ MORE

A superstar cast for Strauss’s Capriccio
From October 6 through 28, creative consultant Renée Fleming once again graces the stage at Lyric singing one of her greatest roles. But the rest of the cast that surrounds her is no less exciting. Lyric’s production features five outstanding singers who will shine as the other characters in this remarkable “Conversation Piece for Music.” READ MORE

Strauss is for Her: Renée Fleming relishes the master’s final opera, Capriccio
Countess Madeleine in Capriccio is beautiful, elegant, highly intelligent, irresistibly charming, and soaring forth in some of Richard Strauss's most heavenly music. In other words, the role is a natural for Renée Fleming, as Lyric audiences will see and hear when Capriccio returns for the first time in 20 years. READ MORE

 

Capriccio Audio Preview

Music director Sir Andrew Davis shares the synopsis and excerpts from Strauss's Capriccio. Recordings used by permission of EMI Classics.

Popera!

What happens when opera goes pop? There's a grand tradition of opera stars teaming up with pop stars to create memorable collaborations. Here are a few of our favorite results when musical genres collide.

What happens when opera goes pop? There's a grand tradition of opera stars teaming up with pop stars to create memorable collaborations. Here are a few of our favorite examples (both exciting and unexpected) of when what happens when musical genres collide!

Lyric's creative consultant Renée Fleming is known for her diverse musical interests. Here she is with the late Lou Reed perform "The Perfect Day" in Prague in 2009. The performance was part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution. 

 

And she has also partnered with crooner Josh Groban, performing a medley from Brigadoon.

 

The adventurous Anne Sofie von Otter (starring as Clairon in Strauss's Capriccio  from October 6-28)  is not afraid to expand her musical horizons. She collaborated on an album with Elvis Costello in 2001, and they performed the title track, "For the Stars," on The Late Show with David Letterman.

 

As a native of Sweden, it only seems natural that she would release an album of covers of ABBA songs and others written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Here is her cover of  ABBA's "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room."

 

To celebrate Barcelona being chosen for the 1988 Olympics, pop icon Freddie Mercury and the great soprano (and Barcelona native) Montserrat Caballé teamed up to record a theme song, fittingly titled "Barcelona." They went on to record an entire album together, which would be Mercury's last.

 

Luciano Pavarotti is the king of pop duets. His "Pavarotti and Friends" concerts featured duets with U2, Lou Reed (another "Perfect Day" rendition), Sheryl Crow, and others. Here he is performing "It's a Man's World" with James Brown.

 

And he performed "I Hate You, Then I Love You" with diva Céline Dion.

 

Like Pavarotti, who joined him as one of "The Three Tenors," Plácido Domingo has also achieved a great deal of crossover success. He had a hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Perhaps Love," a duet with John Denver recorded in 1981.

 

And he's performed with his Muppet alter ego Plácido Flamingo on Sesame Street.

 

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

Catching up with Chorus Master Michael Black

Even more Michael Black! Lyric's chorus master was featured in the August edition of Lyric Notes, and here is some bonus info from that interview.

In our August edition of Lyric Notes, Lyric's Chorus Master Michael Black takes us through some of the choral highlights of the 2014-15 season, including Lyric's mainstage production of Verdi's Il Trovatore and the two very special Chorus showcases at Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church on September 12 and Evanston's Alice Millar Chapel on November 22.

Here are some tidbits that we couldn't fit into the article, including his history with the opera, why he loves Sir David McVicar's productions, and what this Aussie has been doing over his Lyric vacation.

Il Trovatore is one of the standards of the operatic repertoire—what is your history with the piece?

I've prepared Trovatore perhaps five or six times on two different productions at Opera Australia. The first production was a delightful Elijah Moshinsky production and, a few years earlier, premiered with Dame Joan Sutherland as Leonore. Coincidentally when I first worked on the piece the conductor was Dame Joan's husband Richard Bonynge. I have also had the dubious distinction of being one of two anvil players at every performance of Trovatore I have been involved in. [Black will stay behind the scenes in Lyric's production. Watch for some talented supernumeraries to provide the signature anvil clash!]

Reading about Sir David McVicar's production of Trovatore, one of the advantages of moving the action to the early 1800s is that the gypsies in the Anvil Chorus are actually forging weapons.  How do you prepare the Chorus for this iconic scene?

Fortunately, as with all amazing directors, Sir David uses actors to give the illusion that the chorus is moving and performing strenuous moves. He lets the chorus sing! They just have to keep out of the way of the anvils!

How have you been keeping busy this summer? Can you let us in on some of your travels and the musical projects that keep you busy in the off-season?

I arrived back in Sydney the day of my son Liam's 18th birthday, and then took off to thaw out after the incredibly cold Chicago winter by relaxing by a pool in Bali with my Kindle catching up on some reading whilst getting some sun. Apart from the Bali trip I was in Sydney the entire time where I was lucky enough to do a short stint as répétiteur [rehearsal pianist and coach] on a terrific Harry Kupfer production of Otello at the Sydney Opera House. It was a treat listening to my old chorus from a distance and having absolutely no responsibility for them!

Photo credits:

  • Michael Black poses with Lyric Opera Chorus members backstage during various productions from last season: Otello, Madama Butterfly, and Parsifal. (Photos courtesy Michael Black.)

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