Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric announces major opera singers for The Sound of Music

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lyric Opera of Chicago
 announces major opera singers set for
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s
The Sound of Music 
Grammy Award Winner Christine Brewer as Mother Abbess
Elizabeth Futral as Baroness Elsa Schraeder 

Key members of the creative team include: 

Rob Fisher, Conductor ♦ Marc Bruni, Director
Michael Yeargan, Set Designer ♦ Alejo Vietti, Costume Designer
Denis Jones, Choreographer ♦ Michael Black, Chorus Master

Additional casting and creative team to be announced
at a later date for this new production and company premiere
17 performances Friday, April 25–Sunday, May 11, 2014 

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s general director Anthony Freud announced today that two internationally acclaimed opera singers, American sopranos Christine Brewer and Elizabeth Futral, have been cast for the new production and company premiere of The Sound of Music, to be presented next spring.

“We are excited to confirm two exceptional cast members: Christine Brewer as Mother Abbess, and Elizabeth Futral as Baroness Elsa Schraeder,” said Freud. “Christine is a Grammy Award winner who wowed Lyric audiences in Die Frau ohne Schatten and is hailed internationally for her glorious voice. It will be wonderful to hear her sing the iconic ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ in this wonderful score. Elizabeth is a longtime Lyric favorite who most recently charmed us as Musetta in La Bohème and has also entranced audiences as the leading ladies of La traviata, The Merry Widow, The Pirates of Penzance, and Candide at Lyric.”

Freud also announced key members of the creative team for The Sound of Music: “We are delighted to have The Sound of Music make its Lyric Opera debut under the baton of Broadway’s Emmy-nominated conductor Rob Fisher in a new production directed by the brilliant Marc Bruni – both of whom have scored triumphs with this work and have extensive Broadway and music-theater experience,” Freud said (see bios below). “Set designer Michael Yeargan has won Tony Awards for two Broadway productions and has created numerous acclaimed opera productions internationally. Costume designer Alejo Vietti, whose designs will be seen on Broadway next season, has done extraordinary work with major theater and opera companies all over America. Choreographer Denis Jones has impressive credentials in Broadway and regional productions.

“This beloved musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II – their final collaboration – is one of the greatest American musical stage works, and is also known the world over for its film adaptation” Freud noted.  He added that 37 members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra will perform with a 25-member ensemble (including 12 members of the Lyric Opera Chorus). Lyric chorus master Michael Black will prepare the chorus for this company premiere, which marks the second work in Lyric’s American Musical Theater Initiative.

The remaining cast and creative team members will be announced at a later date.

The new production of The Sound of Music, will have 17 performances (including eight matinees) April 24-May 11 at the Civic Opera House, with tickets starting at $29. Lyric subscribers receive a 10% discount through November 1.

Illinois native CHRISTINE BREWER (Mother Abbess) made a sensational Lyric debut as the Dyer’s Wife/Die Frau ohne Schatten (2007-08). Among her other triumphs  in Strauss have been Ariadne (seven major houses, including the Metropolitan Opera and Paris’s Châtelet), Chrysothemis/Elektra (Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra), the title role/Die ägypstische Helena (Santa Fe), and the “Four Last Songs” (leading orchestras internationally, also on CD).  Brewer’s Isolde has been heard with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (CD) and at the Edinburgh Festival, San Francisco Opera, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She has recently been featured as Lady Billows/Britten’s Albert Herring in Santa Fe and Los Angeles, and she starred in January 2013 at The Minnesota Opera as Sister Aloysius/Douglas Cuomo’s Doubt (world premiere). Brewer is heard annually in the world’s most prestigious concert and recital venues, including in recent seasons Carnegie Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Zankel Hall, and Berkeley’s Cal Performances series. The soprano has recorded numerous solo discs, major concert works, and operas ranging from Mozart’s Don Giovanni to Barber’s Vanessa.

ELIZABETH FUTRAL (Baroness Elsa Schraeder) enjoys a close association with Lyric Opera, where she began her career in the company’s young-artist program (now known as the Ryan Opera Center). Her 19 roles with the company include most recently Musetta/La bohème (2012-13), the title role/The Merry Widow (2009-10) and Violetta/La traviata (2007-08). Her extraordinary stylistic range encompasses roles as diverse as Marian/The Music Man (Glimmerglass Festival) and the exceptionally demanding title role/Kaija Saariaho’s Emilie (Lincoln Center Festival, U.S. premiere at Spoleto USA). Among other recent appearances have been Les contes d’Hoffmann (Miami), Pagliacci (Auckland), Le nozze di Figaro (Vienna), La traviata (Berlin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore), Così fan tutte (Washington), and a Saariaho concert with the Avanti Chamber Group (Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall). The soprano’s extensive discography encompasses an aria recital, operetta favorites, Ricky Ian Gordon’s song cycle Orpheus and Eurydice (created for Futral), and operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Pacini, Meyerbeer, Ravel, Floyd, and Glass. Futral has also recorded three major roles that she created: Princess Yueyang/The First Emperor (Metropolitan Opera, DVD), Laura/Brief Encounter (Houston, CD), and Stella/A Streetcar Named Desire (San Francisco, CD and DVD).

ROB FISHER (Conductor - Lyric debut) led the triumphant gala performance of The Sound of Music at Carnegie Hall in April 2012 and most recently, conducted the New York Philharmonic’s “Live from Lincoln Center” production of Carousel, for which he recently received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Music Direction. The founding music director and conductor of New York’s critically hailed City Center Encores! series of musical-theater performances (1994-2005), Fisher has also served as producer/music director for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. He led the Central Park production of Hair and was music supervisor for its 2008 revival and 2009 move to Broadway. Last season, Fisher served as music supervisor of the Tony-winning Broadway revival of Anything Goes. He has been a guest of major orchestras nationwide, including recurring engagements with the orchestras in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Other highlights include My Fair Lady with the New York Philharmonic and debuts with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the major orchestras of Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington. For four seasons, Fisher was music director for Garrison Keillor's weekly national radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. His televised performances include Sweeney Todd (San Francisco Symphony) and concerts at Carnegie Hall and the White House. 

MARC BRUNI (Director – Lyric debut) has directed The Sound of Music – for which he won the Kevin Kline Award for Direction – and five other major musicals for the Muny in St. Louis. Bruni has been associate director for many of the most successful Broadway productions of recent seasons, including Nice Work If You Can Get It, Anything Goes, The Pajama Game, La Cage aux Folles, Wonderful Town, and Finian’s Rainbow, among many others. He has also been associate director for South Pacific at Carnegie Hall (seen on PBS); for many national and international tours of Broadway productions; and five musicals with the City Center Encores! series, for which he has directed hugely successful revivals of Fanny and Pipe Dream. Among his other New York productions have been The Explorers Club (Manhattan Theater Club), Old Jews Telling Jokes (Westside Tehatre), and Ordinary Days (Roundabout Underground). He has directed In The Mood (Berkshire Theatre Festival) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Paper Mill Playhouse and Philadelphia Theatre Company).

MICHAEL YEARGAN (Set Designer) is one of America’s foremost designers for both theater and opera. His work has been seen at Lyric Opera in six productions: set and costume designs for Antony and Cleopatra (1991-92) and Susannah (1993-94), and set designs for Simon Boccanegra (1995-96, 2012-13), Don Carlo (1996-97), Nabucco (1997-98), and La bohème (2012-13). He has designed 14 productions over the past two decades at San Francisco Opera, including Wagner’s Ring cycle. His vast operatic experience encompasses much-acclaimed work at the Metropolitan Opera (including new productions of L’elisir d’amore, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Les contes d’Hoffmann, and Le Comte Ory), The Dallas Opera, and numerous companies abroad, including Welsh National Opera, the Stadttheater of St. Gallen (Switzerland), and Opera Australia. Among Yeargan’s operatic world premieres are The Great Gatsby (Met) and both A Streetcar Named Desire and Dead Man Walking (San Francisco). Yeargan holds Tony Awards for South Pacific (2008) and A Light in the Piazza (2005). He has designed frequently for Hartford Stage Company, and the Long Wharf Theatre. He is resident set designer at Yale Repertory and Professor of Stage Design at Yale School of Drama.

ALEJO VIETTI (Costume Designer – Lyric debut), a native of Argentina, is designing Beautiful: The Carole King Musical for Broadway, opening in fall 2013. Closely associated with Hartford Stage Company, Houston’s Alley Theatre, and San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, Vietti has also designed for many other prominent theater companies, including St. Louis Repertory, Northern Virginia’s Signature Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, and Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Operatic work includes Così fan tutte (Minnesota Opera), Il turco in Italia (Wolf Trap Opera), and Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon (Opera Santa Barbara world premiere, later seen at New York City Opera). Among Vietti’s many productions for Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House are Carousel, Annie Get Your Gun, Big River, 1776, and Meet John Doe. His latest project for Radio City Music Hall’s world-famous Rockettes is their new spring spectacular, opening in 2014. Vietti’s work was honored in 2010 with Theatre Development Fund’s prestigious TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award.

DENIS JONES (Choreographer – Lyric debut) has been associated with many of the most prominent theatrical venues in America. Among his most important credits are Spamalot and Chicago (The Muny in St Louis), Johnny Baseball, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and She Loves Me (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Elf (Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater),Thoroughly Modern Millie and Damn Yankees (New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse),  POP! (Yale Repertory Tehater), Liberty Smith (Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.), Pirates (Hunintington Theatre in Boston), Some Loves (San Diego’s Old Globe Theater), Post Office (Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles), and Nerds (North Carolina Theatre in Raleigh). New York venues include Joe’s Pub (Popesicle) and Triad Theater (Disaster!). He has also choreographed for the Kennedy Center Honors, Oprah’s “Surprise Spectacular”, “Rosie Live,” and the film “Sex and the City 2.” Among his upcoming proujects are  Honeymoon in Vegas (Paper Mill Playhouse), and Piece of My Heart: The Story of Bert Berns (Off-Broadway). 

New Lyric Opera production of The Sound of Music generously made possible by Northern Trust, Mrs. Herbert A. Vance and Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance, and Jim and Vicki Mills/Jon and Lois Mills.