Lyric Opera of Chicago

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A Glittering Diamond Anniversary Season!

Today, Lyric's Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis, with creative consultant Renée Fleming joining from New York,  announced the complete lineup of operas, musicals, recitals, recitals, and other special events that make up the spectacular 2014-15 season.

SeasonAnnouncement

In the continuing subzero temperatures, Lyric Opera of Chicago gave opera fans something to look forward to—its Diamond Anniversary. Today, Lyric's Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis, with creative consultant Renée Fleming joining from New York,  announced the complete lineup of operas, musicals, recitals, and other special events that make up the spectacular 2014-15 season.

Lyric's 60th anniversary season is a blockbuster lineup of new productions, returning stars, and reinventions of perennial favorites. Today would have been Mozart's 258th birthday, so it was only fitting to announce that a new production of Don Giovanni—directed by the legendary Robert Falls and conducted by Sir Andrew Davis—kicks off next season. This production, running from September 27-October 29, features Mariusz Kwiecien in the title role and Marina Rebeka, Ana María Martínez, and Ryan Opera Center alum Andriana Chuchman as the trio of women he seduces. Don Giovanni also opened Lyric's first season in 1954!

Creative consultant Renée Fleming shines in Capriccio  (October 6-28)  as the Countess, which she was quick to point out is one of her favorite roles. Fleming has performed this role many times with Anne Sofie von Otter (Clairon) and Bo Skovhus (the Count). They are joined by William Burden, Auden Iversen in his Lyric debut, and Peter Rose with Sir Andrew Davis on the podium for this elegant masterpiece.

Verdi's dramatic Il Trovatore  (October 27-November 29) returns with the David McVicar production, with Leah Hausman as revival director/choreographer and Asher Fisch conducting. Trovatore is a massive spectacle that has some of the largest sets and cast requirements of all the operas in Lyric's current arsenal. The principals are Yonghoon Lee, Ryan Opera Center alumna Amber Wagner, the phenomenal Stephanie Blythe, and Ryan Opera Center alum Quinn Kelsey.

Eric Owens, who was just announced as Wotan for Lyric's upcoming Ring cycle, graces the stage in the title role of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (November 17-December 20)—which Freud considers "one of the greatest of all 20th century operas" with Adina Aaron debuting as Bess. Jermaine Smith, Eric Greene, and Angel Blue (also a debut), round out the main cast in this revival of Francesca Zambello's acclaimed production. Fomer Lyric Opera Orchestra principal trombone Ward Stare returns after this season's triumphant Die Fledermaus to conduct.

Sondra Radvanovsky returns to Lyric as the title role in Donizetti's Anna Bolena  (December 6-January 16, 2015), a work which Freud described as "a dream of history." Jamie Barton, who just won the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, portrays Jane Seymour. Bryan Hymel makes his Lyric debut as Percy and John Relyea is Henry VIII. This new Lyric production is directed by Kevin Newbury, who is also directing the upcoming Lyric commission Bel Canto, and Patrick Summers makes his podium debut.

Puccini's Tosca is one of the monuments in operatic repertoire. Lyric gives it a new production directed by John Caird, who directed this season's Parsifal, with an intriguing double cast (January 24-March 14, 2015). Tatiana Serjan (making her debut) and Hui He share the title role, with Misha Didyk and Jorge de Leon both debuting as Cavaradossi, and Evgeny Nikitin (debut) and Mark Delavan appearing as the villainous Scarpia. Both casts are led by conductor Dmitri Jurowski, also making his debut.

Wagner's lush and melodic Tannhäuser  (January 24-March 14, 2015) explores the dramatic tension between cerebral and erotic love. Taking on one of Wagner's most memorable scores, Sir Andrew Davis leads a stellar cast that includes Johan Botha, Amber Wagner (appearing for a second time in the season) as Elisabeth, Michaela Schuster as Venus, and Gerald Finley as Wolfram, which Freud calls "absolute dream casting."

The last opera of the season is Weinberg's The Passenger, the powerful and gripping work that tells a story of the Holocaust through two women—Auschwitz prisoner Marta and her sadistic guard Liese—running from February 24-March 15, 2015.  Though the opera was announced on January 17 along with the new Ring cycle (read more about that special announcement), the full cast was formalized with Ryan Opera Center alum Amanda Majeski, Daveda Karanas, Brandon Jovanovich, and Joshua Hopkins creating the four main characters: Marta, Liese, Liese's husband Walter, and Marta's fiancé Tadeusz.

Finally, Carousel continues the American Musical Theater Initiative, running from April 10-26, 2015 with the remarkable Denyce Graves making her role debut as Nettie Fowler. Rob Ashford, who is making his Lyric and operatic debut later this week with The Barber of Seville, returns to direct this most operatic of Rodgers & Hammerstein's musicals featuring such beloved songs as "If I Loved You" and "You'll Never Walk Alone." Additional casting details to be announced soon!

Freud and Davis were also able to announce the following very special programming for the 60th anniversary:

  • 60th anniversary gala concert - Renée Fleming headlines a very special tribute to Lyric's first 60 years on November 1. Fleming will perform a special collaboration with jazz legend Ramsey Lewis-which Fleming said had been on his wish list for years. Also appearing are opera world luminaries Susan Graham, Ana María Martínez, Sondra Radvanovsky, Johan Botha, Eric Owens, and Samuel Ramey. A very special surprise celebrity emcee (start guessing now!) will also be on hand to host the evening.
  • The Magic Victrola  - an all new family presentation! For those who loved Popcorn & Pasquale and are looking forward to the upcoming The Family Barber, in 2014-15 Lyric presents The Magic Victrola, a kid-friendly introduction to opera that features music by Verdi, Puccini, and more on January 17, 2015! A presentation of Lyric Unlimited.
  • A brand-new mariachi opera! Lyric is proud to host the world premiere of El Pasado Nunca Se Termina (The Past is Never Finished), by Jose "Pepe" Martínez and Leonard Foglia  on March 28 and 29, 2015. This story weaves together Halley's Comet and the eve of the Mexican Revolution into a boiling clash of cultures and generations that it still playing out today.  A presentation of Lyric Unlimited.
  • Lang Lang returns! After playing a dual role at this year's Grammy Awards—rocking with Metallica and introducing the "In Memoriam" segment—Lang Lang returns to the Civic Opera House for his only Chicago-area appearance in 2015 on May 9, 2015.

A “Super” Showcase for Renée Fleming

Lyric's own creative consultant Renée Fleming was just announced as the performer of the National Anthem as part of the Super Bowl XLVIII pregame festivities at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, February 2.

ReneeFleming

Lyric's own creative consultant Renée Fleming was just announced as the performer of the National Anthem as part of the Super Bowl XLVIII pregame festivities at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, February 2.

This will mark Renée's Super Bowl debut and the first time that an opera singer has performed the anthem in Super Bowl history.

Read the full report at New Jersey's own Star-Ledger. And tune in to FOX on February 2—the anthem will be performed at approximately 5 p.m. CST!

Photo credit: Andrew Eccles / Decca

Renée Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma Together Again!

On December 11, Lyric Opera of Chicago creative consultant Renée Fleming joined Chicago Symphony Orchestra creative consultant Yo-Yo Ma at a key event supporting arts education in the Chicago Public Schools. 

On December 11, Lyric Opera of Chicago creative consultant Renée Fleming joined Chicago Symphony Orchestra creative consultant Yo-Yo Ma at a key event supporting arts education in the Chicago Public Schools.

To an audience of CPS principals, network chiefs, teachers, and students, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that 45 schools would be receiving funding for art learning opportunities. These awards are the inaugural grants from the newly created Creative Schools Fund, which is part of the CPS Arts Education Plan. 

Among the 45 grantees are seven schools that have participated in Lyric Unlimited’s educational programs this season: Charles R. Darwin Elementary School, George Armstrong International Studies Elementary School, Henry Clay Elementary School, Hiram H. Belding Elementary School, Jordan Elementary Community School, Kenwood Academy High School, and Lionel Hampton Fine & Performing Arts Elementary School.

After remarks from Lyric Opera general director Anthony Freud and the announcement from the mayor, Renée spoke passionately about the transformative power of arts in schools. The daughter of two public school music teachers, she described being a shy teenager who found her voice and a way of expressing herself through music and poetry.  

The event featured performances from student groups, including a choir from Gallery 37, an afterschool choral program for CPS students that is also one of five participants in Lyric’s Vocal Partnership Program. This expanded program, part of Lyric Unlimited, gives students the opportunity to learn about opera and develop their skills through special events such as Lyric Opera performances and rehearsals, backstage tours, and master classes and conversations with main stage artists.

Kiela Nelson, a member of the Gallery 37 choir, is also part of Lyric’s new Youth Opera Council. She and her fellow singers met and mingled with Renée Fleming after the event.

Renée and Yo-Yo also performed a delightful rendition of “Winter Wonderland,” a nod to the arctic temperatures in Chicago and across the nation.  

Lyric and the CSO are the lead arts partners for the CPS Arts Education Plan. As part of that collaboration, Fleming and Ma have been named National Cultural Advisors, providing guidance to CPS and the Mayor’s Office and raising awareness of the importance of the arts for every child in every classroom.

Both artists were present in October 2012 when Mayor Emanuel first announced the CPS Arts Education Plan at Perez Elementary School. And earlier that year, Renée and Yo-Yo joined members of the CSO and CPS students in a special performance at the Thompson Center designed to bring attention to the importance of the arts in the lives of students.

 

Get the full details about these grants from the Mayor’s Office. 

 

Read more from Mark Caro in the Chicago Tribune. 

 

Photos: Todd Rosenberg Photography
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Insider's Guide to MADAMA BUTTERFLY

Insider's Guide to Madama Butterfly. Watch Sir Andrew Davis, Renée Fleming, and Anthony Freud discuss Puccini's masterpiece, listen to audio previews, and more!

Patricia Racette and Stefano Secco assume the roles of Butterfly and Pinkerton when Puccini's Madama Butterfly returns to Lyric January 11-26. Experience the love, loss, and ultimate sacrifice of this deeply romantic tragedy.

Plot synopsis.

Read an article about Lyric's new production.

Further reading: "The Obi and the Dagger: Tradition plays a powerful role in the world of Puccini's Cio-Cio-San" by Geraldine Otani Grine and Director's Note.



Music director Sir Andrew Davis, creative consultant Renée Fleming, and general director Anthony Freud discuss Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly:



Madama Butterfly Discovery Series

Puccini’s East-meets-West heartbreaker is one of the most popular operas of all time. Amanda Echalaz (Cio-Cio-San), James Valenti (Pinkerton), and conductor Marco Armiliato discuss how this early 20th century blockbuster engages us on many different levels. Moderated by dramaturg Roger Pines.

Download (right click and "Save Target As" / "Save Link As")

Madama Butterfly Audio Preview

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

 

Madama Butterfly Commentary

Madama Butterfly 
by Giacomo Puccini

© 2013/14 Lyric Opera Commentaries 

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

 

Download (right click and "Save Target As" / "Save Link As")

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