Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Remembering Maestro Bartoletti

Florentine-born, Chicago-beloved, and internationally-renowned Maestro Bruno Bartoletti has died in Italy. Maestro Bartoletti conducted over 600 performances of 55 operas at Lyric, and he served as Lyric's artistic director between 1964 and 1999. Maestro Bartoletti's colleagues and friends reflect on his musical legacy:  

Bruno Bartoletti

Bruno Bartoletti, Lyric Opera of Chicago's artistic director emeritus (June 10, 1926 - June 9, 2013)

Florentine-born, Chicago-beloved, and internationally-renowned Maestro Bruno Bartoletti has died in Italy, on the day before his 87th birthday. Maestro Bartoletti conducted nearly 600 performances of 55 operas at Lyric. He served as Lyric's co-artistic director 1964-74 and artistic director 1975-99. Maestro Bartoletti's colleagues and friends reflect on his musical legacy: 

• "Bruno was a mentor, colleague, and friend for more than 50 years. He was passionate about opera and singing. Italian opera was in his blood  there was no better interpreter of Puccini. Yet, he had a unique affinity for contemporary operas as well. He was a wonderful musician and human being, and he made a remarkable contribution to the musical life of Chicago."  William Mason, general director emeritus 

• "Bruno Bartoletti was a giant in Lyric's history, nurturing and developing the fledgling company when he first joined Lyric in 1956, and overseeing its artistic and musical growth. By the time he retired as artistic director in 1999, Lyric was recognized around the world as one of the great opera companies. He continued to actively enjoy the fruits of his achievements until 2007, when he conducted the company for the last time. Bruno’s contribution to Lyric was unique in its importance and longevity, and his death truly marks the end of an era."  Anthony Freud, general director 

• "Maestro Bartoletti represents virtually the whole history of Lyric Opera of Chicago. I have always had the greatest respect and admiration for the way he built the company into such a shining beacon in the musical landscape of America."  Sir Andrew Davis, music director 

• "How fortunate Lyric is to have had such a man as artistic director. Bruno Bartoletti has...been the musical impetus that drove this great company onward and upward, and created that special spirit which exists in Chicago....[A]n inspirational force with a sense of history and style that is so rare these days." –  tenor Plácido Domingo, who starred in several Lyric Opera productions conducted by Mo. Bartoletti.

• "Maestro Bartoletti had a special reverence for music. He really taught that to the orchestra through any score he conducted, especially in the Italian repertoire. I can’t tell you in how many of those pieces I refer back to everything he taught us about the sound, the pacing, everything in the music. I remember that so strongly about him on the podium. Maestro Bartoletti hired a great many people in the orchestra. I feel his hires are the legacy of the Lyric orchestra."  Charlene Zimmerman, principal clarinetist 

• "Though the gods of Verdi and Puccini and Donizetti were high in his personal pantheon, what made Bruno different from a lot of Italian conductors of his day was that this was a man who was fascinated by the music of his own time. One more thing to say about him: He had a wonderful marriage, wonderful children, a beautiful home. He was a happy man.”  Matthew Epstein, former artistic director 

Bruno Bartoletti is survived by his daughters, Chiara and Maria, and his five grandchildren. His wife Rosanna died in 2011.

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Remembering Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief Paschen (January 24, 1925- April 11, 2013) Lyric Opera joins the international performing-arts community in mourning the loss of legendary ballerina and Chicago choreographer Maria Tallchief, who has passed away at 88.    

Maria Tallchief, credit Victor Skrebneski

Maria Tallchief Paschen (January 24, 1925- April 11, 2013)

Lyric Opera joins the international performing-arts community in mourning the loss of legendary ballerina and Chicago choreographer Maria Tallchief, who has passed away at 88.  

Ms. Tallchief began her five-decade affiliation with Lyric as a principal dancer in the Ruth Page Chicago Opera Ballet, Lyric's resident ballet troupe during the 1950s and 1960s. 

In 1973, Lyric general manager Carol Fox hired Ms. Tallchief to teach a movement class for Lyric singers.  This class evolved into the Lyric Opera Ballet, which Ms. Tallchief led from its inception in 1973 until 1979.  From the 1970s through the first decade of the twenty-first century, Ms. Tallchief choreographed dances for more than fifty different Lyric productions.  In recognition of her pioneering artistic influence, Lyric Opera created the advisory position of Ballet Director for Ms. Tallchief in the 1970s.  She is the first and only person to hold the title.

Ms. Tallchief is survived by her daughter Elise Paschen, her two grandchildren, her sister, and generations of Chicago dancers she taught, choreographed, and inspired. Her husband, Henry Paschen, died in 2004.

Top photo: Victor Skrebneski.

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A Great Dame at Lyric

Downton Abbey has engaged New Zealand-born soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as a singing guest star of its next season. The legendary diva performed at Lyric throughout the 1980s. Explore her archival photos!

Kiri Te Kanawa/Sir Andrew Davis

Sir Andrew Davis conducts Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Exciting news for those who like to follow their Saturday evening Donizetti with Sunday evening Downton Abbey:

The award-winning British period drama (that airs weekly on PBS in the United States) has engaged New Zealand-born soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as a singing guest star of its next season. Dame Te Kanawa is no stranger to period costumes. You can admire her fancy frocks below, in photos from Lyric's production archives. 

Dame Te Kanawa's full production history at Lyric:

        • Strauss's Arabella (Arabella), 1984 Season

        • Kiri Te Kanawa in Concert, 1985-86 Season

        • Mozart's Così fan tutte (Fiordiligi), 1987-88 Season

        • Verdi's Don Carlo (Elisabetta di Valois), 1989-90 Season     

        • Verdi's Simon Boccanegra (Amelia Grimaldi), 1995-1996 Season       

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