Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 56th season begins Friday with Giuseppe Verdi’s MACBETH - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 56th season begins Friday with Giuseppe Verdi’s MACBETH

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Friday, October 1, 2010

Something wickedly wonderful this way comes!
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 56th season
begins Friday, October 1, at 7:00 p.m.
Giuseppe Verdi’s MACBETH in a new production
by renowned Shakespearean Barbara Gaines
starring Thomas Hampson and Nadja Michael

The Civic Opera House doors will open at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 1 for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Opening Night Gala Benefit. The traditional red carpet will be rolled out and photographers will be on hand to capture elegant arrivals for the start of Lyric's 56th season, which opens with a new production of Verdi's Macbeth, starring baritone Thomas Hampson and soprano Nadja Michael (Lyric debut), conducted by Renato Palumbo and staged by Barbara Gaines, founder and artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater in her operatic debut.

Heffernan Morgan has created decor for the opera house foyer and lobbies that will reflect the imagery and lighting seen onstage, with an emphasis on the famous scenes in Birnam Wood. Guests will enjoy complimentary appetizers before the performance and sweets during the intermission, provided by Jewell Events Catering.

Guests attending the Opera Ball will board trolleys immediately following the performance to transport them to the Hilton Chicago. They will enjoy a cocktail reception, followed by the grand march of the stars, a fabulous three-course dinner, and dancing to the Stu Hirsh Orchestra.

More than 3,300 people are expected to attend the Opening Night Gala Benefit performance, and more than 600 people are expected to attend the Opera Ball. Gala Benefit performance tickets range in cost from $75 to $600. Opera Ball reservations are $475 each.

All those who purchased Gala Benefit performance tickets will receive a flash-drive customized with the Macbeth commentary by Barbara Gaines in advance of opening night. Lyric’s season poster, which features a stunning costume sketch from the new production of Macbeth by costume designer Virgil C. Johnson, will be given to all guests following the performance.


New Production

MACBETH  / Giuseppe Verdi   (in Italian with projected English translations)

9 performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for opening night at 7:00 p.m and matinees at 2:00 p.m.

Oct. 1, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 (mat), 24 (mat), 30

Premiered in 1847 and significantly revised in 1865, Macbeth combines the magnificent and irresistible vigor of early Verdi with the probing psychological depth of the composer’s later works. Shakespeare’s taut tragedy is distilled to its absolute essentials, concentrating on the Scottish play’s unforgettable central couple: the title character (baritone Thomas Hampson), Thane of Cawdor, whom the witches predict will ascend to the throne of Scotland; and his wife, Lady Macbeth (soprano Nadja Michael, debut), whose consuming desire for power pushes her husband towards murder. Other characters are the noble Macduff (tenor Leonardo Capalbo, debut), who finally triumphs over Macbeth; Banquo (bass Štefan Koćan, debut), originally Macbeth’s friend but eventually his victim; Malcolm (tenor Konstantin Stepanov, debut), the son of the murdered king who eventually is restored to the throne; and the Lady-in-Waiting (soprano Carter Scott, debut), who witnesses Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness. 

The new production is conducted by Renato Palumbo and directed by Barbara Gaines (debut), with sets designed by James Noone (debut), costumes by Virgil C. Johnson, and lighting by Robert Wierzel. Harrison McEldowney (debut) is the choreographer. Lyric Opera has previously presented Macbeth in three other seasons (1969, 1981, 1999-00).

“This is an exciting new production,” says Mason. “It’s a powerful story and the best of early Verdi. The brilliant baritone-soprano duet after Macbeth has killed Duncan is absolutely searing, and Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene is one of opera’s greatest. We have two magnificent protagonists: Thomas Hampson, who owns this role and has triumphed in it throughout the world; and the stunning Nadja Michael, a singing actress with a staggering stage presence as Lady Macbeth. As he demonstrated in conducting this season’s Ernani, Renato Palumbo is a master of the Verdi style.

Barbara Gaines is a brilliant director who has made Chicago and Shakespeare her own,” Mason declares. “She’s given incredible preparation and study to Verdi’s version of Macbeth. This will be an unforgettable season opener.”

The new Lyric Opera production of Macbeth is generously made possible by The Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa, the Abbott Fund, Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin, and Nancy W. Knowles.

The Opening Night Gala Benefit is sponsored by Aon Corporation.

The Opera Ball is cosponsored by ITW and Northern Trust.

The Opera Ball Reception is cosponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Michael P. Cole and Mr. and Mrs. Michael W. Ferro, Jr. & Merge Healthcare.

The Grand March is sponsored by Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Opening Night Benefit and Opera Ball are projects of the Lyric Opera Women’s Board; Mrs. Richard W. Durkes (Clementina), Women’s Board President (Chicago), Mrs. Todd D. Mitchell (Mimi), Opening Night Chairman (Chicago), Elizabeth O’Connor Cole, Opera Ball Chairman (Michael/Chicago).

98.7WFMT and will carry the live opening-night broadcast of Macbeth starting at 6:45 p.m. The Matthew Bucksbaum Family is the generous sponsor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Bucksbaum Family Broadcasts through the 2011-12 season, with generous matching funds provided by The Crown Family and Richard P. and Susan Kiphart.