Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Opera 101: How to plan a season

At Lyric, each opera season has eight different productions. So how do you choose just eight from the whole history of opera, plus new operas that are being written each year? Lyric's General Director Anthony Freud and Music Director Sir Andrew Davis take you through the basics of planning a season, which is part science and part subjectivity. 

At Lyric, each opera season has just eight different productions. So how do you choose just eight from the whole history of opera, plus new operas that are being written each year?

In the video below, Lyric's General Director Anthony Freud and Music Director Sir Andrew Davis take you through the basics of planning a season. The process is somewhat like putting together an elaborate puzzle, but one that they both enjoy very much!

The main factors they consider are:

  • Variety - Making sure that the opera season represents the wealth of musical styles (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or Modern) plus a breadth of dramatic possibilities (comedy, tragedy, fantasy, etc.) and languages (French, Italian, German, Russian, etc.)
  • Passion - Freud and Davis also seek to program operas and productions that they both are truly excited about presenting to the public.
  • Longevity - Lyric is celebrating its 60th anniversary in the 2014/15 season, so it's imperative to take a look at what has been programmed within the last 10 years and what will be programmed in the years to come!

 

What's your fantasy opera season? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter with #dreamseason. Or email us with your picks and any other questions you want to see answered at opera101@lyricopera.org!

Photo credits:

  • Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni (credit Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera)
  • Renée Fleming in Capriccio (credit Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera)
  • Stephanie Blythe in Il Trovatore (credit Terrence McCarthy / San Francisco Opera)
  • A scene from Tosca (credit Robert Millard / LA Opera)
  • Michaela Schuster as Venus in Tannhäuser (credit Clive Barda / Royal Opera House / Arena Pal)
  • Eric Owens as Porgy in Porgy and Bess with cast members (credit Terrence McCarthy / San Francisco Opera)
  • Sondra Radvanovsky as Anna Bolena (credit Cade Martin / Washington National Opera)
  • A scene from The Passenger (credit Karl Forster)

Jeanne Gang Makes Her Lyric Design Debut

Lyric's 60th Anniversary Concert on November 1 just got a little bit more spectacular. World-renowned architect Jeanne Gang and her firm, Studio Gang Architects, will be designing a brand-new concert shell that will have its debut at this concert. Read on for details and to see a first look at the fantastic design.

Lyric's 60th Anniversary Concert on November 1 just got a little bit more spectacular. World-renowned architect Jeanne Gang and her firm, Studio Gang Architects, will be designing a brand-new concert shell that will have its debut at this concert.

Gang is a MacArthur Fellow, perhaps better known as the "genius grant," and among her iconic building designs is the acclaimed Aqua Tower (pictured right) here in Chicago, completed in 2010 and is the tallest structure ever designed by a female-led firm.

It was this building and her other works that made Studio Gang Lyric General Director Anthony Freud's first choice for this project. "As a newcomer to Chicago in 2011, I was immediately enamored with the bold freshness of Ms. Gang's work," Freud said. "She has redefined the Chicago skyline, and seemed the perfect match for Lyric Opera as it moves into the future with passion and a redefined mission of what it means to be a great opera company in the 21st century."

A first look at the design (top right) explores the material properties of wood, bent into conic surfaces with varying degrees of concavity and convexity, and assembled into units that can be stored and assembled with ease. The design of the shell also explores moments of continuity with its surroundings, encouraging an elegant transition between the space of the Civic Opera House and the stage.

Lyric's 60th Anniversary Concert features a luminous assemblage of artists from Lyric's past, present, and future. Sir Andrew Davis leads the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Chorus, and artists including Renée Fleming and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, Stephanie Blythe, Johan Botha, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Quinn Kelsey, Mariusz Kwiecień, Ana María Martínez, Eric Owens, Sondra Radvanovsky, Samuel Ramey, Marina Rebeka, and Amber Wagner, as well as members of the Ryan Opera Center and The Second City.

Tickets are available now for Lyric subscribers from just $49. Don't have your subscription yet? Subscribe now before single tickets to go on sale July 1.

Photo credits:

  • A view of Lyric's Ardis Krainik Theatre with a rendering of the concert shell design. (Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects, Original Photography - Jon Miller, Hedrich Blessing)
  • Aqua Tower (Courtesy Studio Gang Architects)

 

An Insider's Guide to RUSALKA

Video and audio previews, articles, and more at Lyric's Insider's Guide to Rusalka.

Below is your guide to Dvořák's hauntingly beautiful fairy tale Rusalka—including video previews, plot synposis, background articles and interviews, photo gallery, audio guides, and more. This new production and Lyric company premiere is on stage from Saturday, February 22 through Sunday, March 16. 

Ana María Martínez portrays Rusalka, a water nymph who has fallen in love with a human prince (Brandon Jovanovich). Although her father Vodník (Eric Owens) warns her that this may lead to disaster, she begs the witch Ježibaba (Jill Grove) to make her human. Her wish is granted, but the price is her voice. After Rusalka is transformed into a beautiful young woman, the prince grows frustrated with her silence and turns his attention to a foreign princess (Ekaterina Gubanova), a betrayal with tragic consequences. Read the full plot synopsis here.

 

Watch our video trailer (above) and a preview with general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis (who is conducting this production), and creative consultant Renée Fleming (below).

 


Get to know Rusalka star Eric Owens in this "Patter Up!" video (below): 


Rusalka: Dvořák's darkly sensual fairytale
Learn more about Lyric's eagerly anticipated production of Rusalka, with insights from director Sir David McVicar, in this article. 

Interview with Rusalka star Ana María Martínez 
Ana María Martínez, a Lyric favorite, talks in detail about her character's journey.

Interview with Rusalka star Eric Owens
Eric Owens, who makes his role debut as Vodník in this production, talks about the great cast and what he likes to do when not on stage.

Rusalka and Her Journey
Read Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines's in-depth exploration of Rusalka.

A Conversation with Sir David McVicar
Rusalka's director gives an in-depth interview about how he created this exciting new production. 

 Rusalka

View a photo gallery of this stunning new production (click each image below to enlarge). 

RUSALKA Discovery Series

Water nymph Rusalka falls in love with a mortal and there are dire consequences in this sensual Czech fairytale. Ana María Martínez (Rusalka), Brandon Jovanovich (Prince), and conductor Sir Andrew Davis reveal the subtleties and intricacies of Dvořák’s best-known opera.

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Sir David McVicar speaks about RUSALKA

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Rusalka Audio Preview

Recordings used by permission of EMI Classics.

 

Rusalka Commentary

Rusalka
by Antonín Dvořák

© 2013/14 Lyric Opera Commentaries 

Original sound recordings of musical excerpts used by permission of SUPRAPHON. All rights reserved. Post-production services provided by Mark Travis, Producer.

 

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An Insider's Guide to THE BARBER OF SEVILLE

Video and audio previews, articles, and more at Lyric's Insider's Guide to The Barber of Seville.

Below is your complete guide to all things Barber. Lyric Opera of Chicago's brand-new production of The Barber of Seville  runs February 1-28. 

 

Watch Lyric's official video trailer for The Barber of Seville  (above). 

The barber Figaro (Nathan Gunn) is the ultimate fixer, running around solving everyone's problems and boasting about it, "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!" He involves himself in a love triangle, helping Count Almaviva (Alek Shrader) woo the beautiful Rosina (Isabel Leonard) away from her old lecherous guardian Dr. Bartolo, who keeps her under lock and key. All hell breaks loose not once but twice—first, when Almaviva disguises himself as a drunken soldier, and then when he presents himself as a replacement for Rosina's supposedly indisposed music teacher, Don Basilio. Find out who gets the girl in this delightful farce! Read the complete plot synopsis.

 

Watch "Patter Up!" with Isabel Leonard, who makes her Lyric debut as Rosina (above).


 


Watch a preview with general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming (above).

                       

Figaro pays a visit to Dr. Opera (above). 

Rossini's Biggest Hit
By Jack Zimmerman
According to opera lore, Gioachino Rossini liked to compose in bed. Occasionally he’d drop a sheet of completed manuscript on the floor, and rather than throw back the covers and get up to retrieve it, he’d simply compose a new page. The composing-in-bed story sounds farfetched, until you listen to Rossini’s music. Just a few bars of Il barbiere di Siviglia are all it takes to realize that music simply poured out of the man. READ MORE

A Conversation with Director Rob Ashford
By Roger Pines
This production marks your eagerly awaited operatic debut. Have you been going to opera most of your life, or are you a new convert?
When I was in college in Pittsburgh, I danced in the corps de ballet at Pittsburgh Opera – that was my first taste of it. Then, when I moved to New York, one of my first jobs was dancing at the Met for a year. My first show there was Hal Prince’s production of Faust. I feel as if my operatic education happened in the Met canteen, sitting with other dancers and seeing everyone in costume – that was where I felt I began to learn. READ MORE

Learn more about Rossini as a foodie and Rossini's music in pop culture

The Barber of Seville Discovery Series

Jack-of-all-trades barber gets into the thick of things with a starry-eyed young couple and a lecherous old uncle. Alek Shrader (Almaviva), Isabel Leonard (Rosina), and conductor Michele Mariotti talk about Rossini’s comedic gift to us all.

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The Barber of Seville Audio Preview

Recordings used by permission of EMI Classics.

 

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