Welcome to the Lyric Lately Blog!
Our blog is here to educate and amuse, with enlightening articles, exclusive artist interviews, behind-the-scenes photos, engaging videos, and more. Take a look below to see what's been happening at Lyric Lately!
The seducer. The philanderer. The libertine who takes what he wants and lives only for his own pleasure. All three are Don Giovanni, antihero in Mozart's drama of lust and revenge. He's surrounded by memorable characters, including his frustrated servant Leporello and the three women he encounters: fiery Donna Elvira, tormented Donna Anna, and impressionable Zerlina. Filled with thrilling music and drama, including a finale so overpoweringly dramatic that it changed music forever, Don Giovanni is justly celebrated as the perfect opera.
We may be getting a little stir-crazy at home, but at least we don't have statues coming to life and singing to us like Don Giovanni. This week, enjoy an extended clip from the closing scene of Lyric's 2019 production of Don Giovanni, starring Lucas Meachem in the title role and Mika Kares as the reanimated Commendatore.
In this scene, Marguerite tries on the jewels delivered by Méphistophélès as a gift from Faust and is captivated by how they enhance her beauty, as she sings in the famous aria, the Jewel Song (Ah! je ris de me voir si belle en ce miroir).
They say a picture's worth a thousand words, and we agree. As Lyric prepared to announce the cancellation of its long-awaited Ring cycle, a few photos were taken of the empty stage, empty streets, and soon-to-be-empty offices of Lyric Opera of Chicago. Here are a few snapshots of Lyric's transition to working from home.
In this scene, the King of Siam has just hosted a successful dinner for a group of English diplomats and their wives. The King (Paolo Montalbán) has a moment alone with his children's governess, Anna Leonowens (Kate Baldwin), who attempts to explain certain Western customs. Recalling what it's like for a girl at her first dance, she does a polka on her own, but then the King insists that she teach him to dance with her.
Looking for things to do at home? Many of us are spending much more time with our little ones lately, and we’d love to help you share your love of music with your family while at home. Head to our new Kids Corner for all kinds of music-related activities like word searches, coloring pages, mad-libs, and more!
In The Barber of Seville, irrepressible Rosina refuses to marry her pompous old guardian. Meanwhile, a bold young count is eager to win Rosina for himself. And who's going to make sure those two finish the opera united? The cleverest character in all of Seville: the barber Figaro, whose services are sought after by everyone for everything (the guy has a lot more talents than just cutting hair). Rossini's music—the aural equivalent of champagne—is the last word in humor, inspiring smiles and laughter on every page of the score, which is what makes Barber the most popular of all operatic comedies.
Here, in act three of Rigoletto, Rigoletto (Quinn Kelsey) and Gilda (Rosa Feola) arrive outside. The Duke's (Matthew Polenzani) voice can be heard from inside, singing "La donna è mobile" ("Woman is fickle"). Sparafucile's sister, Maddalena (Zanda Švēde), has lured him to the house. Rigoletto and Gilda listen from outside as the Duke flirts with Maddalena. Gilda laments that the Duke is unfaithful.
As many of us approach two months under a stay-at-home order, some of us might be longing for some Rossinian hijinks to pass the time. Today's featured excerpt comes from this past season's audience and critical favorite, The Barber of Seville. Count Almaviva, portrayed by tenor Lawrence Brownlee, serenades Rosina while disguised as the poor student Lindoro. We think that this outdoor performance of "Ecco ridente in cielo" fulfills Chicago's current social distancing guidelines, and we hope it adds to your "finding happiness through music" quota for the day!
Are you singing at home? We certainly are. Nothing quite compares to the power of song to lift the spirits. So this week we bring you tenor Matthew Polenzani, a Lyric favorite and alumnus of the Ryan Opera Center, singing one of opera's greatest melodies, "La donna è mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto. We dare you not to sing along!
If you come to see an opera performance at Lyric, you might notice a small, unobtrusive black box that sticks up slightly from the edge of the stage, positioned just above the orchestra pit. Would you believe that a person actually spends an entire opera in that small space? It's the prompter's box! While the prompter might be hidden from view, it is an incredibly important job. A prompter is the liaison between the conductor in the pit and the singers on stage. Having a prompter is a safety net for singers who have to remember several hours of material, usually in foreign languages.
Porgy and Bess, by composer George Gershwin and librettists Ira Gershwin and Dubois Heward, is one of the most popular American operas of all time. Not only that, its opening aria, "Summertime" is one of the most beloved songs in American music. In 2012, The New York Times reported that "Summertime" had been covered by artists of all genres more than 25,000 times. We can only imagine how much more that number has grown since. Join us as we delve into the rich history of artists covering this American classic.
From everyone here at Lyric, we'd like to wish all of the wonderful moms a very Happy Mother's Day. While there aren't many maternal role models to be found in opera, we all know that the way to any music-loving mom's heart is with an opera-inspired card. Click through to download your own!
We're all adapting to our changed world in different ways. Maybe you've adjusted your workout routine to your living room or turned your kitchen into a home office. For Lyric, it means doing everything we can to bring you the music you love even while you're at home. In honor of the Ring cycle that would have wrapped up on May 3, we bring you this awe-inspiring clip from Das Rheingold, featuring Diana Newman, Annie Rosen, Lindsay Ammann, and Samuel Youn in “Lugt, Schwestern."
Then, take a look back at some of the Legends of Lyric who excelled in German roles, learn about life backstage with Wardrobe, Wigs, and Makeup Director Scott Marr, and delve into the life and career of Lyric favorite Patricia Racette.
In this scene from La traviata, Violetta (Albina Shagimuratova), a courtesan in Paris, gives a party where she's wooed by Alfredo (Giorgio Berrugi). Once she's alone, she laughs off the idea of true love and vows to live for pleasure, even when she hears the voice of Alfredo outside her window.
Here, Elektra's consuming desire to avenge her father Agamemnon's murder has been fulfilled: the murderers — Elektra's mother Klytämnestra and Klytämestra's lover, Aegisth — have been killed by Elektra's brother, Orest. Elektra (Nina Stemme) exults with her sister, Chrysothemis (Elza van den Heever), but after a few moments of dancing in triumph, she falls dead, leaving Chrysothemis despairingly calling for Oretes.
As intense as your favorite Netflix show might be, it doesn't hold a candle to the drama of Elektra. Watch an extended video of Nina Stemme and Elza van den Heever in the final scene of Strauss's violent thriller and be relieved that Elektra is not on your "quaranteam." Then, revisit the legacy of legendary Lyric favorite Richard Tucker, learn about the instruments of the Ring, and get a tap lesson from Lyric leading artists Ryan McKinny and noteable Ryan Opera Center Alum Amanda Majeski.
When Lyric had to cancel the Ring, the wonderful members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra still found a way to perform for Lyric audiences, playing individually from apartments and home studios all over the Chicago area and beyond, and — as you'll see — very much sharing the experience.
Begin the month of May on a high note with week eight of Metropolitan Opera's Nightly Streams!
Prepare yourself for the upcoming season with The Marriage of Figaro streaming on Monday evening and Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci streaming on Sunday to bookend your first full week of May. You'll also have the chance to revisit the 18/19 Season's beloved La bohème streaming on Friday night. Renée Fleming returns for another week alongside Lyric favorites Bryn Terfel, Eric Owens and Patricia Racette.
"Quando me'n vo'" (also known as "Musetta's Waltz") is a soprano aria from Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème. Here, in Act Two, Mimì, Rodolfo, and their friends have come to Café Momus for a drink. Musetta appears, accompanied by Alcindoro, her rich admirer. Agitated at being ignored by Marcello, Musetta launches into a song — to provoke and seduce him.
Many of us probably wish we could visit a bustling Parisian café right now, which is why this week we're living vicariously through soprano Danielle de Niese as Musetta singing "Quando me'n vo'" from our 2018 production of La bohème. We're also reprising a lighthearted Patter Up interview with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, a behind-the-scenes Q&A with Wig Master and makeup designer Sarah Hatten, and a little inspiration for the at-home mixologists with new Lyric Libations.
While we await the day you can join us at the Lyric Opera House for a live performance, you can show off your Lyric love with a custom Zoom background. Whether you want to have a drink with Carmen at Lillas Pastia's Inn, face a larger-than-life dragon with Siegfried, or be the star of your own opera on the Ken Pigott Stage, scroll down to find the perfect background for your next meeting or family gathering.
April 27 marks week seven of the Metropolitan Opera's Nightly Streams. Enjoy your opera favorites from the comfort of your own home!
Revisit this previous season's The Three Queens with Donizetti's Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux streaming Monday-Wednesday. Supplement your time with a feature article written by Lyric's Roger Pines as he delves into the historical context of these Donizetti queens. This week's lineup also showcases many Lyric favorites including Sondra Radvanovsky, Ryan Opera Center Alum Matthew Polenzani, and Joyce DiDonato.
Here, in a moment of solitude, the Trojan captive princess Ilia (Janai Brugger) — unaware that her beloved, the Cretan prince Idamante, is nearby — thinks of him and asks the breezes to carry her love to him.
At a time when the days often blend into one another, does "TGIF" still apply? We think it does! If you feel like you've binge-watched every show on your list and you long for the thrill of great opera performance, today we're sharing an extended excerpt from Mozart's incomparably beautiful Idomeneo.
Just as you have probably needed to take a step away from some of the people and things you love, so have the artists at Lyric Opera. And what they really love is making music together for you. It's not surprising, then, that when Lyric had to cancel the Ring, members of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra still found a way to perform for our audience, playing individually from apartments and home studios all over the Chicago area, and — as you'll see — very much sharing the experience together.
Week six of the Metropolitan Opera's Nightly Streams begins on April 20. You can still enjoy your opera favorites while practicing social distancing!
The week kicks off with Richard Strauss' Elektra, featuring Nina Stemme in the titular role. Lyric audiences will remember her visceral performance from our 2018|19 Season. You'll also see Lyric Special Projects Advisor Renée Fleming, and Ryan Opera Center Alum Matthew Polenzani featured in this week's lineup.
Today, we pay homage to the Ring with the famed "Ride of the Valkyries" from our 2017 production of Die Walküre, and share a Lyric Legends profile of magnificent French soprano Régine Crespin, a soul-nurturing performance of Rusalka's "Song to the Moon," and a fun game of spotting our music director.
Even though Sir Andrew Davis is safe and sound at home, his heart will always be at the opera house. Thankfully, with a little Photoshop magic, he can hang out with Don Quichotte, Brünnhilde, or Figaro while still observing social distancing. See if you can spot him in some of his favorite opera scenes
In this scene, the maid Suzuki (Deborah Nansteel) doubts that, after a three- year absence, Cio-Cio-San's American husband will ever return. Cio-Cio-San (Ana María Martínez) assures her that it will happen, and describes what it will be like when he climbs the hill to the house, and how she will feel when she finally sees him again.
They've always been there to welcome us home after a long day at the opera house. Now, meet some of the friendly and furry faces keeping us company while we work from home. The pups may not have perfect pitch and the cats don't know how to collate, but they are still a very important part of the team.
"Au fond du temple saint" ("At the back of the holy temple", also known as "The Pearl Fishers Duet") is a duet from Georges Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers).
The decision to cancel the 2020 Ring cycle, while absolutely necessary to ensure the health and safety of our patrons, our artists, our staff, and our city, was heartbreaking for Lyric.
This week, we're here to transport you, as only opera can do. We're visiting the faraway land of Ceylon, where The Pearl Fishers is set, and you'll hear tenor Matthew Polenzani as Nadir and baritone Mariusz Kwiecień as Zurga in the heartfelt duet "Au fond du temple saint," recounting the moment they both fell in love with the same beautiful, veiled priestess.
In these times of social distancing and spending our days at home, we’ve become very familiar with our pets’ daily nap schedules, the neighbors’ strange vacuuming hours in thin-walled apartments, and our coworkers’ coffee mug collections during video meetings. Thankfully, we’ve also gotten to know you better and we’re enjoying our conversations through email and on social media! To show you how we feel, we’ve included a clip of “Getting to Know You” from our 2016 production of The King and I, sung by Kate Baldwin.
The Metropolitan Opera has been providing free nightly operas through streaming on their web site. These presentations provide a great opportunity to enjoy the majesty of opera within the comforts of home. One way to enhance your enjoyment of these broadcasts is by listening to Lyric Opera Commentaries.
Enjoy learning more about the legendary Tito Gobbi, testing your Lyric know-how, a video of some of our favorite artists performing together virtually, and this previously unreleased footage of tenor Lawrence Brownlee in our 2018 production of Bellini’s I Puritani.
Yes, the music is sublime, the spectacle is incredible, and the characters find their ways into our hearts. But even the most avid opera lovers can admit that some of our favorite operas have plot holes you could drive a bus through. Here are ten examples of operas with stories so wild, you'd think they were an April Fool's joke.
Compositionally and instrumentally, Götterdämmerung couldn’t have been written the way it was if Wagner hadn’t stopped midway in the cycle to write Tristan and Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The astonishing thing is that, although you might think there would be a huge change in style, it actually doesn’t quite feel that way, except that certainly Götterdämmerung is miles ahead of the others in terms of complexity and virtuosity of orchestration.
One of the curiosities of the Ring is its reversed compositional timeline – in itself a tribute to the astonishing artistic grasp that Wagner maintained over his huge project. Götterdämmerung was the first of the libretti to be crafted, and then the other three pieces were gradually added to flesh out its backstory.
Die Walküre, the second opera of Richard Wagner’s mammoth Ring of the Nibelung cycle long has reigned as the most popular of the tetralogy and ranks among the favorites of the composer’s entire oeuvre. Wagner is challenging to many operagoers, but even those devoted to more compact, more obviously tuneful Italian and French standard-repertoire works often make room for Die Walküre.
From the sustained E-flat chord that opens the work in the depths of the Rhine to the final grand entrance of the gods into Valhalla, Das Rheingold is filled with musical glories. There is nonstop action, a rarity in Wagner operas, as the composer keeps the pedal to the metal.
Welcome to the latest Lyric Music & More! This week, we bring you an interview with our charge artist, Brian Traynor, a birthday tribute to composer Jake Heggie, activities you can do with the little ones in your life, and more original Lyric commentaries to enjoy before the Met’s nightly free streams. But everything starts with music, and in this issue we’re sharing a previously unreleased excerpt from our 2018 production of Puccini’s Turandot — featuring the wonderful Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus.
Love. Jealousy. Revolution. Death. It all can be found in Puccini's Tosca. Three characters—the rebel, the diva, and the villain—are caught a game of cat-and-mouse with deadly consequences. Non-stop drama could require a cocktail (or three) to unwind. Pick your favorite!
As we get ready to ride into a new weekend, we hope you're doing well and have everything you need — including some great music to pass the time. Today, we share a clip from our 2019 production of Verdi's Luisa Miller — a scene between Luisa and her father starring Krassimira Stoyanova and Quinn Kelsey with the Lyric Opera Orchestra under Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola. If you need a little excitement in your life right now, we hope these vocal fireworks will be just the thing to make your day!
We invite you to prepare for The Metropolitan Opera Ring cycle broadcasts by listening to the Lyric Opera Commentaries before settling in for your viewing.
We at Lyric are committed to keeping the music alive during these uncertain times and connecting with you by sharing some of our favorite Lyric moments and providing you with fun, uplifting, and interesting content to help pass the time until we meet again at the Lyric Opera House.
On Valentine's Day, Norah and Jeff visited Lyric for the first time to see Puccini's Madama Butterfly. We caught up with them at intermission to hear their thoughts on the experience. Here is a glimpse into their own love story and why the couple chose Lyric for their perfect date night.
True to herself: Cio-Cio-San speaks
Ana María Martínez, widely recognized around the globe for her portrayal of Cio-Cio-San, illustrates for us her profound commitment to this character and how one presents this role in today's world. In this blog, she considers Cio-Cio-San's origins and early hardships with a keen understanding of how both the character's experiences and her culture shape the actions and choices we see onstage.
Psst...We're going to let you in on a little secret. While everyone is familiar with the expression "a night at the opera," there are tons of perks to switching things up with an afternoon matinee. Talk to many people about where their love for opera started, and you'll hear that their parents and grandparents listened to the Met Saturday afternoon broadcasts, which started in 1931.
Don Giovanni is a glorious enigma. Its music is so enthralling, and yet its sentiments are confusing, perhaps also confused. Is the listener to be captivated by the Don, and to feel a sense of loss when he leaves the world – as many romantic interpreters have believed? If so, there is one sort of problem: for this Don is a really horrible person, who, despite a certain boyish energy and charm, has no sympathy at all for anyone else and who uses a combination of class dazzle and sheer force to make his conquests.
If you're an opera audience member who is thrilled by the power of a full chorus blowing your hair back with sound, then you're no stranger to the wonder of Verdi. From the grandeur of Aida to the famed drinking song in La traviata, and the unforgettable sounds of the Anvil Chorus of Il trovatore, Verdi's choruses are among the most memorable moments in his operas.
Rob Ashford is a director, choreographer, and dancer. He also happens to be a Tony Award, Olivier Award, Emmy Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award winner. When general director Anthony Freud first approached Ashford about directing a brand-new production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville in 2014, it may have been his first time directing an opera, but it was far from his first exposure to the art form.
When Callas first arrived at the Lyric Opera House in 1954, everyone thought she would be preoccupied with glamour and stardom. However, she was only interested in rehearsal — her first questions were, "Where is the maestro? When do we start work?"
As the only pianist in the Ryan Opera Center, Madeline's role is a unique one. Throughout the course of the year, the Ensemble pianist is responsible for helping to prepare his or her colleagues for Lyric season roles and other assignments. Not only is the pianist required to learn multiple operas each season, she or he also advises the Ensemble on art song and non-traditional repertoire.
When it comes to grand opera, lavish productions are to be expected. However, Lyric’s knack for producing music theater on the biggest scale doesn’t stop there. Each spring, we bring our technical, artistic, and musical resources and expertise to a classic Broadway musical.
American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim turns 89 years old today! As everyone at Lyric is poised to start rehearsal for West Side Story (onstage May 3 - June 2), today offers the perfect chance to reflect upon the career and contributions of one of the artists who created this ground-breaking work.
To binge-watch something – to invest time and emotions in a story – it must have the greatest actors, thrilling plot twists, and an undercurrent of psychological sizzle that keeps viewers clicking. In short, it must follow the formula that Richard Strauss used more than a century ago in Elektra.
The convoluted schemes, mistaken identities, and star-crossed lovers of Ariodante are connected by a series of heart-wrenching arias – moments when the plot pauses to allow the audience to engage their empathy. Modern television shows like Glee and Smash also use music to express the characters’ emotions.
Living in the city, following their dreams, falling in and out of love, all while barely scraping by: this is the reality of life for the main characters in La bohème, but also for today’s Millennials. The modern Millennial is seen on TV shows like How I Met Your Mother, Broad City, Shameless, and more.
Whether you’re an opera lover or a Broadway fanatic, you’ve probably heard by now that the 1996 musical Rent was loosely based on the 1896 opera La bohème. But if that’s news to you, don’t worry! Let us walk you through the similarities… (some spoilers ahead!)
There’s no time of year quite like the holidays, and it’s the perfect occasion to treat your loved ones to an experience they’ll never forget. From performance tickets to OperaShop apparel, here are just a few ways to give the gift of Lyric to the opera (or musical!) aficionados in your life.
Tequila and lime, gin and tonic, opera and ballet...Sometimes the most simple combination can turn into something truly magical. Celebrate the first collaboration between Lyric Opera and The Joffrey Ballet with these Orphée et Eurydice-inspired cocktail recipes and see Gluck's baroque masterpiece through October 15.
Situated on the Chicago River, the Lyric Opera House is just as beautiful as the operas that take place on its stage. However, it’s easy to understand how someone can feel overwhelmed during their first visit. That’s why we’ve created this handy beginner’s guide to help you get around!
Sunday night, season 7 of HBO’s Game of Thrones started off with a bang as millions tuned in to watch the drama unfold. However, with the show drawing to a close in 2018, many fans are left wondering where they’ll turn to satisfy their need for fantasy, drama, and intrigue after the show ends. Fortunately, we know the perfect place to go for all your Game of Thrones needs: Lyric!
Creating a new production is an exciting and time-consuming undertaking for any opera company. This season, Lyric is debuting three brand-new productions: Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Berlioz’s Les Troyens, and Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The first of these shows is onstage now, but we’re going take a quick look back to see how the magic came to life.