Lyric Opera of Chicago

Mozart's LA CLEMENZA DI TITO Opens March 5

For immediate release:
Wednesday, March 5, 2014



It's a tangled love and power triangle like no other. 
Should the emperor let the co-conspirators go? 
Execute them for what they did? Or imprison them?

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents a star-studded 
new-to-Chicago production 
of Mozart's passionate, political opera set in ancient Rome
La Clemenza di Tito 
Opens Wednesday, March 5 
7 performances March 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23 
Matthew Polenzani, Joyce DiDonato, Amanda Majeski, 
Cecelia Hall, Emily Birsan, Christian Van Horn 
Sir Andrew Davis/conductor, Sir David McVicar/original production/set designer 
Marie Lambert/revival director 
Jenny Tiramani/costume designer, Jennifer Tipton/lighting designer 
David Greeves/movement director

To marry or murder in order to reclaim the throne and family honor? That is the incendiary question propelling Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito at Lyric Opera of Chicago. This tale of politics, power, and high passion opens Wednesday, March 5 with seven performances through Sunday, March 23. Sir Andrew Davis conducts  the new-to-Chicago production by famed director Sir David McVicar starring the internationally acclaimed Matthew Polenzani, Joyce DiDonato, and Amanda Majeski.

The composer's penultimate opera, La Clemenza di Tito's conflicted characters wrestle with emotional, moral, and psychological dilemmas conveyed by daunting coloratura singing. The Roman Emperor Tito is portrayed by tenor Matthew Polenzani, a north-shore native. Vitellia (soprano Amanda Majeski, a Gurnee native) is the power-obsessed daughter of the recently deposed emperor. She is determined to have Tito as her husband so she can achieve the political power that she feels is her familial right. 

When Tito chooses another as his empress, Vitellia turns to Tito's best friend Sesto (mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in a male role). Sesto has long been obsessed with Vitellia, who convinces the tortured and conflicted Sesto to assassinate Tito. When the assassination fails and the betrayal is revealed, Tito magnaminously grants Vitellia and Sesto clemency. The production also stars Cecelia Hall as Annio, also a trouser role, Emily Birsan as Servilia, and Christian Van Horn as Publio.

Polenzani, Majeski, Hall, and Van Horn are former members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. Birsan is a current member. Earlier this week DiDonato was inducted as an honorary alumna of the acclaimed artist-training program following the Clemenza dress rehearsal.

Lyric music director Sir Andrew Davis conducts the production, which was conceived and designed by Sir David McVicar (whose new production of Rusalka  opened at Lyric Feb. 22). His associate Marie Lambert directs La Clemenza di Tito at Lyric. Costumes are by Jenny Tiramani (debut). The lighting designer is Jennifer Tipton, the chorus master is Michael Black, and the movement director is David Greeves (debut), who also portrays the character Lentulo (a mute role).

"The biggest strength, aside from the glorious music, is its pure humanity," says DiDonato. "Sesto is blinded by love, Vitellia is blinded by power. Tito is the one who stands up against his pain and betrayal, to do what is right."

"Instead of being Baroque relics, these characters are completely convincing modern people," says McVicar. "You can't help but think about what operas Mozart could have gone on to write if he had lived, because this piece is a model."

Performance dates are March 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 20, all at 7:30 pm, with a matinee at 2 pm on Sunday, March 23.  For tickets and information call (312) 827-5600 or go to

The Lyric Opera presentation of La Clemenza di Tito is generously made possible by Julie and Roger Baskes, The Negaunee Foundation, and Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow.

Lyric's Discovery Series session on Clemenza takes place on Thursday, March 6 at 6 pm, in the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive. Panelists include: Matthew Polenzani, Joyce DiDonato, and Sir Andrew Davis, with Lyric's dramaturg Roger Pines moderating. Call 312-827-5600 for tickets.  For information on this and other Discovery Series offerings go to

Ticketholders to these and other performances at Lyric Opera this winter and spring have the opportunity to view an all-new exhibition by noted visual artist and costume designer Cait O'Connor in the lower-level Opera Club of the Civic Opera House. This installation, which opened Jan. 31, features costumes, wigs, and accessories from Lyric's recent new production of La Traviata  designed by O'Connor. Also on display are six new works inspired by her experience with the production, specifically created for this special gallery show. The exhibition continues through May.