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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

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.

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.)

An Insider's Guide to DON GIOVANNI

Lyric's 60th season opens with a new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Here is your complete insider's guide with video, articles, photos, and more.

Lyric opens its Diamond Anniversary season with a spectacular new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Directed by Robert Falls and conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, the classic story of the charismatic and dangerous seducer is updated to the 1920s. Here is your inside look at the amazing cast, design, and history that are informing Lyric's bold new take.

Don Juan—selfish, arrogant, dangerous. With a list of conquests longer than a phonebook, Don Giovanni (Mariusz Kwiecień) travels the world, seducing thousands of willing (and unwilling) women with the help of his wingman Leporello (Kyle Ketelsen). But when lust turns to murder, three of his victims—Donna Anna (Marina Rebeka), Donna Elvira (Ana María Martínez), and Zerlina (Andriana Chuchman)—join forces for revenge. One of the greatest operas ever written, this darkly comic tale of seduction and punishment is Mozart’s masterpiece.

Stage director Robert Falls discusses the new production

 

Articles with insights from the cast and creative team

Don Giovanni Breaks Bad: A Conversation with Robert Falls
Known for his visionary and challenging productions as artistic director of the Goodman Theatre, Robert Falls returns to Lyric with Don Giovanni. In this interview, Falls takes us inside the process for reinventing this operatic masterpiece. READ MORE 

Designing Don Giovanni
Opera’s irresistible bad-boy seducer, Don Giovanni, is getting a whole different look at Lyric this fall. In the new production staged by Robert Falls, the Don will suavely work his wiles like a star of the silver screen, circa 1920s—but in living color. READ MORE
 

Ana María Martínez Dishes…
Donna Elvira, the woman scorned by Don Giovanni, holds a special place in the heart of Ana María Martínez, who has a lot to say about her fierce character. “She is a woman ahead of her time, very independent in her thinking, her approach to what she wants, her determination, her clarity,” says the soprano.READ MORE

Rolling with the Don: A wild ride with Mozart's most fascinating character
An in-depth Q&A with barihunk Mariusz Kwiecień, the native of Krakow, Poland, who is starring as the legendary womanizer on stage here at Lyric. READ MORE

Giovanni's Ladies
When Lyric opens the 2014-15 season with Mozart's Don Giovanni, the female roles will be sung by an extraordinary trio of sopranos—Andriana Chuchman, Ana María Martínez, and Marina Rebeka—each beautiful to behold and dazzling to hear. READ MORE

On the Couch: Don Giovanni
He’s opera’s most notorious bad boy—seducing women across the globe and leaving not just broken hearts, but also broken homes in his wake. Here’s a peek at the psyche of this fascinating character from the point of view of his therapist.  
READ MORE

Don Giovanni: A Lyric Photo History
Did you know that Don Giovanni actually was the very first production presented by what would become Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1954? Here's a look at how this monumental opera has evolved over the years. READ MORE

The Enduring Influence of Don Giovanni
Mozart's Don Giovanni, which opens Lyric's 2014-15 season on September 27, has a long history and an even longer legacy. Based on the Don Juan legends that date back to the early 1600s, about 150 years before Mozart's opera premiered, the opera has become an enduring cultural touchstone, perhaps because of its intoxicating mix of comedy, tragedy, and the supernatural. READ MORE

 

Don Giovanni Audio Preview

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

 

Inside the BEL CANTO working sessions

The week of July 7, the creative team for Lyric's world premiere opera Bel Canto  (opening in 2015!), gathered in Chicago for several days of intensive work on the project. Read on to get a glimpse of this work-in-progress.

The week of July 7, the creative team for Lyric's world premiere opera Bel Canto (opening in December 2015!), gathered in Chicago for several days of intensive work on the project. Composer Jimmy López, librettist Nilo Cruz, and director Kevin Newbury were on hand to listen to the completed portions of the score in a version for two pianos and vocals, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.

This was the first time that any members of the team had heard the music sung. Almost the entire Ryan Opera Center ensemble participated in these working sessions, taking on not only the main roles but doubling the minor characters plus chorus parts as well.

The days of work culminated with a reading of four scenes (two from Act One and two from Act Two) that have been completed. The session was opened up to a small group of journalists and sponsors and was followed by a Q&A with the creative team and Lyric's general Director Anthony Freud.

Here are just a few of the fascinating details that were revealed:

  • A polyglot opera! The opera will be performed in seven languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Japanese, and Quechua—one of the indigenous languages of Peru, where the opera is set. Sir Andrew Davis noted that this could be the first opera to use Quechua!
  • Reinvention, not adaptation. Nilo Cruz talked about how he's not simply adapting the novel, but making something completely different. Anthony Freud added that the aim for the project is to make Bel Canto stand on its own terms as an opera, rather than just reproduce the book as a play set to music. 
  • Ann Patchett's positive reaction. Anthony Freud shared that author Ann Patchett, who was initially afraid to read the libretto when it was sent to her, has declared it even more beautiful than her original novel.
  • Bel Canto is the new black? Director Kevin Newbury says that the story is really about creating a community within captivity, and how he is excited to show the small private moments that can happen in the middle of a very public space. He drew a comparison to the hit TV show Orange is the New Black, which gives characters' background within the larger story of life in prison.
  • It will be crowdedon stage, at least! During the real-life captivity, all of the hostages were made to stay in the same space, which means that all cast members will be on stage together for virtually the entire opera.

Learn more about Bel Canto from the creative team:

 

Photo credits:

  • Bel Canto libretto (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • The Bel Canto creative team: librettist Nilo Cruz, composer Jimmy López, and director Kevin Newbury (credit Andrew Cioffi / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Ryan Opera Center members are conducted by Sir Andrew Davis during the workshop (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago). For the workshop, Ryan Opera Center members Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi, J’nai Bridges, Jonathan Johnson, Bradley Smoak, Jesse Donner, and Anthony Clark Evans sang principal roles. Laura Wilde, Julie Anne Miller, John Irvin, Will Liverman, and Richard Ollarsaba sang multiple roles. Ensemble member Maureen Zoltek and Ryan Opera Center Music Director Craig Terry were pianists. 
  • Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis during the discussion (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
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