Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Lately

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.

Live-streamed to the world, Lyric announces a new RING and PASSENGER premiere

Ringheads rejoice! Today in a live-streamed press conference Lyric's Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis announced that the company will mount an all-new production of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen beginning in the 2016/17 season.

RING press conference

Ringheads rejoice! Today in a live-streamed press conference, Lyric's Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis announced that the company will mount an all-new production of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, led by conductor Sir Andrew Davis and director David Pountney and starring Lyric favorites Christine Goerke and Eric Owens. Rounding out the creative team are set designer Johan Engels, costume designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca, and lighting designer Fabrice Kebour.

Goerke and Owens play Brünnhilde and Wotan, the legendary father-daughter duo whose fraught relationship provides the four-opera cycle with its powerful emotional center.

Along with the entire creative team, Goerke was present at the press conference. Last seen at Lyric absolutely owning Strauss's Elektra in her company debut, Goerke is thrilled to return in such a high-profile role: "I'm beyond excited to do it. Aside from the fact that there's such a familial feeling at Lyric, it's the sight of that house, the space of that house - it's so grand, it suits the music so well, and it suits the scenes so well."   

Goerke shared that her first experience with Wagner was singing the Third Norn, but she always dreamed of being Brünnhilde: "I would stand on the side of the stage and watch the Prologue of Götterdämmerung and think, 'Oh, if some day just once I could do this.' Some day has arrived, which is remarkable."

This Ring cycle marks the first time that Eric Owens will sing Wotan, the king of all the gods. Though Owens has been offered the role of Wotan several times, he was finally tempted to accept Lyric's offer because of the ideal circumstances: "To do one opera per season and then to do the full cycle was the perfect fit, and in a company where I've performed so many times with people I adore, and with the whole atmosphere of the company being so nurturing. When you're stepping out into the unknown and exploring a role that is so iconic, I think this is just a perfect situation."

Owens, who joined the conference live via Skype, also joked that the toughest part of playing Wotan is "keeping straight the names of all the children!"

Freud and Davis also revealed that Pountney will bring his acclaimed production of the newly rediscovered The Passenger  by Mieczysław Weinberg to Lyric in the 2014/15 season. Written in 1967-68 but not fully staged until 2010, The Passenger tells the haunting and deeply powerful story of a chance encounter of a Holocaust survivor and her Nazi overseer. Weinberg was a Holocaust survivor and contemporary of Shostakovich, who lavishly praised Weinberg's work-which was frequently suppressed by the Soviet regime.

This production, first seen at the Bregenz Festival in 2010, shares the same core creative team (Pountney, Engles, Lecca, and Kebour) as Lyric's new Ring cycle. Full casting for The Passenger will be announced on January 27, along with the rest of Lyric's 2014-15 60th anniversary season. Come back to Lyric Lately for more details on that date!

The full schedule of Ring performances is:

2016/17
Das Rheingold
Performances begin October 1, 2016

2017/18
Die Walküre
Performances begin in early November 2017

2018/19
Siegfried
Performances begin in early November 2018

2019/20
Götterdämmerung
Performances begin in late March 2020

2020
Three complete Ring cycles
First cycle begins in April 2020

For those who are truly planning ahead, Das Rheingold goes on sale with the rest of the 2016-17 season in early 2016, and the full Ring cycle will be on sale in 2018. Mark your calendars NOW!

Photo credit: Jaclyn Simpson for Lyric Opera of Chicago. 

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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OTELLO Audio Preview by Sir Andrew Davis

Listen to Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric's renowned music director, share the synopsis and excerpts from Verdi's Otello in this audio preview.

 

Otello Audio Preview

Lyric's renowned music director shares the synopsis and excerpts from Verdi's Otello.

Recordings used by permission of EMI Classics.

 

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