Lyric Opera of Chicago

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CRUZAR by the numbers

"...[A] moving story with universal appeal, performed with enormous zest and color..." – John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune                                   


 • "...[A] moving story with universal appeal, performed with enormous zest and color..." – John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

• "...[A] remarkably compelling and compact work... [A] persuasive immigration story told in heartfelt musical terms..." – Dennis Polkow, Newcity Stage

• "...[A]n emotional journey for the audience, especially for those who are reminded of their own story or that of a relative..."– Gisela Orozco, Hoy Chicago 

• "The energy of Martinez and his fellow musicians was tremendous. ...All the songs were beautifully performed by the Vargas group and the actor-singers." – Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times  

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, the world's first mariachi opera, first commissioned by Lyric general director Anthony Freud when he was with Houston Opera, is the story of "one family, two countries, one life-changing secret."  Presented in April by Lyric Unlimited, the new audience development and community engagement branch of Lyric Opera. Let's look a little bit closer at Cruzar by the numbers

• Approximately 7520 total audience members attended Cruzar la Cara de la Luna at one of 5 performances.

• Cruzar was presented at 3 venues in 3 different neighborhoods: the Civic Opera House in Chicago's Loop, Benito Juárez Academy in Pilsen on Chicago's South Side, and the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan on Chicago's North Shore.

• 42% of the Cruzar audience members at the Civic Opera House were attending their first performance at Lyric.

• 2 internationally renowned mariachi groups performed in Cruzar in Chicago: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and Mariachi Aztlán.

• Cruzar is the 1st Spanish-language composition performed at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Chicago Tribune classical music critic John von Rhein summarizes: "By presenting the Midwest premiere of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon) as the latest project of its Lyric Unlimited program, the company fulfilled several objectives. It reached out to members of the city’s Mexican and Latino communities through an art form many of them had never experienced before. It promoted cross-cultural understanding. It called attention to the multicultural diversity and vitality that help to make Chicago unique among major American cities. It made potential new friends for the company while exposing Lyric regulars to a more populist form of entertainment than they are used to." BRAVO to all who made Cruzar a tremendous success

New staging of a contemporary American opera

"Fully costumed (excellently by Johann Stegmeir) and directed with great flair and imagination by Brad Dalton, the artful staging, though clearly minimalist with no sets, worked very well indeed, aided immensely by Duane Schuler’s atmospheric lighting." – Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

A Streetcar Named Desire

It's not a surprise that LOC Creative Consultant Renée Fleming, barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Ryan Opera Center alumna Susanna Phillips, and the rest of the cast of A Streetcar Named Desire garnered rave reviews!  But what did critics think of the design and Brad Dalton's inventive new "semi-staging," which included the Lyric Opera Orchestra onstage in place of full sets?

• "Kudos to Lyric Opera of Chicago, which is giving André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire a four-performance run. Streetcar is a significant recent opera, and its inclusion contributes much to the tradition of programming new works in this house. While the production has been described in the press as semi-staged, the only elements absent were actual backdrops, whether painted or constructed. There were sufficient props, including tables, chairs, a bed, and other items—to create images of the Kowalski flat and the drama in one’s mind. And since it was placed at the rear of the stage, the orchestra itself became part of the setting. The result gave the audience the opportunity to hear Previn’s detailed score, and the layout appeared to give conductor Evan Rogister greater ability to interact with both the musicians and the principals." – James L. Zychowicz, Seen and Heard International

• "...This more ethereal, though fully costumed and acted production may be the most compelling way to present this three-act American tragedy." Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times

• "Fully costumed (excellently by Johann Stegmeir) and directed with great flair and imagination by Brad Dalton, the artful staging, though clearly minimalist with no sets, worked very well indeed, aided immensely by Duane Schuler’s atmospheric lighting." – Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review          

• "Director Dalton made a convincing, semi-abstract theater space out of the stage, using chairs, a table, a bed and Blanche's trunk as the main props, which a group of six cigarette-smoking hunks moved around to define the various scenes. Johann Stegmeir designed the costumes, including a succession of 1940s-style dresses for Fleming. The stage space, lit by Duane Schuler, became more and more surreal as Blanche's mind began to collapse and her ties to reality grew ever more tenuous." John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune  

All performances of Lyric's regular run of André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire are currently sold out.  However, Chicago audiences can still catch this stunning production at a special student night performance!


European superstars join Lyric's LA BOHÈME

"There's a lot of charisma on display," says Wynne Delacoma of Anna Netrebko and Joseph Calleja.  The friends and frequent collaborators join Lyric's second cast of La Bohème as Mimì and Rodolfo.  Read the rave reviews!

Netrebko and Calleja in La Boheme

"There's a lot of charisma on display," says Wynne Delacoma of Anna Netrebko and Joseph Calleja.  The friends and frequent collaborators join Lyric's second cast of La Bohème as Mimì and Rodolfo.  Read the rave reviews:

• "This was Netrebko's night.  The voice is without question extraordinary, the impact profound, the impression sincere.  she has a way of stretching melodic lines into lingering threads of delicacy, beyond what would seem probable or even technically possible, which is the diva's art, yet the Lyric Opera Orchestra under Emmanuel Villaume stayed with her all the way. You tell me which aspect of Netrebko is the most immediately striking – that voluptuous voice, the expressive singularity, the musical instinct, the acting clout, the stunning physical beauty and grace.  One could go on[.]" – Nancy Malitz, Chicago on the Aisle     

• "The Russian soprano truly is the complete package – a strikingly beautiful woman possessed of a rich creamy voice and an assured and credible actress to boot. Netrebko’s luminous rendering of 'Mi chiamano Mimì' was as intimate and affecting as it was beautifully sung, her 'Donde liete usci,' human and expressively nuanced. Dramatically, the soprano brought a vivid characterization to the gentle seamstress." – Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review   

• "[W]hat a pleasure to hear the role of the poet Rodolfo sung with such ardent tone and ease of production. Calleja has a notably vibrant tenor with a quick vibrato that lends excitement to his singing (recalling the great Giacomo Lauri-Volpi). His 'Che gelida manina' was real opera story-telling, done with an easy legato and clarion high C. (Calleja also inserted the spurious top C in 'O soave fanciulla' but with his kind of ringing high notes, who’s complaining?) Calleja was just as superb and insightful dramatically as his famous costar, entering fully into the high-jinks with his fellow Bohemians, and bringing understated acting and a credible human dimension to Rodolfo." – Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review  

• "It was wonderful to have Calleja back, especially in a part that's so congenial for him vocally and that he inhabits with such winning energy.  The tenorial sound he poured out on Saturday was gleaming, even and powerful, its quick vibrato apt for conveying Rodolfo's passionate and volatile nature....Calleja earned the torrent of applause he received on Saturday." – John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune  

The critics were enraptured, as were the audience members interviewed below: 

Photo: Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago.

A night of exciting debuts in RIGOLETTO!

Opening night of Rigoletto featured several artists making prominent Lyric Opera of Chicago debuts. 

Dobber Rigoletto

Opening night of Rigoletto featured several artists making prominent Lyric Opera of Chicago debuts. Critics are raving about their performances:

• "The success of any Rigoletto hinges on the singer in the title role and, in his Chicago debut, Andrzej Dobber delivered the vocal goods in quite sensational fashion. The role of the embittered hunchback fits the Polish baritone's instrument like a perfectly tailored suit, Dobber possessing the requisite big, flexible baritone to encompass all the role's considerable demands. Singing with great ease of production, Dobber was able to float a honeyed Italianate legato in his tender moments with Gilda as well as deliver the dramatic moments as with his vehement 'Cortigniani,' where Rigoletto sings of his intense hatred for the nobles who torment him." – Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

• "...[I]t was a pleasure to see Todd Thomas make his belated Chicago debut as Monterone. A veteran of countless roles in Sarasota Opera’s decades-long complete Verdi project, the baritone invested Monterone’s curse upon Rigoletto with daunting force and intensity." – Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review 

• "...In Albina Shagimuratova, the superb Russian soprano who was making her Lyric debut as Gilda, the company has found a shining star indeed. She walked away with the show. Gilda is, of course, one of the great coloratura soprano roles in Italian opera, and Shagimuratova fulfilled its every requirement thrillingly. She traced the florid phrases of 'Caro nome' with meltingly expressive phrasing, ample colorings and a clear, shining, beautiful sound that carried easily over the orchestra. Where full-bodied lyricism was needed, notably in Gilda's two duets with her father, her singing went straight to the heart. Indeed, Gilda's dying fade to a hushed pianissimo held the audience at rapt attention at the very end. Not for nothing did the soprano receive a rapturous standing ovation on opening night." – John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

• "Mezzo-soprano Nicole Piccolomini was also making her Lyric debut as Maddalena, really shining both vocally and dramatically in her saucy scene with the Duke, as well as in her interaction with her brother and assassin Sparafucile." – Dennis Polkow, New City 

• ''[Another] impressive debut of the evening was conductor Evan Rogister. Unlike many opera batonsmiths, the young American started his career as a singer, which was manifest in his alert and sensitive accompaniment to the cast and impeccable balancing, conveying Verdian fire while drawing an array of hues and dynamic subtleties. Rogister will also lead the Lyric's March-April performances of Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, and is clearly a young talent on the rise." – Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

Don't miss these artists in their Lyric debut production! Purchase your Rigoletto tickets today!


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