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Posted by on Jan 18, 2012 in News | 0 comments

Lyric Opera of Chicago Announces 2012 – 2013 Season

Anthony Freud, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, announced today the repertoire, principal singers, conductors, directors, and designers for Lyric’s 2012-13 season. This was Freud’s first news conference since becoming Lyric’s general director on Oct. 1, 2011. Joining Freud for today’s announcement was Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director; and Lyric’s creative consultant, Renée Fleming (via Skype).

Lyric’s 2012-13 subscription season will offer 68 performances of nine different operas beginning Saturday, October 6, 2012, and concluding Saturday, April 6, 2013.

Although there will be nine operas offered in 2012-13, a full-season subscription still comprises eight operas.

Lyric’s 58th season fully embodies the company’s motto, Long Live Passion, said Freud. “Passion is the essence of opera. Passion and the communication of emotion is what all great art has in common. Lyric’s 58th season encompasses a range of repertory, a range of musical and theatrical styles, a range of great artists who sing, conduct, direct and design – all with great passion.”

Sir Andrew Davis noted that he will be on the podium for the first three operas of the season, Elektra, Simon Boccanegra, and Werther, and will return for Die Meistersinger in February. “It will be my first time conducting three of the four – Boccanegra, Werther, and Die Meistersinger – and I am eager to delve into all of them, as well as to return to the glorious score of Elektra,” Davis said.

Renée Fleming pointed out that the season’s ninth opera, André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, will receive “special treatment” in that the singers – in full costume and with scenic elements, lighting and props – will share the stage with the Lyric Opera Orchestra.  “The challenge of bringing the iconic character of Blanche DuBois to the opera stage was artistically transformative for me.  I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share this wonderful piece with Lyric subscribers,” Fleming said.

Midway through next season Fleming and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham will take the stage at Lyric in a Subscriber Appreciation Recital on Thursday, January 24, 2013. They will be accompanied by pianist Bradley Moore. “Susan Graham and I began our singing careers together and have shared the stage happily and often.  We hope the Chicago audience will enjoy experiencing our personal and musical camaraderie,” Fleming said.

As was previously announced, the internationally acclaimed Chinese pianist Lang Lang has chosen the Civic Opera House, home to Lyric Opera of Chicago, for his only 2012 Chicago-area concert on Saturday, May 12. The solo recital will take place a month before the pianist’s 30th birthday. A video camera positioned above the keyboard will enable concertgoers seated in the theater to view the pianist’s hands throughout the recital on a large screen above the stage.

2012-13 will be the debut season for chorus master Martin Wright. “The Lyric Opera Chorus plays a key role in six of next season’s operas, and I am greatly looking forward to collaborating with Martin, whose work I have long admired at the Netherlands Opera,” said Davis.

Freud noted that 2012-13 ensemble members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center will have roles in several of the season’s operas and will also understudy several roles.

New Production
ELEKTRA / Richard Strauss
(in German with projected English translations)
Seven performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for opening night at 6:30 p.m. and matinee at 2:00 p.m.: Oct. 6, 10, 13, 19, 22, 26 (mat), 30

Strauss’s monumental tragedy (to a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, adapted from his 1903 play based on the Sophocles original) is one of the most formidably difficult operas for orchestra as well as for vocal soloists. The heroine (soprano Christine Goerke, debut), princess of Mycenae, is consumed by the desire to avenge the death of her father, King Agamemnon, at the hands of her mother, Clytemnestra (mezzo-soprano Jill Grove) and Clytemnestra’s lover Aegisthus (tenor Roger Honeywell). She vainly attempts to enlist the aid of her frightened sister, Chrysothemis (soprano Emily Magee), and is ecstatic at the unexpected return of the brother she believed was dead, Orestes (bass-baritone Alan Held), which leads to the hair-raising dénouement.

Elektra will be conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The new production is directed by David McVicar with sets and costumes by John Macfarlane and lighting by Jennifer Tipton. Chorus master is Martin Wright (debut).

Generous sponsors for this new production are The Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, the Abbott Fund, Marlys A. Beider, and Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson.

For theater and film devotees who have never been to the opera, Elektra may be the perfect first-time experience, as it “delivers maybe the most visceral punch of the entire operatic canon,” said Freud. The libretto is faithful to Sophocles, and Strauss is among the strongest music dramatist and orchestrators in the history of music. Elektra may be the most demanding dramatic-soprano role in its length, its technical ferocity, and its combination of extraordinary dramatic outbursts and music of passionate, delicate lyricism. Freud noted that “Christine Goerke is emerging as one of the most important dramatic sopranos of her generation and has recently triumphed in her role debut as Elektra in Madrid.”

(in Italian with projected English translations)
Eight performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m.: Oct. 15, 20, 24, 28 (mat), 31 (mat), Nov. 3, 6, 9

Musically inspired and dramatically riveting, Simon Boccanegra premiered in 1857 and was significantly revised in 1881. Thus it offers audiences both the vigor of middle-period Verdi and the profound exploration of character that characterizes late Verdi works. The title character (baritone Thomas Hampson) ages 20 years between the prologue and Act One. A heroic corsair, he loves Maria, daughter of the powerful patrician Fiesco (bass Ferruccio Furlanetto). Maria dies after bearing Boccanegra a daughter, from whom he is separated. Twenty years later, as Doge of Genoa, he discovers that Amelia Grimaldi (soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, debut) is indeed his daughter. Matters are complicated by the villainous Paolo (baritone Quinn Kelsey), whose love is rejected by Amelia, who hopes to marry Gabriele Adorno (tenor Frank Lopardo). Paolo’s hatred of Boccanegra has tragic consequences in a drama played out in the politically incendiary atmosphere of 14th-century Genoa.

Simon Boccanegra will be conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The director is Elijah Moshinsky and the designers are Michael Yeargan (sets), Peter J. Hall (costumes), and Duane Schuler (lighting). Martin Wright is chorus master.

Production owned by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Lyric Opera presentation generously made possible by an Anonymous Donor, Roger and Julie Baskes, and Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin.

Simon Boccanegra is considered one of Verdi’s most sublime scores, with a story full of drama and a complicated plot that is made eloquent and engaging by Verdi’s extraordinary music,” Freud said. “Thomas Hampson is one of the great stars of our time, with an extraordinary career encompassing an exceptionally broad repertoire. His Macbeth here was unforgettable. Ferruccio Furlanetto is a towering presence, as we experienced recently with his Boris Godunov.”

New Production
WERTHER / Jules Massenet
(in French with projected English translations)
Six performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinee at 2:00 p.m.: Nov. 11 (mat), 14, 17, 20, 23, 26

One of the most overwhelmingly romantic and affecting of all French operas, Werther (premiere 1892) brings to the stage the poet immortalized in The Sorrows of Young Werther, the Goethe novel that transfixed late-18th-century Europe. Werther (tenor Matthew Polenzani) is enraptured by Charlotte (mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch, debut) when he visits her home, where she and her sister, Sophie (soprano Kiri Deonarine), care for their brothers and sisters, as well as for their widowed father, the Bailiff (baritone Philip Kraus). Werther falls in love with Charlotte, who sadly reveals that she promised her dying mother that she would marry Albert (baritone Craig Verm, debut). Charlotte begs Werther to leave the village, but suggests he return at Christmas. He does so, with tragic consequences.

Sir Andrew Davis conducts. The director is Francisco Negrin, with a design team including Louis Désiré (sets and costumes) and Duane Schuler (lighting).

Werther is a coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera, where this new production was first seen in 2010. New Lyric Opera coproduction generously made possible by Harold Hartshorne, Jr., an Anonymous Donor, Mr. and Mrs. W. James Farrell, and Sidley Austin LLP.

“The leading roles require singers of romantic intensity, vocal beauty, and great passion – and we have the ideal interpreters,” said Freud. “As he demonstrated with Hoffmann, Matthew Polenzani is a perfect singer of French music thanks to his vocal timbre, his skill with the language, and the unmatchable elegance of his sound.  The wonderful French mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch has movie-star looks and an exceptionally beautiful voice.”

New-to-Chicago Production
DON PASQUALE / Gaetano Donizetti
(in Italian with projected English translations)
Six performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m.: Nov. 25 (mat), 28, Dec. 6 (mat), 8, 10, 15

Don Pasquale, third-from-last of Donizetti’s more than 70 operas, is a gem of bel canto comedy, bringing a vibrant and rollicking score to the classic tale of a foolish old man’s eagerness to marry a young wife. The title character (bass-baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo) reveals to his friend Dr. Malatesta (baritone Corey Crider) that he’s thinking about marriage, whereupon the crafty Malatesta reveals that he has the ideal choice – his own convent-bred sister, “Sofronia.” Malatesta then persuades the beautiful young Norina (soprano Marlis Petersen) to masquerade as Sofronia. Pasquale objects to the wish of his nephew, Ernesto (tenor René Barbera) to marry the penniless Norina. Matters get more complicated, with a heartwarming happy ending.

Stephen Lord is the conductor. The production is directed by Sir Thomas Allen (Lyric Opera directing debut), and the sets and costumes are by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. The lighting designer is Christine Binder and the chorus master is Martin Wright.

Don Pasquale was originally a production of The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and is now owned by The Dallas Opera.

Lyric Opera presentation generously made possible by the NIB Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. J. Christopher Reyes, and Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow.

Ildebrando D’Arcangelo’s role debut casts against type in a role normally sung by an older comic baritone or bass, “but he has the right imagination and personality to make it his own – particularly with a director like Sir Thomas Allen and a costar like Marlis Petersen, who captivated Lyric audiences both in Die Fledermaus and Lulu,” said Freud.

HANSEL AND GRETEL / Engelbert Humperdinck
(in German with projected English translations)
Nine performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m.:
Dec. 7, 12, 14 (mat), 16 (mat), Jan. 8, 11, 14, 17 (mat), 19

Humperdinck’s opera (premiere 1893), an enchanting retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s beloved fairytale, is the quintessential holiday treat for all ages. After Hansel (mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong) and Gretel (soprano Maria Kanyova) misbehave, their irate mother (soprano Julie Makerov, debut) sends them out into the woods to gather strawberries. When their father (baritone Brian Mulligan) discovers they’ve gone, he’s desperately worried, since he has heard of a witch who inhabits the woods. The children do indeed encounter the witch (mezzo-soprano Jill Grove), whose attempt to turn them into cookies brings their own cleverness and courage to the fore.

Ward Stare (debut) is the conductor. The original production is by Richard Jones and the associate director is Eric Einhorn (debut). The sets and costumes are by John Macfarlane, the lighting by Jennifer Tipton, and the choreography by Linda Dobell.

Lyric Opera coproduction with Welsh National Opera (which was commissioned by Anthony Freud while he was WNO’s general director) originally made possible by The Vance Family Fund, with additional funding from BP America Inc. Revival generously made possible by ITW and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation.       

“I love this piece – the music is Wagnerian, and many of the visual images in this production haunt you,” said Davis. “It’s a great work for orchestra, and my protégé, Ward Stare, our former principal trombone, is conducting. Elizabeth DeShong, one of our most marvelously gifted Ryan Opera Center alumnae, and Maria Kanyova, also an illustrious Ryan Opera Center alumna, will be splendid as the titular siblings.”

LA BOHÈME / Giacomo Puccini
(in Italian with projected English translations)
Eleven performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m.: Jan. 21, 24 (mat), 27 (mat), Feb. 2, 7, Mar. 9, 12, 15 (mat), 18, 22, 28 (mat)

Puccini’s 1892 tale of love among the Bohemians of Paris is one of the most universally loved operas in the repertoire. On Christmas night in mid-19th-century Paris, the lonely seamstress Mimì (soprano Ana María Martínez/Jan. 21-Feb. 7 and Anna Netrebko/March dates) and the poet Rodolfo (tenors Dimitri Pittas, debut/Jan. 21-Feb. 7 and Joseph Calleja/March dates) fall in love. Their circle of friends in the Latin Quarter includes the coquettish Musetta (soprano Elizabeth Futral), her former flame, the painter Marcello (baritone Lucas Meachem), the philosopher Colline (bass Andrea Silvestrelli), and the musician Schaunard (baritone Joseph Lim). Adding comic relief to the story are the landlord Benoit and Musetta’s “protector,” the roué Alcindoro (both portrayed by bass-baritone Dale Travis).

The production is conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. The director is Louisa Muller (debut). The designers are Michael Yeargan (sets), Walter Mahoney (debut/costumes), and Duane Schuler (lighting). The chorus master is Martin Wright.

The production is owned by the San Francisco Opera Association. Lyric Opera presentation generously made possible by the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation, Exelon, Margot and Josef Lakonishok, and the Mazza Foundation.

This new-to-Chicago production of La bohème, features two outstanding casts. Ana María Martínez is one of the quintessential interpreters of Mimì, with a sublimely beautiful voice and an incredibly sensitive, moving stage presence,” said Freud. “Anna Netrebko is one of the most charismatic and thrilling sopranos of our time, making a long-awaited Lyric debut. Each will bring very different qualities to the role, and each will be glorious. In Dimitri Pittas and Joseph Calleja we have two of the most exciting tenors of the younger generation, both with extraordinary and well-deserved international careers.”

(in German with projected English translations)
Seven performances beginning at 5:30 p.m., except for matinees at 1:00 p.m.:
Feb. 8, 12, 16, 20, 23, 27 (mat), Mar. 3 (mat)

Wagner’s only comedy and a work communicating extraordinary warmth, wisdom, and joy, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (premiere 1868) presents a massive challenge to any opera company’s resources. The chorus is immensely important in depicting the community of Nuremberg, where the most respected citizen is the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs (bass-baritone James Morris). Sachs, the goldsmith Pogner (bass Dimitry Ivashchenko, debut), the town clerk Beckmesser (baritone Bo Skovhus), and the baker Kothner (bass-baritone Darren Jeffery, debut) are all members of the mastersingers’ guild. Pogner announces to the guild that he is sponsoring a song contest, the winner of which will be offered the hand of his daughter Eva (soprano Amanda Majeski). Eva falls instantly in love with the knight Walther von Stolzing (tenor Johan Botha), but Walther creates a furor among the masters with the wildly unconventional audition he presents in order to be allowed to compete in the contest. The story sweeps to a heartwarming ending, with other delightful characters figuring prominently along the way, including Eva’s lively companion, Magdalene (mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton), and her suitor, Sachs’s apprentice David (tenor David Portillo).

Sir Andrew Davis is the conductor. David McVicar’s production is staged by Marie Lambert (debut), with sets and costumes designed by Vicki Mortimer (debut), lighting designed by Paule Constable, and movement direction by Andrew George. The chorus master is Martin Wright.
This is a coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera Association, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, where it was first seen in 2011. New Lyric coproduction generously made possible by the Kenneth L. Harder Trust, Mr. & Mrs. Dietrich M. Gross, Whitney and Ada Addington, Irma Parker, and the Estate of Howard A. Stotler.

James Morris is a great Hans Sachs; it’s one of his signature roles, in which Lyric audiences will hear him for the first time,” said Freud. “And Johan Botha, the great Wagner tenor of our time, is singing Walther von Stolzing, whose ‘Prize Song’ is perhaps the most sumptuously beautiful music that Wagner ever created.”

RIGOLETTO / Giuseppe Verdi
in Italian with projected English translations)
Ten performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m.:
Feb. 25, Mar. 1 (mat), 4, 7, 10 (mat), 14 (mat), 20, 23, 27 (mat), 30

Rigoletto, Verdi’s masterpiece of 1851, presents a magnificent, deeply moving characterization of a hunchbacked, sharp-tongued court jester consumed by bitterness and revenge. Rigoletto (baritones Andrzej Dobber, debut, Feb. 25-March 10 and Željko Luèiæ, debut, March 14-30) is the father of Gilda (soprano Albina Shagimuratova, debut), who is seduced and abandoned by the licentious Duke of Mantua (tenor Giuseppe Filianoti). The jester hires an assassin, Sparafucile (bass Andrea Silvestrelli), who lures the Duke to an inn where he will encounter the assassin’s seductive sister, Maddalena (mezzo-soprano Nicole Piccolomini, debut). When Gilda discovers what her father is planning, her tragic fate is sealed.

The conductor is Evan Rogister (debut). For this revival Lyric is commissioning a new staging by a director to be announced at a later date. The set designs are by Robert Innes Hopkins and costume designs are by Jane Greenwood, with lighting designed by Duane Schuler. The chorus master is Martin Wright.

Lyric Opera 2005-06 production originally made possible by the NIB Foundation and Jim and Vicki Mills/Jon and Lois Mills. This newly staged production generously made possibly by Jim and Kay Mabie and Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel.

This beloved and brilliant score marks a period in which Verdi’s youthful vigor developed into a musical and theatrical maturity that became the reference point for Italian opera. Rigoletto is a deeply Shakespearean opera in its combination of tragedy and humor. “In Andrzej Dobber and Željko Luèiæ we have two superb Verdi baritones who are both immensely distinguished interpreters of Rigoletto, in their different ways bringing unique dramatic and vocal qualities to this tragic role,” said Freud. “In Albina Shagimuratova we have a thrilling, emerging young dramatic coloratura soprano.”

Lyric Opera Premiere / Special Presentation (staged concert performance)
(in English with projected English texts)
Four performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. and matinee at 2:00 p.m.:
Mar. 26, 29, Apr. 3, 6 (mat)

Tennessee Williams’s unnerving, ultimately tragic drama (premiered on Broadway in 1947) is one of the most memorable works in the American theater.  American composer André Previn used it – in an adaptation by Philip Littell – as the basis for his first opera, written for soprano Renée Fleming and premiered at San Francisco Opera in September 1998. The work has been performed widely in America, and Fleming was heard in this version at London’s Barbican Centre in 2003. Reprising her portrayal at Lyric, she plays Blanche DuBois, who arrives at the New Orleans home of her sister, Stella Kowalski (soprano Susanna Phillips).  Blanche is mysterious about the reasons for leaving her job as an English teacher in Laurel, Mississippi. She spends the summer imposing on the hospitality of Stella and her husband Stanley (baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, debut), while also romancing Stanley’s shy friend Harold “Mitch” Mitchell (tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, who created this role in the world premiere). When Stanley discovers the real reason that Blanche left Laurel, the stage is set for a catastrophic confrontation between him and his deluded, emotionally fragile sister-in-law.
A Streetcar Named Desire will be conducted by Evan Rogister. The director is Brad Dalton. The costume designer and lighting designer will be announced at a later date.

New Lyric Opera production generously made possible by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For this special presentation of Streetcar we’re bringing the orchestra onstage,” said Freud. “The drama of Streetcar, fully costumed, will take place in and around the orchestra, which is one of the protagonists. We have four truly exceptional singing actors, starting of course with Renée Fleming as Blanche. Susanna Phillips is one of the most exciting young lyric sopranos to come out of the Ryan Opera Center. She is a native southerner, and she will be perfect as Stella. Teddy Tahu Rhodes has made the role of Stanley very much his own around the world. He has exactly the right physical charisma and presence as well as vocal quality. And Anthony Dean Griffey is the definitive interpreter of Mitch – he’s a great singing actor who has a heartbreakingly sympathetic stage personality. “


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