March 06, 2019

Season of Delights - Part 1

Lyric’s 2017/18 season begins in September! We’re hugely excited about all the operas, and it’s our pleasure this month and next month to tell you what you can look forward to in each wonderful production.

We open with Orphée et Eurydice, Gluck’s glorious retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus. What a moving story this is, with Orpheus courageously journeying to the underworld to bring his beloved wife back to earth. It’s thrilling that the production will highlight Lyric’s first-ever collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet. Masterminding this brand-new production of Orphée is the legendary American choreographer John Neumeier. He’s not only choreographing the opera — he’s also director, set and costume designer, and lighting designer. For the first time, Lyric is presenting the French version of this opera, with a tenor rather than an alto Orpheus. Featured in that role is the captivating Dmitry Korchak (Lyric debut), singing opposite two exquisite young sopranos — Ryan Opera Center alumna Andriana Chuchman as Eurydice and Lauren Snouffer as Amour. On the podium will be Harry Bicket, whose brilliance in pre-1800 repertoire is renowned worldwide.

Throughout Lyric’s history Verdi’s Rigoletto has been an audience favorite, thanks to some of the most irresistible melodies in Italian opera! It’s returning in a beautiful San Francisco Opera production conducted by the dynamic Marco Armiliato and starring three truly extraordinary artists. Baritone Quinn Kelsey portrays the tortured, vengeful court jester Rigoletto, his signature role in major houses from San Francisco, Paris, and London to Oslo, Zurich, and Toronto. The incomparably elegant Matthew Polenzani (like Kelsey, a Lyric favorite and a Ryan Opera Center alumnus) plays the licentious Duke of Mantua. The Duke seduces and abandons Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter, to be played by the ravishing young Italian soprano Rosa Feola, in what we can expect to be a memorable Lyric debut.

We then turn to Die Walküre, the second opera of Wagner’s Ring cycle. A new Ring is the most formidable challenge any opera company can undertake, but we’re energized by it at Lyric, especially after last season’s acclaimed production of the cycle’s first opera, Das Rheingold. Director David Pountney and his team are creating a fabulously dramatic, dazzlingly theatrical Ring. Our remarkable music director, Sir Andrew Davis, is conducting, and the principal singers are all world-renowned Wagnerians: Christine Goerke (Brünnhilde, the warrior maiden), Eric Owens (Wotan, king of the gods), Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (Wotan’s wife, Fricka), Brandon Jovanovich (the valiant Siegmund), and two debuting artists — Elisabet Strid (Siegmund’s passionate sister, Sieglinde) and Ain Anger (Sieglinde’s menacing husband, Hunding).

The celebrated tenor-baritone duet from Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers is only one of this opera’s glorious highlights. This beautiful opera that is set on the shores of ancient Ceylon returns to Lyric in a spectacularly colorful production, with sets and costumes by fashion icon Zandra Rhodes. Two magnificent artists, Matthew Polenzani (Nadir) and Mariusz Kwiecień (Zurga), are reprising roles that brought them each a triumph in the Met’s recent new production. The object of their affection — the priestess Leïla — will be Marina Rebeka, who delighted Lyric audiences in both La traviata and Don Giovanni. Sir Andrew Davis will be adding to his French-opera laurels, with Robert Tweten conducting the final performance. If you enjoyed Bizet's Carmen at Lyric this season you won't want to miss The Pearl Fishers!

Next month Lyric Notes will cover the rest of the thrilling 2017/18 season — stay tuned!

Photos and Drawings: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera, EPA/Kay Nietfeld/Shutterstock, Marie Jeanne Lecca, Elise Bakketun/Seattle Opera