Statement on Sir Andrew Davis

CHICAGO (4/21/24) — Anthony Freud, general director, president & CEO of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Enrique Mazzola, music director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Sylvia Neil, Lyric Opera of Chicago board chair, join together to share news of the death of the company’s music director emeritus, Sir Andrew Davis. The renowned conductor served as Lyric’s music director and principal conductor for two decades, with an illustrious career that spanned the globe and included leading significant orchestras on several continents.

Having made his Lyric debut in 1987, Davis served as the company’s music director and principal conductor from 2000 to 2021. During his immensely distinguished tenure at Lyric, he conducted a vast repertoire that encompassed operas by Berg, Berlioz, Bizet, Britten, Dvořák, Gilbert and Sullivan, Gounod, Humperdinck, Janáček, Lehár, López-Bellido, Massenet, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Poulenc, Puccini, Rossini, Stauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Wagner, and Weinberg. He led nearly 700 performances of 62 operas by 22 different composers.

“All of us at Lyric Opera of Chicago join the entire classical music world in mourning Sir Andrew’s passing. He was a true artistic partner to me and a shining light for so many of us. We will miss his incredible artistry, his extraordinary wisdom, his irrepressible humor, his unfettered zest for life, and his devotion to the arts and the humanities. We have all been incredibly fortunate to have had Sir Andrew as a constant inspiration for so many years,” offered Anthony Freud.

Enrique Mazzola added: “I so admire Sir Andrew’s extraordinary achievements at Lyric and his wonderful legacy. He was a remarkable music director and conductor and I am deeply honored to have succeeded him at Lyric”.

“Through his award-winning recordings, numerous international tours, and his guest appearances and relationships with the world’s most important symphony orchestras and opera houses, Sir Andrew’s brilliance is known so well by so many. All of us at Lyric Opera of Chicago feel blessed to have been part of his home company and miss him deeply,” extends Sylvia Neil.

Sir Andrew’s other major artistic relationships included the BBC Symphony Orchestra (conductor laureate and chief conductor from 1989-2000), Glyndebourne Festival Opera (music director 1988-2000), Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (conductor laureate and chief conductor from 2013-2019), and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (conductor laureate and principal conductor from 1975-1988), where he also served as interim artistic director through 2020. In addition, he held the honorary title of conductor emeritus from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sir Andrew Davis and his late wife, American soprano Gianna Rolandi, met at Glyndebourne and married in 1989, living in England until Davis’s appointment as music director and principal conductor in 2000, when Chicago, and Lyric Opera, became their home. Rolandi retired from performing in 1994 and became the first director of vocal studies for Lyric’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center in 2001, later becoming the program’s director from 2006-2013. After her retirement, she continued to teach privately. She passed away in 2021. The couple are survived by their son, Ed Frazier Davis, an accomplished composer.

The family is planning a private memorial service. All of us treasure our memories of Sir Andrew and hold Ed Frazier Davis in our fondest thoughts.

About Lyric

About Lyric

Lyric Opera of Chicago is committed to redefining what it means to experience great opera. The company is driven to deliver consistently excellent artistry through innovative, relevant, celebratory programming that engages and energizes new and traditional audiences.

Under the leadership of General Director, President & CEO Anthony Freud, Music Director Enrique Mazzola, and Special Project Advisor Renée Fleming, Lyric is dedicated to reflecting, and drawing strength from, the diversity of Chicago. Lyric offers, through innovation, collaboration, and evolving learning opportunities, ever-more exciting, accessible, and thought-provoking audience and community experiences. We also stand committed to training the artists of the future, through The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center; and to becoming increasingly diverse across our audiences, staff, programming, and artists—magnifying the welcoming pull of our art form, our company, and our city.

Through the timeless power of voice, the splendor of a great orchestra and chorus, theater, dance, design, and truly magnificent stagecraft, Lyric is devoted to immersing audiences in worlds both familiar and unexpected, creating shared experiences that resonate long after the curtain comes down.

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