Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Marriage of Figaro Bios

KYLE KETELSEN

Kyle Ketelsen(Figaro)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Méphistophélès/ Faust (2009-10); Masetto/ Don Giovanni (2004-05); Escamillo/ Carmen student matinees (1999-00).
Also this season The  Rake’s Progress, Covent Garden;  Don  Giovanni, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence;  Messiah, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s not Figaro who provides the comedy in this opera,” says the Iowa-born bass-baritone. “The Count has far funnier things to do! In Figaro you have youthful enthusiasm, terrible jealousy, rivalry with the Count. When I pretend that I’ve jumped out the window and sprained my ankle, there’s a tendency to  buffo that up, but I try to make it believable. Figaro has a dark side, as we all do – for example, in his self-pity when he thinks Susanna is cheating on him. He has the  appearance of being jovial, but there are opportunities to insert darker feelings.” Ketelsen’s much-acclaimed Figaro has been widely heard internationally, including his debut at Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice, his return to Barcelona last season, and at Covent Garden, where he is a great favorite (Orlando, Carmen, Maskarade, The Magic  Flute, and on DVD as Leporello /Don Giovanni) . He has appeared at the Hamburg Staatsoper (debut as the four villains/ Les contes  d’Hoffmann, new production); the Metropolitan Opera (Angelotti/ Tosca);Washington National Opera (six roles to date); and the New York City, Minnesota, Glimmerglass, and St. Louis opera companies. During 2008-09 Ketelsen debuted at Netherlands Opera (Escamillo, previously his San Francisco Opera debut vehicle) and made many prestigious concert appearances, including  Pulcinella (CSO, available on CD),  Oedipus Rex (Philharmonia Orchestra), and  The Damnation  of Faust (St. Louis Symphony). Among other major ensembles that have welcomed Ketelsen are the Orchestre National de France, the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, and the major orchestras of Cleveland, Los Angeles, and St. Paul.

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DANIELLE DE NIESE

Danielle de Niese(Susanna)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Cleopatra/ Giulio Cesare (2007-08).
Also this season:  The Marriage of Figaro, Metropolitan Opera;  L’incoronazione di Poppea, Teatro Real (Madrid);  Semele, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (Paris).

“Susanna is one of those magnetic creatures in opera who are in every way a gravitational force,” says the soprano, “with everyone seeming to pull towards her. She’s the pillar of this story – the person who’s there all the time. The purity that remains in her through the opera, even with her smarts and wit, creates a perfect balance that you don’t find in many characters. She’s worldly, connected to the earth, and intrinsically connected to  people. Her greatest asset is her ability to see them for who they are.” De Niese has previously portrayed Susanna at the Metropolitan Opera and Netherlands Opera (where she has also sung Despina/Così fan  tutte). Australian-born and raised in America, she graduated from the young-artist program at the Met, where she debuted at age 19 as Mozart’s Barbarina. She ascended to stardom in 2005 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Cleopatra/ Giulio Cesare (DVD), a role she has sung in Amsterdam(European debut), Paris, Brussels, and at the Met. Other successes include Galatea/ Acis and Galatea (Covent Garden), the title role/ Rodelinda (Toronto), Ginevra/Ariodante (Paris, London, Vienna), and Lauretta/Gianni Schicchi (Los Angeles Opera, Tokyo) . Since debuting in the title role/ L’incoronazione di Poppea at Chicago Opera Theater, (where she has also sung Tytania/ A  Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago)), she has sung the role at Glyndebourne (DVD), the BBC Proms, Lyon, and Amsterdam. Last season her Euridice/Orfeo ed Euridice was seen worldwide in the Met’s HD transmission. The soprano’s discography includes her debut album, “Handel Arias,” and the recently released “Mozart Album” with Sir Charles Mackerras.

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ANNE  SCHWANEWILMS

Anne Schwanewilms(Countess Almaviva)
Previously at Lyric Opera: The Marschallin/Der  Rosenkavalier (2005-06).
Also this season: King Roger, Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona);  Otello, London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre;  Der ferne Klang, Berlin Staatsoper.

“I would like the audience to leave the theater after  The Marriage of Figaro thinking that having humor not just in their relationships but in their  lives will make things easier,” says the German soprano. “In the end, what we’re all saying in the last scene is ‘Don’t take it all too seriously – money, public position, love, sadness.’ The Count and the Countess might not stay together. In two weeks it could change! The day ends at night, the next day starts with morning, and you don’t know what the following day is showing you. That’s the final information of this opera – it leaves things open.” Schwanewilms’s successes in Mozart also include Elettra/Idomeneo (Glyndebourne, London, Berlin, Salzburg). After launching her freelance career in 1996, the soprano rapidly established herself internationally, with triumphant debuts at Glyndebourne (title role/ Euryanthe), Covent Garden (Ariadne), the Salzburg Festival (Carlotta/ Die Gezeichneten, released on DVD), and Santa Fe Opera (Marie/ Wozzec k). She has sung many Strauss heroines at Dresden’s Semperoper, while also starring elsewhere as the Marschallin (Paris, Berlin, São Paolo), Chrysothemis (Covent Garden, La Scala, Berlin), and Arabella (Frankfurt, Vienna). Other successes include Elsa/ Lohengrin (La Scala, Dresden, Amsterdam, Paris) and Elisabeth/ Tannhäuser (Berlin, Dresden). Acclaimed for the Verdi  Requiem in New York with the London Symphony Orchestra, she has collaborated in concert with such major conductors as Barenboim, Levine, Maazel, and Ozawa. She can be seen on DVD in  Der  Rosenkavalier and heard on CD in  Elektra, Strauss songs with pianist Roger Vignoles, and orchestral works of Mendelssohn, Mahler, Strauss, and Messiaen.

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MARIUSZ KWIECIEN

Mariusz Kwiecien(Count Almaviva)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Title role/Eugene Onegin (2007-08); Silvio/Pagliacci (2002-03).
Also this season: Don  Giovanni, Bavarian State Opera (Munich);  I puritani, Vianna Staatsoper;  Carmen, Metropolitan Opera.

“In the Count’s character,” says the Polish baritone, “there is a similarity to Don Giovanni, although on a much smaller scale. He’s trying to have fun, and he’s a seducer. The story has so many different plots, and one can play it many different ways. We have this kind of situation everywhere, all the time – people always gossip and make intrigues. That’s why it’s so fresh and interesting to do. In Mozart’s time and ours there’s the same kind of behavior, with people who think they’re more aristocratic than others, or who can do certain things because they’re ‘better’ or richer.” Kwiecien has won international acclaim as Mozart’s Count, from the Metropolitan Opera and Santa Fe, Seattle, and Dallas opera companies to Glyndebourne, Florence, and most recently, Madrid. Another signature role, Don Giovanni, has brought Kwiecien great praise at Tanglewood, Vienna, London, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, and Santa Fe. His Met successes also include new productions of  DonPasquale and  Lucia di Lammermoor. Kwiecien achieved a major career goal last season singing the title role of one of Poland’s greatest operas, Szymanowski’s  King Roger (new production, Opéra National de Paris). The baritone, who has starred in the title role/ Eugene Onegin at Moscow’s Bolshoi, recently returned to Vienna ( L’elisir d’amore), Hamburg ( Labohème), and Japan (role debut as Escamillo/ Carmen under Seiji Ozawa), and debuted at Covent Garden as Germont/ La traviata. Kwiecien is a noted recitalist, and he can be heard on CD in Brahms’s  German Requiem (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra).

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JOYCE DIDONATO

Joyce DiDonato(Cherubino)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Rosina/The Barber of Seville (2007-08).
Also this season: “Three Centuries of Italian Love Songs” (Spain/Britain/Belgium recital tour); La donna del lago, Opéra National de Paris;  The Barber of Seville, La Scala.

“This opera has taught me something about the frailty of relationships,” says the American mezzo-soprano, “and about suspicion: when you’re quick to doubt, you can throw things into a spin. Mozart perfectly captures the frailty and humanity of his characters, which is why it is a timeless work. No matter how many times I’ve done  Nozze, I can never go back to my dressing room after Cherubino jumps out the window. I always stay in the wings to listen to the Act Two finale, and I always hear something different. It never fails to lift me up.” DiDonato’s recent role debuts include Mozart’s Donna Elvira (Covent Garden), Berlioz’s Béatrice (Houston), and Bellini’s Romeo (Paris). Besides Lyric, more than ten other major houses have heard her celebrated Rosina, among them the Metropolitan Opera, the Opéra National de Paris (DVD), Covent Garden, and Pesaro’s Rossini Opera Festival. The Kansas native has also won lavish praise as the Cinderellas of both Rossini (La Scala, Barcelona, Houston, CD) and Massenet (Santa Fe). Onstage her versatility extends from Dejanira/Handel’s  Hercules (Paris, London, New York, DVD) to Sister Helen/ Dead Man Walking (New York City Opera) and two roles she created at Houston Grand Opera: Meg/ Little Women and Katerina/ Resurrection. She has been heard at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, and with the major orchestras of New York, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Paris. Recent additions to her discography include solo discs of Handel and Rossini. DiDonato’s many honors include the Met’s 2007 Beverly Sills Award.

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LAUREN CURNOW

Lauren Curnow Headshot (Marcellina)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Eight roles since 2003-04, most recently Berta/ The Barber of Seville (2007-08); Ida/ Die Fledermaus (2006-07); Clorinda/ La Cenerentola (2005-06).
Also this season: The Cunning Little Vixen, Teatro Comunale (Florence); “Music at the Mansion” Vocal Arts Series (Milwaukee); recital for PianoForte Foundation (Chicago).

“The sextet in  Figaro is such fun,” says the Pennsylvania-born mezzo-soprano, a Ryan Opera Center alumna. “It’s also the opera’s turning point. Marcellina has been trying to preserve herself and to remain appealing to men, but when she realizes that she’s somebody’s mother, all of that disappears. You see her heart, which seems to supersede everything, which is really sweet.” Curnow’s portrayal of the Fox/ The Cunning Little Vixen, a great success at Lyric, brought her to Japan’s Saito Kinen Festival last season, with Seiji Ozawa conducting (“He’s a wonderful man whose greatest interest is in collaborating with his artists to create the very best musical atmosphere”). Having debuted in Europe at the Wexford Festival (Second Nymph/ Rusalka and Elle/ La voixhumaine), Curnow recently appeared in Venice with Sir Andrew Davis and the Teatro La Fenice Orchestra, singing Berio’s challenging  Folksongs (“You can be very detailed in each of the ten pieces, which are in English, French, and Armenian, but also in several Italian dialects”). She has performed at Wolf Trap Opera (as Marcellina) and with the Philadelphia, Chautauqua, St. Louis, and Santa Fe opera companies. Among her concert engagements have been the National Symphony Orchestra and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. Her awards include the Rose M. Grundman Award of the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation. Curnow is a graduate of Juilliard, Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, and Muhlenberg College.

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KEITH JAMESON

Keith Jameson(Don Basilio)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Beppe/Pagliacci (2008- 09); Triquet/ Eugene Onegin (2007-08).
Also this season: Carmen, Metropolitan Opera; Madama Butterfly, Santa Fe Opera; Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, Los Angeles Opera.

The American tenor is making his role debut: “Basilio is someone who thrives on gossip. I have to display sliminess playing this character by coloring the words and my responses to Susanna and the Count. Basilio isn’t upper class, but he’s been  hired by the upper class and probably considers himself much more than a servant.” Jameson’s Remendado/ Carmen was seen in the Met’s HD transmission: “I’ve heard from friends in Colorado, California, even Buenos Aires. I got to be a different type from what is usually seen in the role – really evil, with a penchant for torture!” Jameson has earned critical praise in  Falstaff, Ariadne auf Naxos Billy Budd, and most recently as Gastone/ La traviata and John Withers/ The Letter (world premiere). He debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in  Warand Peace, having previously sung 14 roles at New York City Opera, ranging stylistically from Oronte/ Alcina to the title role/ Candide and Goro/ Madama Butterfly (heard with NYCO on tour in Japan and at Los Angeles Opera). Jameson has also appeared as Vašek/ The Bartered Bride at Opera Boston; Pong/ Turandot in Santa Fe, Fort Worth, and Atlanta; Valletto/ L’incoronazione di Poppea in Los Angeles; Nanki-Poo/ The Mikado at London’s English National Opera; and Peter Quint/ The Turn of the Screw in Liège, Belgium. Jameson is founder and director of the Greenwood Music Festival in his hometown (Greenwood, South Carolina), which will commence its fourth season in May 2010.

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ANDREA SILVESTRELLI

Andrea Silvestrelli(Bartolo)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Eight roles since 2000-01, most recently Osmin/ The Abduction from the Seraglio (2008-09); Colline/ La bohème (2007-08); Ferrando/ Il trovatore (2006-07).
Also this season: Gianni Schicchi, San Francisco Opera;  Das Rheingold, Deutsche Oper Berlin; Arnaldo de Felice’s “Fragments from Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Selfish Giant,’” Orchestra Haydn di Trenta e Bolzano (world premiere). 

“Bartolo’s aria is difficult,” says the Italian bass, who sang this role at Lyric in 2003-04. “In the second half of the aria you have  sillabati [patter] passages, which are very, very fast. My voice is big, so I often say to the conductor, ‘If it’s too much, tell me.’ In the aria I have to make clear that my character really  hates Figaro – of course, later I discover he’s my son!” Mozart roles are a mainstay of Silvestrelli’s career, including the Commendatore (Lyric, Amsterdam, London, Bologna, CD), Sarastro (Philadelphia, Tel Aviv, Santa Fe), and Osmin (Lyric, San Francisco, Houston), “and when I did Osmin in Munich, I think I was the first Italian to do the role in a German house.” Silvestrelli’s German-language portrayals also include the Landgrave/ Tannhäuser (Tokyo), Hagen/ Götterdämmerung (Mexico City, Austria’s Tiroler Festspiele), Pogner/ Die Meistersinger (Trieste), Fasolt/ DasRheingold (Seattle, San Francisco), Hunding/ Die Walküre (Mexico City), and La Roche/ Capriccio (Parma). “In Berlin, they’ve asked me for the  Ring, also for Gurnemanz in  Parsifal. I’m so proud of that!” Silvestrelli has triumphed in Verdi, including Philip/ Don Carlos (Cardiff in original French version, Graz in Italian), Zaccaria/ Nabucco (La Scala, Macerata), Lodovico/ Otello (Munich), and Banco/ Macbeth (Amsterdam). Among his  bel canto performances are  Norma (Helsinki) and  La favorita (Philadelphia). He recently brought his acclaimed Sparafucile to Washington National Opera, sang his first  Bluebeard’s Castle (Welsh National Opera), and was directed by Woody Allen as Simone/ Gianni Schicchi (Los Angeles).

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ANGELA MANNINO

Angela Mannino(Barbarina)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Four roles since 2008-09, most recently Giannetta/ The Elixir of Love, Shepherd/ Tosca (both 2009-10); Blonde/ The Abduction from theSeraglio (2008-09).
Also this season: Lulu, Metropolitan Opera; Il turco in Italia, Wolf Trap Opera.

The New Orleans native, a soprano currently in her second year with the Ryan Opera Center, was “thrilled to find out I was going to be doing Barbarina, which is such a lovely role. I have a conflict going on in my head about how old this character is. There’s a part of me that wants her to be  really young – say, 13 – but in our Ryan Opera Center studio production last summer, she was played as slightly older. It wouldn’t make sense if she were that much younger than Cherubino, but I’ll do it in whatever way our director wants. The goal is simply to be truthful.” Mannino earned her graduate degree at Indiana University, where she portrayed Despina/ Così fan tutte, Blonde/ The Abductionfrom the Seraglio, Musetta/ La bohème, and Miss Titmouse/Edwin Penhorwood’s  Too ManySopranos. The soprano is a former apprentice artist with Central City Opera (2005, performed in Britten’s  Paul Bunyan) and Santa Fe Opera (2006, 2007, performed in Strauss’s  Daphne). In 2006 she debuted as Barbarina at New Orleans Opera, returning as Suor Genovieffa/ Suor Angelica and Lauretta/ Gianni Schicchi. Her appearances in concert have included Fauré’s  Requiem (Missoula Symphony). Mannino has been a first-place winner of the Mobile Opera Rose Palmai-Tenser Vocal Competition and an award-winner in the Gulf Coast Regional Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  Angela Mannino is sponsoredby  Mrs. C. G. Pinnell.

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PHILIP KRAUS

Philip Kraus(Antonio)
Previously at Lyric Opera: 22 roles since 1990-91, most recently Bartolo/ The Barber of Seville, Douphol/ La traviata (both 2007-08); Notary/ Der Rosenkavalier (2005-06).
Also this season: Rodelinda, Handel Week Festival (Oak Park); Brahms  German Requiem, South Bend Symphony.

The American baritone considers Mozart’s recitatives all-important: “Unfortunately, when singers are young, their teachers concentrate on arias and songs. For better or worse, recitative doesn’t require the kind of sung tone that arias do, because it’s more speech-like. It’s up to coaches and the student’s own knowledge to  deal with this. There ought to be recitative classes in college, in preparation for musical careers. The mistake most young singers make is that they  sing it too much, they’re too rigid with it. They don’t realize that there’s a certain amount of freedom involved.” Kraus’s versatility encompasses Rossini’s Bartolo and Gianni Schicchi (both with Chicago Opera Theater), Taddeo/ L’italiana inAlgeri (Hawaii Opera Theatre), Sir Joseph/ H.M.S. Pinafore, Mountararat/ Iolanthe, the Vicar/ Albert Herring (all with Cleveland Opera), and Salieri/Rimsky-Korsakov’s  Mozart andSalieri (four times, most recently with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic). Kraus’s Verdi credits include Douphol/ La traviata (Los Angeles Opera, now on DVD), the title role/ Rigoletto (Minnesota Opera) and the  Requiem with the Jacksonville, Duluth, and University of Michigan symphony orchestras. Highlights last season included Sharpless/ Madama Butterfly with the Arkansas Symphony,  Messiah with the Handel Week Festival in Oak Park (where he has also sung  Acis and Galatea), and the title role/ Elijah with both the North Shore Chorale and the Chicago Master Singers Chorale. For the last two years Kraus has been a faculty member with the “Music in the Marche” program in Piobbico, Italy.

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DAVID PORTILLO

David Portillo(Don Curzio)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Six roles since 2007-08, most recently Raoul St. Brioche/ The MerryWidow, Riccardo/ Ernani (both 2009-10); Sailor/ Tristan und Isolde (2008-09).
Also this season: Madama Butterfly, Opera Company of Philadelphia;  Il turco in Italia, Wolf Trap Opera;  Don Giovanni, Fort Worth Opera.

The American tenor, a third-year Ryan Opera Center member, considers  The Marriage ofFigaro “one my top three favorite operas, and the third-act sextet is my absolute favorite ensemble in the piece. This small role gives me a chance to perform with some amazing singers.” Portillo spent last summer at Wolf Trap Opera singing Ferrando/ Così fan tutte and Eurimaco/Monteverdi’s  Il ritorno d’Ulissein patria. A double bill brought his debut last season at Opera Company of Philadelphia, where he portrayed the Little Old Man and the Tree-Frog/Ravel’s  L’enfant et les sortilèges and Gherardo/Puccini’s  Gianni Schicchi. During the summer of 2008 Portillo was heard as Count Almaviva/ The Barber of Seville at the Southern Illinois Music Festival. Among his orchestral engagements have been Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Phoenix Symphony) and Haydn’s  Creation (Colorado Music Festival). Besides the Ryan Opera Center, the tenor has participated in several other prestigious young artist programs: those of San Francisco Opera (Merola Program), Florida Grand Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and Opera North. In 2008 he was awarded first place in the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation competition.  David Portillo issponsored by  Stepan Company.

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AMANDA MAJESKI

Majeski Headshot(Peasant Girl)
Lyric Opera debut
Also this season:
 
Faust, Washington Concert Opera;  The Marriage ofFigaro, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

“I expect Mozart to be my ‘bread and butter’ for the next several years,” says the Illinois native, a first-year soprano member of the Ryan Opera Center. “Singing Mozart’s music is so fulfilling, but also terrifying! When you perform it, you really feel you’ve accomplished something.” Majeski grew up as a professional tap dancer: “Often, if I’m struggling when singing a particular passage, I’ll think of how I would dance it. Whatever confidence I have onstage comes from dancing, and I continue to use the relaxation techniques that I used then.” Majeski has scored recent successes as Lisa/ La sonnambula (professional operatic debut, Michigan Opera Theatre), Vitellia/ La clemenza di Tito (Chicago Opera Theater), and Musetta/ La bohème (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis). The Curtis Institute of Music graduate has participated in the young artist programs of San Francisco Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and the Ravinia Festival. Concert appearances have brought her to Chicago’s Apollo Chorus, the Richmond Symphony, and the Peninsula Music Festival. She made her Weill Hall (New York) recital debut in 2008 and is active on the Marilyn Horne Foundation roster. She received the prestigious Sara Tucker Study Grant in 2007. Amanda Majeski is sponsored by  Mrs. J. W. Van Gorkom.

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KATHERINE LERNER

Lerner Headshot(Peasant Girl)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Four roles since 2008-09, most recently Siébel/ Faust (2009-10); Lola/ Cavalleria rusticana, Mother/ Lulu (both 2008-09).
Also this season: Alcina, Bourbon Baroque (Louisville).

The American mezzo-soprano, a second-year Ryan Opera Center member, spent last season at Lyric “taking advantage of this fabulous opportunity to be inspired by world-class artists.  Lulu was a real challenge – I practically had a nervous breakdown learning my small role. But I loved the elegant sets and costumes of Lyric’s production, and Marlis Petersen, who was our Lulu, was so warm to everyone in the cast. She also had incredible magnetism in the role. Although I figure I’ll eventually be doing a million Cherubinos, I do enjoy less-performed operas, and you don’t get to do a work like  Lulu very often.” Lerner is an alumna of Philadelphia’s renowned Curtis Institute of Music, where she was heard in major roles in Ainadamar Le nozze di Figaro L’Ormindo, and  Postcard from Morocco. While studying at Oberlin Conservatory, Lerner appeared in  Didoand Aeneas The Merry Wives of Windsor AlbertHerring, and  Dialogues of the Carmelites. She has participated in young-artist programs of the Chautauqua Institution (performed in  TheRake’s Progress), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (performed in  Street Scene), and Music Academy of the West. She has also performed as a soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra.Katherine Lerner is sponsored by  Katherine A.Abelson and  Bill and Orli Staley.

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SIR ANDREW DAVIS

Tosca Davis Headshot(Conductor)
Previously at Lyric Opera: 34 productions since 1987, most recently  TheDamnation of Faust Faust, Tosca (all 2009-10).
Also this season: Concerts with the major orchestras of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, London, Rotterdam.

The internationally celebrated English conductor has been Lyric Opera’s music director since 2000. Sir Andrew has enjoyed successes in more than ten works at the Metropolitan Opera, most recently  Don Giovanni and  Die Walküre on the company’s 2006 tour to Japan (where he also led a concert with Renée Fleming as soloist and the Met Orchestra). He has conducted at many other prestigious theaters worldwide, including La Scala (debut leading  The Cunning Little Vixen, return last year for  A Midsummer Night’sDream), the Bayreuth Festival (new production of  Lohengrin), the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Royal Opera House/Covent Garden, and the major houses of Munich, Paris, and San Francisco. Sir Andrew is former music director of both Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In 2000 he concluded an enormously successful 11-year tenure as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He is now conductor laureate of the BBCSO, with which he has led many international tours and has recorded extensively (recent releases include “The Elgar Experience” and “The Vaughan Williams Experience”). He has also recently appeared with the major orchestras of Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Detroit. Other significant engagements have been with the leading orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Rome. His vast discography, which appears on more than ten major labels, includes a much-acclaimed new recording of a rarely heard work by Elgar,  The Crown of India, with the BBC Philharmonic. Universally acclaimed Glyndebourne productions of works by Rossini, Mozart, and Janáˇcek conducted by Sir Andrew are currently available on DVD.

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LEONARDO VORDONI

Vordoni Headshot(Conductor – March 15, 22, 24, 27)
Lyric Opera debut
Also this season: Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming, Minnesota Opera;  TheBarber of Seville, Opera Colorado; Rossini’s  Mosèin Egitto, Chicago Opera Theater.

“When you perform Mozart’s operas,” says the Italian conductor, “you think constantly about the characters. The juxtaposition of comic moments with intense or sentimental ones is vital, too. But the most important thing is to function within a  team, so the music comes together with the staging as it should.” In 2008 Vordoni made prestigious debuts at Ireland’s Wexford Opera Festival (Pedrotti’s  Tutti in maschera) and Pesaro’s Rossini Opera Festival (music associated with the legendary Maria Malibran, with Joyce DiDonato as soloist). His successes in America include  The Pearl Fishers (Minnesota Opera),  Madama Butterfly (Madison Opera), and  La Cenerentola (Orlando Opera). A member of the Metropolitan Opera’s musical staff last season, Vordoni has also been closely associated with the distinguished Italian conductor Edoardo Müller, working with him in Seattle, Houston, and San Diego (“I consider him my mentor, and what he showed me above all was the humility you must have in this job”). Vordoni has coached for Pesaro’s Accademia Rossiniana and has given master classes for the young-artist programs of Lyric Opera and the San Francisco, Seattle, Utah, and Santa Fe opera companies, as well as for the University of Kansas, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, and – in conjunction with the “La Fenice in Castelfranco Veneto” program – the University of North Texas. The conductor has eagerly anticipated Lyric’s  Figaro: “The company is not simply one of the finest anywhere, but also a happy island in the world of opera. Being involved in this production is an opportunity to work within a  family.”

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SIR PETER HALL

Hall Headshot(Original Production)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Five operas, most recently The Midsummer Marriage (2005-06);  The Marriageof Figaro (2003-04); Otello (2001-02).
Also this season: Otello (San Francisco);  La Cenerentola (Deutsche Oper Berlin); Alan Ayckbourn’s  Bedroom Farce, The Rose Theatre (Kingston, England).

Sir Peter Hall first staged  Figaro in 1973 at Glyndebourne, where he was artistic director from 1984-90. His most recent new production for Glyndebourne was  La Cenerentola. Sir Peter has also created productions for Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera and Bayreuth ( Ring cycle), Los Angeles Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. He was founder/director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (1960-68) and director of the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain (1973-88). A distinguished director of the classics, in particular Shakespeare, Sir Peter is also renowned as a champion of new writing, having staged premieres of work by Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, and David Hare, among many important writers. Sir Peter’s work has also been seen on Broadway, winning Tony Awards for his productions of  The Homecoming and  Amadeus. His most recent New York productions have been  As You Like It (2005) and  The Importance of Being Earnest (2006). The Peter Hall Company, which he launched in 1988, has become one of the U.K.’s most highly regarded independent theater groups, having staged some 60 productions since its formation. Sir Peter’s most recent theater productions include  Hay Fever (with Dame Judi Dench),  Uncle Vanya, ADoll’s House, Pygmalion, Portrait of a Lady, and  Love’s Labour’s Lost. Director Emeritus of the recently opened Rose Theatre, and Chancellor of Kingston University, London, Sir Peter is also a director for film and television and the author of a number of books on theater.

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HERBERT KELLNER

Herbert Kellner(Stage Director)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Seven operas since 1987-88, most recently  ThePearl Fishers (2008-09); The Barber of Seville (2007-08)  Ring cycle (2004-05); production stage manager (1985-94).

“This is a totally naturalistic production,” says the American director, “with very natural acting. That allows us to create really three-dimensional characters. I’ve always been fascinated to work with Sir Peter Hall – I’ve done  Figaro, Salome, and  Otello with him at Lyric. He makes both the pain and the joy in  Figaro more transparent. It’s much clearer who these characters are – they’re individuals, not stereotypes. Marcellina, for example: here’s a woman who desperately wants to be married, who is not bad, not evil. You start to see that other side of her and she becomes a much more real person whom all of us can understand. Rather than just playing the flaws, we present the whole person.” Kellner has recreated John Copley’s Barber of Seville production in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland. He was also associate stage director for Copley’s  Peter Grimes in San Francisco. In addition to remounting August Everding’s  Ring cycle at Lyric, Kellner’s credits in Wagner include collaborations with directors Ernst Poettgen (Lyric, 1979), Roberto Oswald (Lyric, 1982), and Francesca Zambello (Seattle, 1998), all for  Tristan undIsolde. Kellner collaborated with Zambello on Tobias Picker’s  Thérèse Raquin (world premiere, Dallas) and was associate director for that production (Montreal), later remounting it in San Diego. He has also remounted Sir Peter Hall’s  Salome production in Los Angeles. Kellner staged  Götterdämmerung in a multimedia production at New York State’s Artpark, where he also directed operas of Puccini, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, and Stravinsky.

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JOHN BURY

Bury Headshot(Set and Costume Designer)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Four productions since 1987-88, most recently The Marriage of Figaro (2003-04, 1997-98); Così fan tutte (1993-94); The Bartered Bride (1992-93).

Born in Aberystwyth, Wales, the distinguished designer began his career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962, serving as its first head of design (1964-68). His work at the RSC included numerous collaborations with his Figaro colleague, Sir Peter Hall, including Hamlet Macbeth, Gogol’s  The GovernmentInspector, and Pinter’s  The Homecoming. His work with Sir Peter included  Moses und Aron, Die Zauberflöte, and  Tristan und Isolde at Covent Garden, and at Glyndebourne Festival Opera (where he created ten productions) the three Mozart/da Ponte operas,  A MidsummerNight’s Dream Orfeo ed Euridice, and  Carmen. Formore than a decade Bury was head of design at the Royal National Theatre; his many productions there included Peter Shaffer’s  Amadeus, which later triumphed on Broadway. Bury’s  Carmen and  Macbeth were both been seen at the Metropolitan Opera. Many of Bury’s productions can be seen on DVD. His filmwork included  The Homecoming and  A MidsummerNight’s Dream. Bury served as consultant to the Ministry of Construction in Tokyo in the building of Japan’s first opera house. He fulfilled the same function for the rebuilding of the new Glyndebourne theater. John Bury died on November 12, 2000.

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DUANE SCHULER

Schuler Headshot(Lighting Designer)
Previously at Lyric Opera: More than 130 productions since 1977, most recently Katya Kabanova Ernani (both 2009-10); Cavalleria rusticana/ Pagliacci (2008-09)
Also this season: Daron Hagen’s  Amelia (world premiere), Seattle Opera;  Boris Godunov, Metropolitan Opera; Elektra, Salzburg Festival.

For the beauty of Mozart’s music, the American designer regards  The Marriage of Figaro as “one of my all-time favorite operas. The lighting requirements for the first three acts support the music’s warmth and energy. In Act Four, with its layers of mistaken identity, one can create a world to support the music and help to tell the story clearly. As the singers move in and out of the textured beams of moonlight and lanterns, the audience should feel the essence of a summer night.” Schuler’s work has been seen frequently in Europe, including recently the Opéra National de Lyon ( Lulu The Queen of Spades), the Festspielhaus at Baden-Baden ( Tannhäuser), and the Salzburg Festival ( Benvenuto Cellini, recently released on DVD). He has designed for London’s Covent Garden, Milan’s La Scala, Dresden’s Semperoper, and the major opera companies of Vienna, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. Among Schuler’s 23 Metropolitan Opera productions are the recent  Thaïs (DVD) and  Larondine, as well as the world premieres of John Harbison’s  The Great Gatsby (1999) and Tan Dun’s  The First Emperor (2006). Additional American opera credits include many productions in San Francisco (most recently  BorisGodunov and  La rondine), Santa Fe, Houston, and Los Angeles. Schuler has designed for American Ballet Theatre and the Stuttgart, Berlin, and Houston ballet companies. His theater credits include productions for the Manhattan Theatre Club and the Ahmanson Theatre (Los Angeles). Schuler is a founding partner of Schuler Shook, a theater planning and architectural lighting design firm (Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas).

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DONALD NALLY

Nally(Chorus Master)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Chorus master since 2007-08.
Also this season: First season as music director of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble; commissioned premieres of David Lang, Lansing McLoskey, and Paul Fowler with The Crossing, Philadelphia.

“Sadly, Mozart generally employed the chorus as punctuation,” says Lyric’s chorus master. “These are very occasional additions, giving textural variation and perhaps a bit of spectacle to his amazingly funny and moving stories. I know of no opera funnier  and more moving than  Figaro. ” Nally is in his first season as music director of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble. He received the 2009 ASCAP/Chorus America National Award for Adventuresome Program with The Crossing, his Philadelphia-based professional chamber choir. Their recording of Kile Smith’s  Vespers was released last April. Former chorus master of Welsh National Opera, Nally conducted that company on tour in major cities throughout Britain and Northern Ireland. While in the U.K., Nally often guest-conducted London’s Philharmonia Chorus and collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru of Wales, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He was previously based in Philadelphia as chorus master at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, director of music at Saint Mark’s Church, and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia. He also collaborated regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pennsylvania Ballet. Nally was for many years chorusmaster at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. He has collaborated with many of the world’s great conductors and directors, including Gian Carlo Menotti, Carlo Rizzi, Richard Hickox, Vladimir Jurowski, Sir Charles Mackerras, Gunter Kramer, Richard Jones, and Giulio Chazalettes.

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KENNETH VON HEIDECKE

Heidecke Headshot(Choreographer)
Previously at Lyric Opera: 22 productions since 1976, most recently Carmen (2005-06);  DonGiovanni (2004-05); Lucia di Lammermoor (2003-04).
Also this season: Tchaikovsky Suite, Alaska Dance Theatre;  Dracula, Bran Castle (Romania); new choreography for  Romeoand Juliet Balcony Scene, Panama International Dance Festival.

The Illinois native’s choreography for Lyric Opera’s  Marriage of Figaro production, premiered during the 1987-88 season, has been seen in three subsequent revivals, most recently 2003-04: “I enjoyed doing this production with Sir Peter Hall when he first staged it here, and the success of the choreography opened the door to my working for other opera companies. Sir Peter insisted that Lyric’s chorus had never looked better! None of them are professional dancers, yet they have to do a very stylized fandango, which they perform very well. The fandango is actually a specific dance within the flamenco style, from the period in Spain that coincides with the French Revolution.” In recent seasons von Heidecke’s opera choreography has included  Ariodante and  Samson et Dalila at San Francisco Opera, and the latter work, as well as  Aida, at San Diego Opera. He has choreographed for the Washington, Dallas, and Los Angeles opera companies. Von Heidecke triumphed with a full evening of his works staged at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe, Germany. As a solo dancer, he premiered Lyric’s Balanchine choreography for  Orfeo ed Euridice (1975) and performed a wide array of Balanchine works under Maria Tallchief’s tutelage. From 1975 to 1983 von Heidecke danced principal roles with the Lyric Opera Ballet, Chicago City Ballet, the National Ballet of Italy, and Carla Fracci’s Verona Arena company. A documentary on von Heidecke’s life and career is currently being prepared by filmmaker Stuart Meyer.

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AUGUST TYE

Tye HS(Ballet Mistress)
Previously at Lyric Opera: 16 productions since 1994-95, most recently The Damnation of Faust, The Merry Widow (both 2009-10);  ThePearl Fishers (2008-09).

The Chicago-based dancer-choreographer recently presented a 20-year retrospective of her work,  Level 41, at Chicago’s Vittum Theater and Ruth Page Dance Center, as well as in Tye’s hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Two seasons ago she remounted the choreography of Lyric Opera’s  Iphigénie enTauride at San Francisco Opera and Covent Garden, and she will do the same for Lyric’s Salome (starring Deborah Voigt) at the 2010 Saito Kinen Festival (Japan). Tye is a past recipient of Regional Dance America’s Best Young Choreographer Award and the Monticello Choreographer’s Award. In addition to Lyric Opera, she has performed in Chicago with Joel Hall Dancers, Salt Creek Ballet, and Second City Ballet. Tye is artistic director and principal instructor of ballet at the Hyde Park School of Ballet, which she founded in 1993. Her company, Tyego Dance Project (founded in 1997), has performed at Steppenwolf and the Athenaeum, and toured the country in a revival of Spike Jones’s  Nutcracker.

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RICHARD JARVIE

Jarvie(Wigmaster and Makeup Designer)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Wigmaster and makeup designer since 2000-01; supervisor of the wig department and principal makeup artist, 1982-2000.
Also this season: The Magic Flute, Atlanta Opera;  The Ghostsof Versailles at Northwestern University.

Lyric’s wigmaster and makeup designer finds that “people often think of  The Magic Flute as the most perfect Mozart, but to me  Figaro is flawless. It’s my absolute favorite.” Lyric’s production is “pared down in terms of wigs. The chorusmembers use their own hair – the designer chose to make it as uncomplicated as possible, giving the villagers hats or little mobcaps. Among the principals, Figaro and Susanna can often use their own hair. Cherubino almost always has a wig with a tail. The Count has a regal, almost menacing quality, very proper in Act Two. Of course, Basilio and Bartolo have traditional 18th-century wigs, and with them we get to have a little more fun, but there are no fake noses or blocked-out teeth. The humor emerges from the action, instead of someone coming onstage and people thinking immediately, ‘He’s the funny character.’” Lyric’s wigmaster and makeup designer served in both of those positions for Chicago Shakespeare Theater from 1989 to 2000. He has previously served as wigmaster for Minneapolis’s Tyrone Guthrie Theatre and wig/makeup supervisor for the Tom Patterson Theatre of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada. Jarvie currently teaches at both Northwestern University and DePaul University.

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