March 06, 2019

Meet the Carmens!

Chicago audiences are in for a sizzling treat this season: two spectacular, sultry Carmens will bring Bizet’s beloved role to life on the Lyric stage!

Carmen – perhaps the best known and widely adored works of French opera – tells the tale of the outrageous, independent cigarette girl in Seville whose passion and seductive prowess will leave you stunned. Nearly every melody in Bizet’s dazzling score has enchanted the popular imagination, from the alluring “Habanera” to the exhilarating “Toreador Song.” And no matter which performance of Lyric’s Carmenyou attend, you are sure to be seduced by the immense talent and undeniable stage presence shared by our two leading ladies. 

From February 11 to March 6, Carmen will be sung by Ekaterina Gubanova, a Moscow native, and one of today’s most celebrated mezzo-sopranos. It’s particularly exciting for Lyric that Gubanova makes her role debut with this production. But though she’ll be dazzling us with her Carmen for the first time, she’s racked up accolades in a number of repertoires (from Berlioz to Wagner to Verdi to Offenbach) at the major opera houses of Rome, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, St. Petersburg, Munich, London, and New York. Most recently, she triumphed as Brangäne (a signature role for her) in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, which opened the current Metropolitan Opera season to great acclaim. Next, she’ll transport us to sunny Spain in the middle of the Chicago winter, and opera lovers all over the city are thrilled to witness her highly anticipated role debut.

Georgian mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili takes up the castanets from March 16 to 25. Rachvelishvili is a veteran of the role, one of her generation’s most in-demand Carmens. In fact, she made her sensational debut as Carmen at La Scala in 2009, among the very youngest singers ever to open the season in a starring role! Since then, Rachvelishvili has portrayed the gypsy at countless opera houses internationally, including the Met, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Covent Garden, and San Francisco Opera. In the current season, she’s wowed audiences as Carmen already at the Opéra National de Paris and the Bavarian State Opera. Soon, she’ll add Lyric Opera of Chicago to that growing list!

Lyric is so fortunate this season to have not one but two of the world’s preeminent mezzo-sopranos igniting the stage for Bizet’s Carmen. You might just have to see two performances to experience it all!

New Lyric Opera coproduction of Bizet’s Carmen generously made possible by

Harris Family Foundation

James N. and Laurie V. Bay

Karen Z. Gray-Krehbiel and John H. Krehbiel, Jr.

Mazza Foundation

Seymour H. Persky Charitable Trust

Coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera.

Photo: Lynn Lane/Houston Grand Opera