Lyric Opera of Chicago COVID-19 updates

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October 21, 2020

Today, we share some difficult news with our Lyric family. We have come to the heartbreaking but unavoidable decision to cancel the remainder of our 2020/21 Season. In accordance with current state and local health regulations and guidelines, and putting the safety of our audiences, artists, and company members first, we recognize that we will not be able to safely bring people together for live performances in the Lyric Opera House during the current season. 

Canceling our season, which was years in the making, is really devastating for us all. A profound loss. Our dedicated family of artists and all of our company members want nothing more than to be together making beautiful music and theater for you — the audiences who have proven so faithful even during this impossibly difficult year.

We are choosing, though, to focus on the future — and so we invite you to explore some of the highlights that are planned for the 2021/22 Season, because now more than ever, we need to remember that opera will be back, and joys and excitement of great live performances will once again be part of our world.

In the meantime, Lyric is still pulsing with activity - producing virtual concerts and behind-the-scenes content to share with you, working with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Urban League on programs that are engaging students across Chicago virtually, and forging ahead with installing new seats in our theater thanks to generous, dedicated funding from an anonymous foundation, and under the stringent health and safety protocols. We are also working hard to fundraise so that we may secure our current and future plans. Without ticket sales, the generosity of Chicago's arts lovers has never been more important. 

Rest assured that the value of your tickets will be safely held on account, and we'll be reaching out to you directly by October 31, 2020 with a full range of options, including holding the value of your tickets on account to apply to future subscriptions and tickets, donating all or part of the value of your tickets, or requesting a refund.

Canceled productions include:

Samson and Delilah
The Elixir of Love
The Marriage of Figaro
The Rake's Progress
Singin' in the Rain
Christine Goerke in Recital
Sir Andrew Davis conducting Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 
Family Day at the Opera
Opera Insider Series
Opera Bus transportation

We thank audiences most sincerely for their support, patience, and commitment to Lyric during this challenging time. 

Fall 2020/Spring 2021 cancellations

Frequently asked questions

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Based on guidance from the city, state, and federal agencies regarding the ongoing health crisis, Lyric Opera of Chicago's general director, president, and CEO, Anthony Freud, has made the difficult decision to cancel performances in the Lyric Opera House from September to December in Lyric's 2020/21 Season.

"On behalf of our staff, boards, artists, donors, subscribers, and ticketholders, we have come to today's decision based on the best information currently available. In this uncertain environment, we must put the safety of our guests, artists, and company first, respecting the policies implemented by the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. Canceling our performances in the opera house through the fall is heartbreaking and we look forward to and expect to be able to welcome audiences back to Lyric in January 2021 with the Chicago premiere of BLUE, with music by Jeanine Tesori and libretto by Tazewell Thompson, a new work exploring the relationship between an African American teenager and his police officer father."

As the State of Illinois moves through its five-phase plan of reopening, performing arts companies on Lyric's scale are still slated to be part of the final phase. Operating on anything close to a normal basis until that phase is reached is simply not possible.

Freud continued, "The decision to cancel our fall productions is only one piece of the elaborate array of work still underway, which includes ongoing discussions with our union groups. Our goal is, and always has been, to find a balance between protecting the individuals and protecting our company."

Lyric's staff continues to work on the productions and special events scheduled from January through June of 2021, which we currently expect to proceed as planned. The previously announced renovation project for the Ardis Krainik Theatre, including new seats and improved sightlines, is also proceeding under stringent safety and health protocols.

The company is preparing a wide range of exciting alternative artistic activities to be presented through the fall, with a focus on ensuring that the art form of opera remains in the hearts and minds of Lyric audiences and stakeholders through this period of closure.

Assuming the 2020/21 Season resumes in January, Lyric plans to retain the titles previously announced. Lyric is currently exploring the possibility of rescheduling in later seasons the titles that fall into the cancelation period. Those include:

Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci: September 17-October 10
Lessons in Love and Violence: September 27-October 9
Tosca: November 7-29
Attila: November 15-27

All patrons currently holding tickets for canceled performances will automatically have the value of those tickets transferred to their accounts. That credit can be applied to future performances, refunded, or donated. All ticket holders affected will receive communication directly from Lyric with a full description of their options by June 30.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s General Director, President & CEO, Anthony Freud, announced today that all public performances, events, and activities remaining in the 2019/20 Season have been moved into upcoming seasons. This includes the musical 42nd Street, the new chamber opera Blue, Family Day at the Lyric Opera House, and all backstage tours, in order to heed social distancing recommendations and continue to support the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois in controlling the spread of COVID-19. This announcement signals the end of public performances and activity through June 30, 2020 – the end of Lyric’s current fiscal year.

Working to postpone rather than cancel planned artistic and engagement events, Lyric is pleased to announce that all of Lyric’s May and June performances and events have been successfully moved into upcoming seasons.

Lyric will present the new-to-Chicago production of 42nd Street (originally scheduled to run from May 29 - June 21, 2020) in the spring of the company’s 2021/22 season. The large-scale production from Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris will still make its U.S. debut at Lyric, and Stephen Mear, who was set to direct the production this spring, will return to direct.

The Midwest premiere of Blue, by composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson, was scheduled to run June 16-28, 2020, at the Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. It will now be presented in January 2021 at Chicago Shakespeare, conducted by Lyric’s music director designate, Enrique Mazzola. The Chicago premiere of Proving Up will be postponed to a later season. Blue is a co-production of The Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Ticket holders for Lyric’s annual Family Day event, planned for May 16, 2020, will be moved into Family Day on May 22, 2021. Lyric is also working to share child-friendly online content that explores the joy of opera with family audiences regularly.

Those holding tickets for canceled backstage tours this May and June will be offered backstage tour opportunities this fall as the 2020/21 season begins. More information on these dates will be announced at a later time.

Friday, March 13, 2020

At a press conference on Thursday, March 12, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a State and City mandate that all large-scale events exceeding 1,000 individuals be canceled for the next 30 days as a preventive measure to stop the spread of COVID-19 disease (coronavirus). Additionally, the State and the City encouraged that community events of 250 people or more should be canceled until May 1st. This encompasses the time period of our long-planned and highly-anticipated Ring cycle. With great regret, we have no option but to cancel all three Ring cycles and the preceding two performances of Gotterdammerung.

We at Lyric, along with you at home, have been carefully monitoring every moment of this global pandemic, working in lockstep with the Chicago Department of Public Health. The health and well-being of our audiences, artists, and staff is our highest priority, and we have been standing at the ready to fully cooperate with our local and state officials in preventing the spread of this dangerous and unprecedented illness.

We are, of course, heartbroken to lose the Ring cycle. For the past six years, more than 300 artists have put their hearts and talents into the development of this event, and the excitement about bringing it to audiences from all 50 states and nearly 30 countries has been mounting since the moment the production was announced. The cycle performances themselves, and a large range of festival programming, promised to be a high point in Chicago's cultural season.

But right now, we all recognize that our top priority must be to contain the spread of COVID-19. For the safety of our loyal patrons and the greater good of our community, we recognize that this is the only choice.

We ask for your patience as we work through this extremely difficult slate of performance cancellations. We need your support at this moment more than ever.

Please bear with us as we work to provide you with the highest level of customer service and look towards a time in the near future when we can all come together to enjoy performances again.



The following performances and events are cancelled as of June 16, 2020:

Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci
September 17, 20, 26, October 1, 3, 7, 10, 2020

Lessons in Love and Violence
September 27, 30, October 3, 6, 9

November 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28 & 29

November 15, 18, 21, 24 & 27

Opera Insider Series
Cav/Pag September 8
Lessons in Love September 15
Tosca October 27
Attila November 3

Backstage Tours
September 26, 30, October 6, 10, November 13, 18 & 21

Lyric Bus
October 1, 6, November 18, 19 & 25

Dress rehearsals that correlate to performances above are also canceled.


The following performances are postponed as of April 2, 2020:

Family Day at Lyric
Original date: 4/16/20. New date: 5/22/21
Ticketholders will receive new tickets to the 2021 event later this summer.

Blue, in collaboration with Chicago Shakespeare Theater at the Yard
Original dates: 6/19-28/20. New dates: 1/15-24/21
Ticketholders will receive new tickets to the 2021 event later this summer.

42nd Street
Original dates: 5/29/20 - 6/21/20. New dates: Spring 2021, dates TBA.
Ticketholders are being contacted with their options.

All public, group, and student Lyric Backstage Tours scheduled through June 30 have been postponed. Ticketholders will be offered dates during Fall 2020.


The following performances are currently canceled. Ticketholders are being contacted about the disposition of their purchase.

Gotterdammerung regular season performances: April 4 & 11

Ring Cycle:

Cycle 1
Das Rheingold, Monday 4/13/20, 7:30pm
Die Walküre, Tuesday, 4/14/20, 6:00pm
Siegfried, Thursday, 4/16/20, 6:00pm
Götterdämmerung, Saturday, 4/18/20, 5:30pm

Cycle 2
Das Rheingold, Monday 4/20/20, 7:30pm
Die Walküre, Tuesday, 4/21/20, 6:00pm
Siegfried, Thursday, 4/23/20, 6:00pm
Götterdämmerung, Saturday, 4/25/20, 5:30pm

Cycle 3
Das Rheingold, Monday 4/27/20, 2:00pm
Die Walküre, Wednesday, 4/29/20, 2:00pm
Siegfried, Friday, 5/1/20, 2:00pm
Götterdämmerung, Sunday, 5/3/20, 2:30pm

Ring Cycle Backstage Tours: April 14 – May 1 at 10 & 11am

The Music of Wagner: April 14, 21 & 28 at 12pm

The Philosophy of the Ring: April 14, 21 & 28 at 2:30pm

Ring Creative Team Discussion: April 15, 2pm

Maestro & Cast Discussion: April 22 & 30

The Flight of the Valkyries: April 13, 20 & 27

Longer! Louder! Wagner! April 15 – May 2

Spring 2020 cancellations

Frequently asked questions

Ring Festival cancellations

Frequently asked questions

Photo: Matthew Gilson