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January 2014
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Lyric Opera Tips Its Hand

Lyric Opera music director Sir Andrew Davis; photo by Dario Acosta

Lyric Opera music director Sir Andrew Davis; photo by Dario Acosta

Wagner’s Ring cycle, and a politically charged opera suppressed by the Soviets

Season roll-outs are upon us when the majors on Chicago’s music scene present their plans for their 2014-2015 seasons. Today Sir Andrew Davis, the extraordinary American soprano Christine Goerke, Eric Owens, who was Skyping from what appeared to be his man cave—one could see a Grammy Award among the books and papers on the piano—and British director David Pountney gathered to discuss a new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle for 2016-2017 and beyond (one per year, starting with Das Rheingold).

Sir Andrew could barely contain his excitement about casting Christine Goerke as Brunhilde; she was a Lyric triumph in last season’s Elektra. Bass-Baritone Eric Owens will sing his first Wotan in the new production; he has had a successful run as Alberich in the Met’s Ring. Owens acknowledged today that he had been offered Wotan before, but hadn’t accepted because it “wasn’t the right situation.” This time, he said, “It was right.”

WFMT’s critic at large Andrew Patner will sit down with Suzanne Nance Friday afternoon in the five o’clock hour to discuss the announcement on WFMT radio.

By serendipity, the Ring’s creative team will also assemble to launch a production of Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Passenger, an all-but-forgotten opera about Holocaust survivors from both sides of the fence. In a poignant moment during the press conference, Lyric Opera General Director Anthony Freud acknowledged being the son of an Auschwitz survivor, and having a strong sensitivity to any fiction about the Holocaust. The Passenger comes from a composer who escaped the camps, but lived with the horrors and persecution. Weinberg’s friend, Dmitri Shostakovich, called The Passenger “a perfect masterpiece.” The work is only just seeing the light of day, having been banned by the Soviet Union where Weinberg lived out his life. Lyric’s production will be the Midwestern premiere.

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