June 10, 2021

What are you looking forward to in Lyric's 2021/22 Season?

In mid-May 2021, Lyric Opera of Chicago announced its return to live performances for the 2021/22 Season in a joint press event with The Joffrey Ballet, which is becoming the resident ballet company at the Lyric Opera House. This much anticipated season is filled with exciting new-to-Chicago productions and premieres, improved accessibility and brand-new seats in the Lyric Opera House, and it also marks the beginning of Enrique Mazzola's tenure as Lyric's music director. We asked staff and artists from all corners of Lyric what they are most excited about this upcoming season:

Maestro Enrique Mazzola leads a new-to-Chicago production of The Elixir of Love.

Anthony Freud:
General Director, President and CEO

It is incredibly exciting to be preparing for live performances in the Lyric Opera House again after this unprecedented time. We're back! And that's what I'm most excited about. Everyone at Lyric Opera of Chicago has been working tirelessly during this past year to keep Lyric moving forward artistically and financially, and to ensure that attending live performances at the Lyric Opera House will be as accessible and safe as possible. I'm looking forward to seeing our Lyric family together again and to welcoming our audiences back into our beloved opera house. I can’t wait to see our brand new seats that are more comfortable and accessible, fully occupied by our audiences!

Enrique Mazzola:
Music Director

I am thrilled to begin my first season as Lyric's music director and embrace Chicago as my new home. We have a great season planned for our audiences and I'm looking forward to working with the incredible Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus in the operas I'm conducting: Verdi's Macbeth, Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, and Mazzoli's Proving Up.

Andreas Melinat
Vice President, Artistic Planning

While I'm looking forward to all of the titles we will offer on the main stage, I'm particularly eager for us to present the chamber opera Proving Up next January. I attended the first performance of the opera in 2018 after having been moved by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek's previous opera, Breaking the Waves. Both operas present an identifiable "voice" of the composer, responding to the evocative words of the librettist to create memorable theater - clearly collaborators in sync with each other. I recommended the opera to Anthony Freud and our then-director of Lyric Unlimited, Cayenne Harris, and was thrilled when they found it as special as I did. These creators form one of the most potent, exciting teams making new opera for the 21st century, and I hope our audiences find Proving Up as emotionally rewarding as I do.

Lyric produces the company premiere of Missy Mazzoli's haunting Proving Up.

Mimi Tachouet
Principal Flute, Lyric Opera Orchestra

Looking over the 2021-2022 Lyric Season brings so much anticipation about the productions and experiences that audiences and company members will enjoy again. I'm excited to work with Maestro Mazzola in his first year as Music Director, and to celebrate with Maestro Davis next April. As a woodwind player, I have one of the best seats in the house — tremendous voices above, a beautiful view of our house and audiences to the front, and surround-sound of my colleagues playing exquisite scores! I can't begin to describe how it feels to be in the middle of it all. Our first performance back, sharing live music with audiences and with each other, will be a joyful and emotional one! 

Corinne Wallace-Crane:
Alto, Lyric Opera Chorus

This next season I’m most looking forward to Macbeth! Not only are we performing it with a true Verdi master (Maestro Mazzola), but I’ve only been in the chorus of this show in a concert version. I’ve always wanted to see it with costumes/sets/scenery, and Lyric always knocks it out of the park with the visual aspect of an opera. I'm very excited to take part in that, especially considering it’s our first official show we’ll open with, post-pandemic!

Kevin Krasinski:
Artist Servies Manager

As a musician and performer myself, I know too well the loss that all of our artists felt at the necessary shuttering of our stages, concert halls, churches, salons, and all other places where we had the privilege to most fully express ourselves to and with our fellow humans. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to once again facilitate in my small way the opportunity for our artists to share themselves with you. My anticipation is particularly acute for the world premiere of Sir David McVicar's new production of Verdi's Macbeth, which opens our season and heralds our new beginning. Those with whom I've had the privilege of speaking over Zoom will have seen the rather intentionally placed image of the great Nina Stemme as Elektra, on Lyric's own stage, joyously playing with the blood of her tormentous family. That production, like all of Sir David's, is visceral, arresting, and current. I have seen the designs for Macbeth and am certain it will affect you in exactly the same way. See you in September!

A preliminary sketch for Macbeth by designer John Macfarlane.

Brittany Gonzalez Camuy:
Director of Group Sales

I am most looking forward to seeing Fire Shut Up in my Bones for many reasons, including it being a contemporary work and that it brings Black stories to Lyric's stage in a full-scale production. I'm also very excited about the Joffrey Ballet residence. I think pairing opera and ballet is a perfect combination of classical art forms and since our audiences are similar, it makes for great co-marketing opportunities.

LaRob Payton:
Coordinator, Lyric Unlimited

The upcoming season looks exciting. I'm particularly looking forward to Florencia en el Amazonas and Fire Shut Up In My Bones. It's way past time for Lyric to bring these important, diverse stories to the mainstage. Joffrey Ballet as our new housemates might also offer me a chance to finally see a performance of The Nutcracker! I'm looking forward to seeing their beautiful work performed in the Lyric Opera House. 

Will Liverman:
Baritone and Ryan Opera Center alumnus, Charles in Fire Shut Up in My Bones

After working with Lyric this past year to workshop my new opera The Factotum in their space, it already felt a bit like I was coming home, considering how much time I have spent in the beautiful Lyric Opera House during my time in the Ryan Opera Center. But now, it's invigorating to know that Lyric is returning to live mainstage performances this fall and I'm honored to be a part of the Fire Shut Up in My Bones cast that closes out Lyric's 21/22 Season. Telling Black stories means a lot to me, and I have the opportunity to perform the premieres of the work at both Lyric and The Met this season, which is a dream. I look forward to helping introduce the beautiful Black artistry of Terence Blanchard, Kasi Lemmons, and Charles M. Blow to new audiences.

New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s words come to life in Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

Ana María Martínez:
Soprano, Florencia in Florencia en el Amazonas 

To walk into Lyric Opera of Chicago is to breathe in the magic of possibility. The warm, kind, and generous spirit that abounds at Lyric was fostered by the extraordinary Ardis Krainik and still thrives today. Lyric is a place where all artists feel supported and encouraged to do our best work, always aiming towards our highest potential, and once we step on the Lyric Opera House stage to manifest all that we have collectively created, the embrace of the pulsating auditorium is spellbinding.

There are many emotions, profound ones, regarding my return to Lyric this coming fall, to offer for the first time in the history of Lyric, Florencia en el Amazonas; from one version of a butterfly to another. The butterfly symbolizes transcendence and in this masterpiece the audience receives the opera through the storytelling lens of magical realism. I was fortunate to be friends with the opera's composer, Daniel Catán, and every time I hear this score and sing his music, I feel his presence so closely with everyone involved. It is my sincere wish that the audience will enjoy the beauty of this opera as much as all of us involved in presenting it.

I wish Lyric and all theaters around the world a very big "In Bocca al Lupo!" I am so grateful that humanity is turning a corner and can see the light at the end of the tunnel shining so brightly!

Ana María Martínez returns to Lyric's stage for the beautiful Florencia en el Amazonas.

Alex Demas: 
Sales Manager

I have felt such immense relief since the season announcement, almost as if it was a sign that the world has started returning to normal. Opera is a huge part of who I am and has been a very prominent aspect of my daily life during the past year and half. No other medium can make such great use of at least four out of your five senses than watching or listening to a live production. Picking just one production, or one element from next season, to be most excited about is almost impossible. One of the operas that I look forward to attending the most is Donizetti’s Elixir of Love. The opera itself is one of the crown jewels of the Italian bel canto music, funny yet dramatic and full to the brim with some of the most memorable arias in the repertory. I cannot wait to, once again, listen to the incredible Charles Castronovo, whose rendition of Lenski’s aria in Eugene Onegin a few seasons ago was one of the most legendary performances I have ever witnessed live.  

Samuel Hamzem:
Fourth Horn, Lyric Opera Orchestra

It’s been so long without live music and without an audience that I find myself excited to return and a little overwhelmed, as well. How is it going to be? Are we really coming back to normal? What is normal? The excitement of the first performance, with Maestro Mazzola and the new seats at the opera house, and the upcoming season brings such great expectations and hope! I am looking forward to all the productions, especially the tragic Tosca, with the beautiful horn section entrance in the beginning of the last act. As a horn player in the great Lyric Opera Orchestra, I couldn’t be more happy and excited to make music again!

This new-to-Chicago production of Puccini's Tosca is grand-scale opera at its finest.

Dan Novak:
Vice President and Director, Ryan Opera Center

What I am most looking forward to in the upcoming season is the communal experience of live performance, being together to create moments that are possible only in person. The connection felt by everyone in the theater as the artists are pouring their hearts out and the audience responds is pure magic — and I can't wait for those moments to return!

Paul Sprecher
Philanthropy Officer

As someone who loves the music of Mozart and is intrigued by silent films, I'm most excited to see how Barrie Kosky combines the two art forms into an innovative take on Mozart's The Magic Flute. Kosky takes live singing characters and has them interact with cartoons from the silent movie on stage while making sure that each live singer hits their mark in the projected movie. I'm very curious to see how this all comes together on Lyric's stage. Kosky's fun and fairytale-like production is meant for opera lovers of all kinds including those just learning about opera, especially anyone that appreciates the use of live music and movies on stage.

Kosky's production of The Magic Flute pays homage to the silent movies of the 1920s.

Vince Milianti
Senior Director, Financial Planning and Analysis

For me, the most exciting thing about the 2021/22 Season is simply that we're returning to live theater.  No matter the challenges that we may face coming out of the pandemic, there's no denying the optimism that surrounds next year. It's easy to see and hear the excitement that's bubbling in the halls of Lyric and in virtual meetings. Lyric is ready to get back to live theater, and I'm excited to be a part of it.

The new seats in the Lyric Opera House.

Devin Bopp:
Associate Director, Principal Gifts Communications

I'm so excited to see some of my favorite performers return to the stage! In the 2019/20 Season I saw Ying Fang in Don Giovanni, Sondra Radvanovsky in The Queen of Spades, Ana María Martínez in Madama Butterfly, Christian Van Horn in Luisa Miller — and they're all coming back in some wild new productions. I'm sure I'll find some new favorites, too — Lyric debuts and Ryan Opera Center members!

Sam Shuhan:
Assistant Principal Bass, Lyric Opera Orchestra

I am so thrilled to finally be joining the Lyric Opera Orchestra! It is truly an honor to be a part of this historic opera company. I look forward to participating in these wonderful productions and playing alongside my new, incredibly talented colleagues.

Learn more about Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2021/22 Season here and subscribe today!

Header image: LA Opera's Barrie Kosky production of The Magic Flute; credit: Cory Weaver.

Other images: David Bachman, James Matthew Daniel, John Macfarlane, Eric Woolsey, Lynn Lane, Ken Howard, and Darris Lee Harris Photography.