July 08, 2024

Explore Chicago with Enrique Mazzola

While Lyric Music Director Enrique Mazzola’s impressive international career sees him traveling across the world, the conductor has called Chicago home for the past three years. We sat down with Maestro Mazzola to ask him about some of his favorite spots, from popular tourist attractions to hidden gems throughout the city. 


We know you've spent a lot of time at Lyric, in rehearsals and in performance. When you have time off, are there any special spots you've discovered for relaxing or exploring?

Recently, I’ve started to explore different neighborhoods in Chicago. One of the last areas I’ve discovered is Andersonville. I love thrifting and looking for interesting records for my collection. 

Now that your contract is extended and you have even more time in Chicago, are there any bucket list places that you have not had a chance to visit yet? Any experiences you would like to accomplish?

I would love to attend a sports game in Chicago. On my checklist are baseball, American football, and soccer — as an Italian, of course I love soccer so much. Or as Europeans call it, football! I’ve also never been to the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, or the Field Museum… They are on my bucket list for September and October.


Music Director Enrique Mazzola jumps for joy in front of the Lyric Opera House.

Collaborations are often key in the arts. Can you share any memorable collaborations you've had with other cultural institutions or artists in Chicago?

I am a big supporter of musical education and have spent the last few years seeking out opportunities to work with students. For the past few years, I’ve collaborated with Merit School of Music and more recently with Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music to do master classes, rehearsals, and performances with the young musicians.

As an artist, you may be inspired by various aspects of Chicago's culture and history. Is there a particular aspect of the city that has influenced your artistic growth during your time here? 

I’m inspired by the rich architectural landscape of Chicago. It’s a testament of the modernity of the city, which inspires me to offer in our Lyric seasons not only great classics but modern and contemporary operas. I’m also a member of the Art Institute, where I can appreciate artistic journeys from the classics to the art of today. 

Chicago is known for its diverse and engaged audience. How do you approach engaging with the community, both opera enthusiasts and those who may be new to the art form?

It’s vital for me as Music Director to bring in an audience that represents the different communities of our city. One way of bringing in new listeners as well as opera enthusiasts is programming new and diverse works on Lyric’s stage. It’s also important for me to present concerts in the Chicago suburbs and reach audiences who may not have the possibility to attend a production at Lyric.



View this post on Instagram

 Keep up with Maestro Mazzola by following his Instagram, @enriquemazzolanow!

We know you're a big foodie: Any restaurant recommendations?

Yes! With my partner Jennifer, we have discovered Kumiko, a fantastic cocktail bar in the West Loop where you can have the most sophisticated and delicious Japanese tapas. In the Gold Coast, I also love Le Colonial for the grilled salmon and Gibsons for their burger, and in Ravenswood, Spacca Napoli for their pizzas. 

What are you most excited about for Lyric’s 2024/25 Season? Any particular productions, debuts, or anniversaries?

Fidelio! It’s the first time I’m conducting Beethoven’s marvelous (and only) opera. It’s a celebration of freedom against all tyrannies and in this historical moment, we need this music. I’m also so excited to conduct Missy Mazzoli’s The Listeners in the spring. Missy Mazzoli is capable of giving great emotions to the audience through her powerful dramaturgical language. It will be an unmissable production!

Enrique takes a seat in front of the river.

Explore the full 2024/25 Season to see Maestro Mazzola lead star-studded concerts, grand operatic classics, and new works.

Explore the 2024|25 Season

Explore the 2024|25 Season

Embark on a captivating journey through Lyric Opera's 2024/25 Season, where transcendent voices, powerful storytelling, and grand-scale theatrical spectacle await. Including titles Rigoletto, La Bohème, a one-night-only performance by Patti LuPone, and more.

Photos: Joe Mazza