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Lyric U: Baritones in opera

Have you tuned into Lyric U? Check out our new video library, which starts with an in-depth exploration of the baritone in opera with Sir Andrew Davis, Anthony Freud, and Renée Fleming. Plus, check out some video highlights of the greatest baritone arias on stage this season.

Have you tuned into Lyric U? It's Lyric's new resource for things opera, giving everyone an easy way to explore, discover, and engage. Whether you're new to the art form and looking for Opera 101 or an aficionado who wants to earn a PhD in Advanced Opera Studies, let Lyric U guide the way with this ever-expanding video library.

One of the new features on Lyric U is "From Soprano to Bass: Exploring Voice in Opera." Sir Andrew Davis, Renée Fleming, and Anthony Freud are your guides through the seven different categories of the human voice in this in-depth video series.

The first video in the series focuses on the baritone. This vocal range might be stuck in the middle of tenor and bass, but the baritone is definitely not a voice that can be easily overlooked. Some of the most famous roles in opera are portrayed by baritones-the ultimate bad boy in Mozart's Don Giovanni, the resourceful fixer Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville, the king of the gods Wotan in Wagner's Ring cycle, and the great title roles in Verdi's Rigoletto, Falstaff, and Simon Boccanegra

 

Want to hear more? Below are video samples of some of the great baritone showcases that you can hear as part of Lyric's 2014-15 season.

Il Trovatore  - "Il balen del suo sorriso"

In Act 2 "The Gypsy" of Verdi's Il Trovatore, the villainous Count di Luna sings of his devotion to Leonora, who has decided to enter a convent because she believes her true love Manrico is dead. Though di Luna's song speaks to a beautiful love, he is actually plotting to kidnap her - thinking that the convent is the only obstacle to their happiness. Ryan Opera Center alum Quinn Kelsey takes on the role at Lyric from October 27 to November 29. 

 

(Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Metropolitan Opera, 2011)

Porgy and Bess  - "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'"

This quintessential American opera has many timeless songs, including "Summertime" and "Bess, You Is My Woman Now, but one of Porgy's most famous arias is this ode to his simple life. Lyric favorite Eric Owens brings this iconic role to Chicago from November 17 to December 20. 

 

(Lawrence Winters, Columbia Masterworks recording, 1951)

Tosca - Te Deum

Scarpia, the police chief who is ruthlessly hunting the rebel artist Cavaradossi, sings of his lust and terrible plan to force Tosca into loving him, against the backdrop of a prayer. This season, two singers take on this villianous role: Evgeny Nikitin (Lyric debut, January 24 to February 5) and Mark Delavan (February 27 to March 14). 

 

(George Gagnidze, Metropolitan Opera, 2009)

Tannhäuser  - "O du mein holder Abendstern" (Song of the Evening Star)

This aria from Act 3 of Tannhäuser is in the pantheon of one of the most beautiful arias ever written, and is one of Wagner's most haunting melodies. Wolfram von Eschenbach loves the faithful and chaste Elisabeth, but she is in love with Tannhäuser; in this aria, he has a premonition of her death. Gerald Finley stars as Wolfram at Lyric from February 9 to March 6. 

 

(Peter Mattei, Staatsoper Berlin, 2014)

Don Giovanni  - "Deh vieni all finestra"

While posing as his right-hand man Leporello, Don Giovanni serenades the maid of his former conquest Donna Elvira with this lovely aria from Act Two. Mariusz Kwiecień stars in Lyric's hot-blooded new production through October 29. 

 

(Bryn Terfel, Metropolitan Opera, 2000)

Photo credits:

  • Top row: Quinn Kelsey (credit Dan Rest / Lyric Opera of Chicago); Evgeny Nikitin (credit Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera)
  • Bottom row: Eric Owens in Porgy and Bess (credit Terrence McCarthy / San Francisco Opera); Mariusz Kwiecień stars as the title role in Don Giovanni (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll: DON GIOVANNI design preview

Can't wait for opening night of Lyric's brand-new production of Don Giovanni on September 27? Here's a sneak peek at some of the production's design elements to whet your appetite.

Can't wait for opening night of Lyric's brand-new production of Don Giovanni on September 27? Here's a sneak peek at some of the production's design elements to whet your appetite. 

Director Robert Falls and his creative team have updated the setting to 1920s Spain. "Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. It never stops; the perfect opera in many ways," as Falls told Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times.  

This updating of the opera's traditional setting (a first for Lyric!) gave set designer Walt Spangler a lot of room to play. Here's a look at the set and some of the period details that will be showcased on stage, including the motorcycle belonging to the fiery Donna Elvira. 

And here are some more casual close-ups of some of the production's props, snapped backstage during summer tech week. Pictured are some of the faux grapes that make up the onstage vineyard, the Commendatore's coffin, benches being stored backstage (these will be pews for the funeral scene), and some of the beautiful details on Don Giovanni's massive dinner table.

But the sets are only half of the fun. Here are some of the fabulous 1920s-inspired looks that innovative costume designer Ana Kuzmanic has created for the characters.

(Top row: Designs for Don Giovanni, Donna Elvira, and Donna Anna;
Bottom row: Designs for Leporello, Zerlina, and Don Ottavio)

Craving more? Get the inside scoop from the design team in this video:

 

Photo credits:

  • Don Giovanni set photos credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Don Giovanni summer tech photos credit Carrie Krol / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Don Giovanni design sketches credit Ana Kuzmanic

Sir Andrew’s Busy Summer

Lyric's eminent music director, Sir Andrew Davis, is back in Chicago preparing for our spectacular season-opening production of Don Giovanni. But where has he been all summer? Learn about his incredibly busy summer of globetrotting. 

Lyric's eminent music director, Sir Andrew Davis, is back in Chicago preparing for our spectacular season-opening production of Don Giovanni. He's been in town since late August to start preparations for Giovanni and to lead the annual Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park on September 6. He ended last season with an acclaimed production of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito on March 23—but where has he been in between Mozart operas? Perhaps it's better to ask, "Where hasn't he been?"

In the span of a few short months, he's traveled from Chicago to Boston to London to New York to Toronto to Leipzig to Bergen to Manchester to Berlin back to Bergen to Melbourne back to Chicago back to London back to Melbourne to Edinburgh back to London back to Edinburgh to Amsterdam to Ulrichshusen to Copenhagen to Chicago! 3 continents, 14 cities, 34 performances, 2 recordings—all in 59 days…with a few precious moments in the middle for vacation.

Here are just three concert highlights from his incredible summer.

First Night of the Proms 

On July 18, Sir Andrew had the distinct honor of conducting the First Night of the BBC Proms. Davis was a familiar face on the podium in the 1990s as the former chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, so this season marked a triumphant return. The Proms are the largest classical music festival in the world, and the evening was a showcase for Sir Andrew and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and the National Chorus of Wales. They performed Elgar's biblical oratorio The Kingdom with soloists Erin Wall (a Ryan Opera Center alumna!), Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Andrew Staples, and Christopher Purves

This was only the second time that this piece had been performed at the BBC Proms in its entirety (the first time also had Sir Andrew on the podium), and the result was magnificent. Here is just some of the praise from critics:

 "Once again balancing sumptuousness and transparency, he drew vivid playing from the orchestra, from the silvery violins down to the lowest depths of the Albert Hall organ, which was sometimes a big beast but often quiet enough merely to disturb the sweltering air in the hall." - Erica Jeal, The Guardian

"Andrew Davis made sure Elgar's amazingly colourful orchestration was touched in with a delicate chiaroscuro…. It would be easy to indulge the swirling harps and slithering chromatic basses, but by keeping the whole thing on a tight rein Davis ensured the integrity of the whole was preserved." Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Tour

In addition to his role here at Lyric, Sir Andrew is also Chief Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, a position he took on in 2013. This summer, he conducted a number of concerts in Melbourne, but he also lead the orchestra on an incredible European tour. Stops included the Edinburgh International Festival, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival at Ulrichshusen in Germany, and the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen. Here's a short preview of their appearance from the Edinburgh Festival:

 

In addition to these prestigious festivals, the tour opened with the orchestra's BBC Proms debut on August 19  at Royal Albert Hall in London. As John Allison pointed out in his interview with Sir Andrew in The Telegraph, "No orchestra making its  Proms debut could wish for a better guide to that institution's rituals than Sir Andrew Davis, one of the most familiar faces in recent Proms history and a particular favourite of Last Night  audiences."

Read more about this tour at MSO's Backstage Blog from reporter Michael Shmith.

The Dream of Gerontius in Berlin 

As if the BBC Proms and a triumphant tour weren't enough, Sir Andrew found time to pop over to Germany to lead another great Elgar composition, The Dream of Gerontius, at the  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin on June 1. Joining them were the combined choruses of the Rundfunkchor Berlin and RIAS Kammerchor and featured soloists Sarah Connolly, Brindley Sherratt, and Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts.

 

The piece, which describes a dying man of faith reflecting on his life, is widely considered Elgar's greatest choral work-one that cemented his reputation as a great composer—and is a great favorite of Sir Andrew's. This performance in Berlin was part of what could be called a "summer of Elgar" for Sir Andrew. He also performed The Dream of Gerontius with the the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with whom he also performed The Kingdom (at the Proms) and The Apostles, thus performing all three of Elgar's oratorios in the span of just a few months!

But wait...there's more!

In addition to these highlights, Sir Andrew led concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic, and found time for recording sessions with the BBC Philharmonic and Bergen Philharmonic. Plus, he even managed to come back to Chicago for the working sessions for Bel Canto, the world premiere opera that is part of Lyric's 2015-16 season.

Photo credits:

  • Top L: Sir Andrew Davis puts on his shoes before a concert on the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra tour.  Courtesy Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
  • Top R: Sir Andrew leads the First Night of the Proms. Courtesy BBC.
  • Bottom: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra rehearses at Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms. Courtesy Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

Our Diamond Anniversary season has all of the hits

There's something for everyone in Lyric's 2014/15 season, including some of opera's must recognizable music from Don Giovanni, Il Trovatore, Tosca, and more! Read on to see and  hear some of this season's hit tunes. 

There's something for everyone in Lyric's 2014/15 season, including some of opera's must recognizable tunes. You might know some of these selections outside of their operatic homes—come and see these famous songs as you only can see them at Lyric, with the grandest staging and finest musicians.

Don Giovanni 

On stage September 27 to October 29

The Champagne Aria

Mariusz Kwiecień performs the Champagne Aria from Don Giovanni in this video from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden's 2014 production. The song is an ode to the fabulous party that the Don is planning, yet another occasion for him to add to his list of conquests. Kwiecień plays a Giovanni who has smoldering movie star charisma in Lyric's brand-new production from renowned stage director Robert Falls, which updates the setting to 1920s Spain.

 

 "La ci darem la mano"

This love duet between the duplicitous Don and the naïve Zerlina is one of the most well-known in the operatic repertoire. The odd couple of Luciano Pavarotti and Sheryl Crow have teamed up to perform it in concert! Once again is Mariusz Kwiecień, Lyric's Giovanni, with Mojca Erdmann as Zerlina.

 

(Metropolitan Opera, 2011)

Il Trovatore 

On stage October 27 to November 29

The Anvil Chorus

You've heard it in commercials and in films—now come see it on Lyric's stage! The Anvil Chorus from Verdi's Il Trovatore is one of the most famous tunes in opera. You're sure to be humming it for days after you see it in performance. Here is the incredible scene from director Sir David McVicar's epic production. 

 

(Metropolitan Opera, 2011)

Porgy and Bess 

On stage November 17  to December 20

"Summertime" and more…

Gershwin's Porgy and Bess is filled with an incredible number of songs that have made their way into the popular songbook, including "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin," "It Ain't Necessarily So."  Here's a highlight reel of some of those amazing songs as performed at the San Francisco Opera in 2009 —and this is the very same production that will be right here at Lyric with Eric Owens as Porgy.

 

Tosca 

On stage January 24 to March 14

"Vissi d'arte"

Puccini's gut-wrenching story features a number of incredible musical moments, but none is quite so magical as "Vissi d'arte," Tosca's beautiful aria describing how she's lived for art and love, only to have fate turn against her. This season, you'll have two chances to hear this wonderful piece interpreted with Tatiana Serjan and Hui He both starring in the new-to-Lyric production.

The luminous Sondra Radvanovsky, who will take on the role of Anne Boleyn in Donizetti's Anna Bolena at Lyric later this year, brings this magnificent aria to life. 

 

(Metropolitan Opera, 2011)

Tannhäuser 

On stage February 9 to March 6

The Pilgrim's Chorus

The Pilgrim's Chorus in Act 3 of Tannhäuser is one of Wagner's most beautiful and majestic melodies. The simple melody starts quietly, as the singers are off stage, but grows until the full orchestra and chorus are at full volume. It has become a staple of concert choirs such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was even one of the Wagner melodies quoted in the Bugs Bunny cartoon "What's Opera, Doc?"  We dare you not to be moved.

 

 

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

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