Lyric Opera of Chicago

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The critics are raving: ANNA BOLENA “burns with white-hot intensity”

With the new production of  Anna Bolena, Lyric is now "five-for-five" in its 2014-15 season, says the Chicago Sun-Times. Donizetti's bel canto gem is onstage until January 16; the critics are praising the potent, dramatic story that offers plenty for audiences to cheer from vocal fireworks to the compelling staging.

With the new production of Anna Bolena, Lyric is now "five for five" in its 2014-15 season, says the Chicago Sun-Times. Donizetti's bel canto gem is onstage until January 16, and the critics are praising the potent, dramatic story that offers plenty for audiences to cheer from vocal fireworks to the compelling staging.

"Highly recommended" - Chicago Sun-Times

"Anna Bolena frequently burns with white hot intensity" - Chicago Sun-Times 

 "It's a thrilling new production featuring a strong, young, well-integrated all-American cast and a focused and effective pit debut by conductor Patrick Summers." - Chicago Sun-Times

The "Lyric audience [was] on its feet and cheering for five minutes after the final curtain…" - Chicago Sun-Times

"Director Kevin Newbury and set designer Neil Patel have a take on this tragic history opera that makes most of it as engrossing as a contemporary thriller, though it was written in 1830." - Chicago Reader

"Bel canto done right" - KDHX

"Stunning production" … "a major triumph" - Chicago Critic

"If you have not witnessed a bel canto opera - then this is the one to experience." - Chicago Critic

A Sumptuous Musical Feast with a Star-Studded Cast

Sondra Radvanovsky triumphs as Anne Boleyn

"It's all there - coloratura runs, the rapid dynamic and emotional changes required by the score and a confident but giving performance…" - Chicago Sun-Times

"Her high notes blazing, the Berwyn-born soprano tore into the long and diabolically difficult title role…" - Chicago Tribune

"Expertly sung and superbly acted, her Anna moves easily through the wide dynamic and emotional range of this role. Like Callas, Ms. Radvanovsky is not afraid to sacrifice a little technical purity here and there if it enhances the drama." - KDHX

"The visceral quality of Radvanovsky's vocally compelling and dramatically affecting performance was just the ticket to send sparks flying in the coloratura stratosphere." - Chicago Tribune

"Radvanovsky deployed her big, dark, vibrant sound, with its precise coloratura and close attention to text, to potent effect." - Chicago Tribune

Radvanovsky provided "exciting high notes and theatrical frisson" - Chicago Classical Review

Sondra Radvanovsky and Jamie Barton face off as Boleyn and rival Jane Seymour

"The early Act Two duet - or duel? - … is one of those moments you wondered if you'd ever see again: two singers so matched in age and style turning up the heat, feeding off of each other and the orchestra, and yet doing so at the service of the story and not for a mere divas' cat fight." - Chicago Sun-Times

"Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton is creamy-voiced and appealing as the sorry-but-seduced Jane Seymour; her tell-all duet with Radvanovsky in the opening scene of the second act is a musical and dramatic highlight." - Chicago Reader

"With two sensational roles for women, you almost want to call 'Anna Bolena' 'Anne and Jane,' with Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, singing epic duets with second wife Anne Boleyn. That's not a knock against the wonderful work of soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, who tears into the massive role of Anna with gusto (her mad scenes at the end are frightening). Rather, it's to acknowledge that Jamie Barton as Jane, a tricky role to act in Donizetti's version of the story, also delivers a big, passionate performance." - Crain's Chicago Business

"The role of the guilt-ridden Jane Seymour offered Barton a splendid opportunity to display her plush, voluminous voice and dulcet bel canto phrasing." - Chicago Tribune

Bryan Hymel makes an impressive Lyric debut

Bryan Hymel "delivered the goods" as Percy - Chicago Sun-Times

"Hymel's voice stood revealed as a tenor of impressively heroic strength, sweetness and style, easily inhabiting the high tessitura." - Chicago Tribune

"In his company debut, Hymel displayed a gleaming tenor, throwing off clarion high C's and bringing firm dramatic conviction to his confrontation with Henry." - Chicago Classical Review

John Relyea smolders as Henry VIII

"Bass John Relyea is smoldering, brutal and appropriately full of himself as a dashing Henry, showing off power in many dimensions." - Chicago Sun-Times

"Bass John Relyea used his truly menacing, black-toned basso to dominate his scenes as the cruel and arrogant Henry." - Chicago Tribune

"Vocally Relyea was first class, his bass richer and even more commanding than previously.." - Chicago Classical Review

The Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus shine

Debuting conductor Patrick Summers "led a pliant and stylish account of the score." - Chicago Tribune

"The chorus, prepared by Michael Black, added yet another success to its many accomplishments in this extremely busy opera season." - Chicago Tribune

History Comes Alive 

"Designers Neil Patel (sets and properties) and Jessica Jahn (costumes) have created work both sumptuous and undistracting, giving context for the story while allowing it to unfold before us in human terms first" - Chicago Sun-Times

"The courtly intrigues and suspicions that send Anne to the scaffold are symbolized by a large, ever-present chorus of eavesdroppers and spies, arrayed beneath a huge, coffered ceiling. …The design scheme mixes period realism and modern abstraction, while Jahn's costumes adhere to Tudor fashion: dark leather doublets and jerkins, bejeweled crowns, flared sleeves, an ermine mantle for the king." - Chicago Tribune

"The visuals are a knock out. Patel's sleek sets make use of color and a few period elements to suggest an entire environment or dynamic: a coffered ceiling turns the bare stage into a palace, for example, and the royal throne, on a revolving pedestal, is backed by the royal bed." - Chicago Reader

"The set, with massive pieces that descend out of the golden ceiling, adds its own dimension to the drama, suggesting how these characters can easily be crushed under the power of the king (that idea is cashed in memorably in the opera's final moments)." - Crain's Chicago Business

"Neil Patel's set contributes substantially to that with its imposing Tudor ceiling from which walls and set pieces descend for the scene changes. The illusion of massive weight is convincing and reminds us of how these characters are, in some ways, imprisoned in the splendor of their surroundings." - KDHX

Photo credits

  • Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago production photos credit Todd Rosenberg and Robert Kusel

 

Midsummer meistersinger Jamie Barton

American mezzo Jamie Barton wins big in Cardiff! Jamie has been awarded both the title of Cardiff Singer of the World and the Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize. She is only the second singer in the competition's history to win both awards.  

JamieBartonWins

American mezzo Jamie Barton wins big in Cardiff! Jamie has been awarded both the title of Cardiff Singer of the World and the Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize. She is only the second singer in the competition's history to win both awards. 

Following her win, Jamie graciously posted to Facebook:

"I cannot begin to describe the feeling'When you wish upon a star' comes to mind! So many thanks to those involved with the competitionthe staff, the adjudicators, and my fellow competitors, who are just as beautiful people as they are artists. I look forward to meeting all of you down the road in the life of our careerswhat incredible music will be made!"

British classical music critic Mike Smith reviews Jamie's magnificent performance in the final concert: 

"The 31-year-old’s cleverly structured programme comprised a perfect aria from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, displaying her smooth melting mezzo before giving a characterful Witch’s aria from Hänsel und Gretel. Her Sibelius was hauntingly beautiful and her closing choice of Dido’s dark and gorgeous aria from Berlioz’s Les Troyens meticulously sung and a clear competition clincher." 

Congratulations to a Lyric favorite, meistersinging mezzo Jamie Barton!

Learn more about the Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

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Magdalene in MEISTERSINGER a meistersinger in Cardiff!

Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who earlier this year thrilled Lyric audiences as Magdalene in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, is onstage for another song competition. This week, she's representing the United States of America in the BBC's biennial Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Barton headshotMezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who earlier this year thrilled Lyric audiences as Magdalene in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, is onstage for another song competition. This week, she's representing the United States of America in the BBC's biennial Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Twenty early-career opera and concert singers from around the world convene in Cardiff to represent their home countries. Each competitor sings a program in one of four preliminary concerts, each judged by an international panel of experts. The five highest-scoring singers advance to the final concert. All singers receive tremendous international exposure, and the winner of the final concert is awarded £15,000 and a trophy. 

The finalists will be announced later today. Jamie won the first prelim, so her chances of making the Sunday, June 23 final are strong! Go USA!

Jamie also has been named a finalist for the parallel Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize. For the Song Prize final concert, taking place tomorrow, June 21 at 7:30pm GMT, Jamie will sing Purcell, Brahms, Sibelius, and Rachmaninoff.

Can't tune in to the BBC? Support Jamie by browsing the photo gallery of her Lyric appearances below and by listening on 98.7WFMT and wfmt.com to the Lyric Opera of Chicago Broadcasts rebroadcast of Die Meistersinger at noon on June 22!

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