February 23, 2022

World Premieres — and Tradition!

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s dazzling 2022/23 Season will feature productions of classic operas, a continuing focus on developing and presenting new work, and the return of Lyric’s annual spring musical. General Director, President & CEO Anthony Freud and Music Director Enrique Mazzola are pleased to present this exciting mix of works, marking the company’s 68th season.

“Our next season will showcase the breadth of opera at its most engaging,” Freud says. “I am particularly excited by the two world premieres we have commissioned, and for Chicago audiences to experience these relevant and diverse stories. I am proud that Lyric is at the forefront of expanding the boundaries of the opera house and bringing more diverse stories, and new voices telling those stories, to our stage and the communities we serve.”

The season opens with a thrilling continuation of Lyric’s acclaimed Early Verdi Series, under the baton of Mazzola, a noted expert in this area of the repertoire, and director Louisa Muller. Ernani reveals Verdi at his most irresistibly melodic and dramatic. A persecuted nobleman forced to disguise himself as an outlaw, Ernani loves beautiful Elvira, but she’s pursued by two other men—her uncle, Silva, and the King of Spain, Carlo. This “love quadrangle” inspires grand-scale arias and ensembles, bursting with the composer’s unique energy and drive. Tamara Wilson, Russell Thomas, Quinn Kelsey, and Christian Van Horn—a quartet of world-renowned Verdians, each with a rich performance history at Lyric— will take the lead roles in this sumptuous production.

Barrie Kosky's Fiddler on the Roof

The season continues with a new operatically scaled rendition of the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof, conceived by iconoclastic opera director Barrie Kosky and conducted by Kimberly Grigsby in her Lyric debut. This Komische Oper Berlin production has triumphed in a number of European cities, and makes its long- planned United States debut at Lyric. One of the world's leading opera directors, Kosky is celebrated from Vienna to Paris and from Bayreuth to London, where his new Ring cycle will take the stage at the Royal Opera starting next year. When his production of Fiddler on the Roof premiered in Berlin in 2017, international critics heralded the arrival of a completely original and unique experience created from this revered, Tony Award-winning masterpiece.

The season also offers the grand return of Georges Bizet’s Carmen, the immortal tale of the restless, free- spirited heroine and Don José, the soldier who is ineluctably drawn to her. This production will star J’Nai Bridges, an alumna of Lyric’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, as the alluring femme fatale; her co- stars include Charles Castronovo, one of the world’s most acclaimed tenors last seen as the endearing Nemorino in The Elixir of Love, and Golda Schultz and Andrei Kymach in their Lyric debuts. The production is conducted by Henrik Nánási and directed by Marie Lambert.

Next in the season is Verdi’s epic drama Don Carlos, presented at Lyric for the first time in its original five-act French version, conducted by Music Director Enrique Mazzola in a production by Sir David McVicar. Acknowledged as one of the most magnificent achievements in the history of opera, Don Carlos masterfully reveals the private turmoil of very public personalities. In 16th century Spain, King Philip II is torn apart by his own jealous suspicions that his son, crown prince Carlos, and Queen Elisabeth—Philip’s young wife and Carlos’s stepmother—are in love. The drama unfolds and confronts audiences with unforgettable intensity and thrilling musical splendor. This epic reveals Verdi in his prime, in a production graced with performances from Rachel Willis-Sørensen, Clémentine Margaine, Joshua Guerrero, Igor Golovatenko in his Lyric debut, Dmitry Belosselskiy, and Soloman Howard.

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee in the title role of Rossini's Le Comte Ory

Bravura vocal acrobatics are up next, in the Lyric premiere of Rossini's frothy Le Comte Ory. The creator of The Barber of Seville strikes again with this sidesplitting comedy replete with onstage antics that match its high- energy music. Hijinks ensue when Countess Adèle sequesters herself in her castle while her valiant brother is away on a crusade. In his absence, the amorous Count Ory stops at nothing (including disguising himself as a nun!) to gain entry to the castle and woo the virtuous Countess. In this witty Bartlett Sher production from the Metropolitan Opera, conducted by Music Director Enrique Mazzola, bel canto tenor par excellence Lawrence Brownlee stars in the virtuosic title role—one of his specialties internationally— opposite the Countess of Kathryn Lewek, one of her generation's most scintillating coloratura sopranos. You'll smile from the overture to the happy ending.

"In my second full season as music director, I am honored to be conducting three classic works: Ernani, a key title in our Early Verdi Series, and Don Carlos and Le Comte Ory, two sensational operas that I have the pleasure of introducing to Lyric audiences," Mazzola says.

Director Richard Jones's larger-than-life production of Hansel and Gretel

In another highlight of the 2022/23 Season, the company will celebrate the return of Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric's former music director, as he takes the podium for Englebert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, in Lyric's iconic production originally directed by Richard Jones. This celebrated opera returns by popular demand, having wowed audiences of all ages both in its debut 20 years ago and in its return in 2012. A rivetingly modern, astonishingly inventive view of the Brothers Grimm fairytale, this visually stunning and darkly whimsical production does full justice to Humperdinck's glorious score.

 Lyric has enjoyed tremendous success in recent years with presenting thought-provoking chamber operas, works such as The Property by Wlad Marhulets and Stephanie Fleischmann, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird by Daniel Schnyder and Bridgette A. Wimberly, Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce, and An American Dream by Jack Perla and Jessica Murphy Moo.

The first of Lyric’s two world premieres in the 2022/23 Season is a chamber work that will be performed at The Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The Factotum is a “soul opera,” composed by the star baritone Will Liverman and DJ/producer King Rico, who bring their unique blend of musical styles to this new comedy set in a Black barbershop on Chicago’s South Side. Kedrick Armstrong and Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj make their Lyric debuts conducting and directing this world premiere. The new chamber work piece, commissioned by Lyric and inspired by Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, is a joyful comedy, moving from gospel and funk to rap, hip-hop, classic barbershop quartet, and R&B—all connected brilliantly with classical singing.


DJ/producer King Rico (L) and star baritone Will Liverman (R) during the creation of their new opera, The Factotum

The second world premiere in the 2022/23 Season is Proximity, a trio of new American operas commissioned by Lyric and performed on Lyric’s mainstage. This ground-breaking project features three new works with intertwining themes—intended to be experienced as a single, riveting whole— and features the Lyric debuts of some of the most important artists of our time: composer Daniel Bernard Roumain working with acclaimed playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith as librettist, for Git Here; Caroline Shaw, composer, working as co-librettist with Jocelyn Clarke for Four Portraits; and John Luther Adams, setting a text by the late poet John Haines for Night.

Director Yuval Sharon has been instrumental in working with the creative teams in the development of the project and will direct this production. Proximity is conducted by Kazem Abdullah in his Lyric debut; Lyric Special Projects Advisor Renée Fleming is the project’s curator.

The powerful trio of works confronts head-on some of the greatest challenges affecting us as a society: yearning for connection in a world driven by technology; the devastating impact of gun violence on cities and neighborhoods; and the need to respect and protect our natural resources. As the story zooms in and out from the individual to the community to the cosmic, we find ourselves in a compelling snapshot of 21st century life, with all of its complex intersections and commonalities.

The season also includes a one-night-only event featuring soprano Renée Fleming and baritone Rod Gilfry in concert with the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Enrique Mazzola. The October 8, 2022 program includes the Chicago premiere of The Brightness of Light, composed by Pulitzer Prize winner Kevin Puts. This superb new work is based on letters between painter Georgia O’Keeffe and her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. These texts and Puts’s remarkable music offer a marvelous showcase for the probing, profoundly connecting and sensitive artistry of Fleming and Gilfry, who sang the premiere with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2019.

Mikaela Bennett as Maria and Corey Cott as Tony in Lyric's 2018/19 production of West Side Story

Heralding the return of its traditional spring musical, Lyric’s hit production of the classic West Side Story concludes the company’s 2022/23 Season. Leonard Bernstein’s music and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics will once again transplant Romeo and Juliet to the backstreets of New York City in this timeless Broadway musical masterpiece, a Francesca Zambello production that stands as one of the most successful shows in company history.

And, of course, that’s just one of the many special occasions ahead. The new cultural season starts on a literal high note with Sunday in the Park with Lyric’s Rising Stars on August 21, 2022, as artists from The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center perform a variety of favorites from the 2022/23 Season accompanied by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and conducted by Enrique Mazzola. The Season Opening Gala, always a grand night of celebration, is slated for September 10, 2022, with cocktails, dinner, and dancing in true Lyric style—an evening not to be missed. And we celebrate the return of the famous Lyric Wine Auction on May 13, 2023. This year, the grand fundraiser, held on The Ken Pigott Stage of the historic Ardis Krainik Theatre, will honor the legendary Maison Joseph Drouhin.

“From breathtaking classics to the new sonic and dramatic worlds of our two world premiere operas,” says Mazzola, “this exciting season presents thrilling music theater in all its forms—past, present, and future!”

Photos: Lyric Opera of Chicago, Iko Freese/Komische Oper Berlin, Jacob F. Lucas/Seattle Opera, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera, Todd Rosenberg