Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric to present Wagner's Parsifal

Lyric Opera of Chicago to present new production
of Richard Wagner’s epic final work
Opening Saturday, November 9 at 6:00 pm

Just 6 performances through November 29
starring Paul Groves, Daveda Karanas, and Thomas Hampson
Sir Andrew Davis conducts, John Caird directs

Only the greatest opera companies in the world have the resources and orchestral forces to mount the massive and complex masterpieces of Richard Wagner. In November Lyric Opera of Chicago ;will do just that with a new production of the German composer’s final masterpiece, Parsifal.

Composer Claude Debussy declared Parsifal to be “one of the most beautiful monuments erected to the eternal glory of music.” What better way to commemorate Wagner’s bicentennial year than with a powerful new production conducted by Lyric’s music director, Sir Andrew Davis, and staged by the brilliant British director John Caird? The company will present just six performances of Parsifal, Nov. 9-29.

Conflicts between the sacred and the profane, the carnal and the spiritual are the central themes of this epic work. Parsifal exudes emotional fervor and spirituality, and its multifaceted characters provide endless food for thought. “Director John Caird and designer Johan Engels have created a spatial world within which the characters can be seen and come to life,” says Lyric’s general director Anthony Freud. “There’s no shortage of spectacle.”

Parsifal (tenor Paul Groves) finds his way to the castle of Monsalvat, where a brotherhood of knights, led by their king, Amfortas (baritone Thomas Hampson), keep watch over the Holy Grail. The old knight Gurnemanz (bass Kwangchul Youn, debut) leads Parsifal to the Grail, but Parsifal does not understand the knights’ ritual and Gurnemanz sends him away. He begins to mature as a human being when the mysterious Kundry (mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, debut) is sent by the sorcerer Klingsor (baritone Tómas Tómasson) to seduce him. Parsifal’s rejection of her, his pursuit of spiritual awakening, and his return to the knights unfold in the profoundly moving final act of the opera.

Lyric Opera music director Sir Andrew Davis will conduct the new production, directed byJohn Caird* and designed by Johan Engels*, with lighting design by Duane Schuler. The chorus master is Michael Black and the choreographer is Tim Claydon*.

Lyric’s first performances of Parsifal, in the 1986-87 season, starred Jon Vickers in the title role. The only other time it has been presented at Lyric was in the 2001-02 season, starring Gösta Winbergh in the title role.

Parsifal will be sung in German with projected English texts with 6 performances beginning at 6pm, except for matinee at 1pm: Nov. 9, 13, 17(m), 22, 25, 29.

The new Lyric Opera production of Parsifal is generously made possible by an Anonymous Donor, The Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, Marlys A. Beider, and the Kenneth L. Harder Trust.

*Lyric debut