Lyric Opera of Chicago

New-to-Chicago production of LA CLEMENZA DI TITO at Lyric March 5-23

For immediate release:
Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Lyric Opera of Chicago presents a new-to-Chicago production 
of Mozart's opera of passion and power in ancient Rome 
La Clemenza di Tito 
Opens Wednesday, March 5 
7 performances through March 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
Jenny Tiramani/costume designer, Jennifer Tipton/lighting designer

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis in a new-to-Chicago production by famed director Sir David McVicar. It opens on Wednesday, March 5 with seven performances through Sunday, March 23. 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.   

The composer's penultimate opera, La Clemenza di Tito tosses conflicted characters into a psychological morass involving the Roman Emperor Tito, sung by tenor and North Shore native Matthew Polenzani. Vitellia (soprano and Gurnee native Amanda Majeski) 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 Sesto to assassinate Tito. When the assassination fails and the betrayal is revealed, Tito, in a magnanimous gesture of forgiveness, grants Vitellia and Sesto clemency. The production also stars Cecelia Hall as Annio, Emily Birsan as Servilia, and Christian Van Horn as Publio.

Polenzani, Majeski, Hall, and Van Horn are former members of ThePatrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. Birsan is a current member.

Lyric music director Sir Andrew Davis conducts the production, which was conceived and designed by Sir David McVicar (whose new production of Rusalka opens at Lyric Feb. 22). His associate Marie Lambert will direct 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 choreographer is David Greeves (debut), who also portrays the character Lentulo.

"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."

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.