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January 2014
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Lyric Opera Unveils 60th Anniversary Season

Lyric's Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis

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Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2014-2015 Season

On a frigid Monday morning, Lyric Opera of Chicago announced its 2014-2015 season, the company’s diamond jubilee. Sir Andrew Davis and Lyric general director Anthony Freud held court for a roomful of press, introducing next year’s schedule.

Lyric will honor its founders by opening the season with a new production of the show that launched the company, Mozart’s Don Giovanni. They will draw upon the talents of Goodman Theatre director Robert Falls who Sir Andrew praised for bringing “a fresh intellect…without distorting the (substance of the) opera.”

Ana María Martínez returns to sing Donna Elvira. Sir Andrew laughed, “I think she has that obsessive quality (in that character); she’s basically so exasperating.”

This season's Violetta, Marina Rebeka, returns as Donna Anna

This season’s Violetta, Marina Rebeka, returns as Donna Anna

Marina Rebeka is a marvelous singer and actor, and is “drop dead gorgeous, which doesn’t hurt.”

—Sir Andrew Davis

Don Giovanni

Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni

Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni, photo by Ken Howard (The Met)

Cast: Mariusz Kwiecien, Marina Rebeka, Ana María Martínez, Kyle Ketelsen, Andriana Chuchman, Antonio Poli, Michael Sumuel, Andrea Silvestrelli

Of Mariusz Kwiecien Sir Andrew said he is the “Great Don Giovanni of his time. I love his voice, it’s the perfect weight…”
Sir Andrew Davis/conductor, Robert Falls/director

Walt Spangler/sets, Ana Kuzmanic/costumes, Duane Schuler/lightingChorus Master Michael Black


Renee Fleming in Capriccio

Renee Fleming in “Capriccio,” photo by Ken Howard (The Met)

Richard Strauss’s last opera Capriccio had its premiere in 1942. Seventy years later Lyric’s production brings together Renée Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter who’ve sung Capriccio together before. Sir Andrew said of the opera and Renée Fleming, “It has plenty of opportunities to hear that glorious sound pouring out of her.”

The production belongs to the Metropolitan Opera, and is a revival of Lyric’s 1994-95 season. Capriccio was Sir Andrew Davis’s first foray into opera as conductor; a production at Glynbourne in 1973.

Of working with Sir Andrew, Ms. Fleming praised him for his music-making, “at a tremendous level…yet he’s relaxed…we have a lot of fun, which shows onstage.”


Cast: Renée Fleming, Anne Sofie von Otter, Bo Skovhus, William Burden, Audun Iversen, Peter Rose

Sir Andrew Davis/conductor, John Cox/original director

Peter McClintock/revival director, Mauro Pagano/sets, Robert Perdziola/costumes & interior decor, Duane Schuler/lighting, Val Caniparoli/choreography


Quinn Kelsey is an alumnus of Lyric's training program (now call the Ryan Opera Center) and is becoming LOC's go-to baritone for Verdi.

Quinn Kelsey, photo by Dan Rest

It could be Lyric will have to reinforce the back wall for Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore with a powerhouse cast of Amber Wagner, Stephanie Blythe, and Quinn Kelsey. All three have huge voices. Two of the three come from the Ryan Opera Center. Sir Andrew Davis noted that Amber Wagner is the only singer to have been in the program for four years, saying he didn’t want to let her out before the voice was fully matured—and there must have been some wisdom to that; she’s gone on to a brilliant, international career. Quinn Kelsey, also an alumnus of Lyric’s training program (now call the Ryan Opera Center), is becoming LOC’s go-to baritone for Verdi. He sang in last season’s Simon Boccanegra, and was Germont in this season’s La traviata.

Il trovatore

Cast: Yonghoon Lee, Amber Wagner, Stephanie Blythe, Quinn Kelsey, Andrea Silvestrelli

Asher Fisch/conductor, Sir David McVicar/original director

Revival director and choreographer/Leah Hausman, Charles Edwards/sets, Brigitte Reiffenstuel/costumes, Jennifer Tipton/lighting

Chorus Master Michael Black



Eric Owens as Porgy

Eric Owens as Porgy

There were many harsh opinions of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at its premiere: is it an opera? Is it a musical? Does the fusion of opera, jazz and blues make musical sense?

Gershwin had strong ties to the African American community, which wasn’t exactly easy in the days of Jim Crow. Still, he had his African American critics who questioned Porgy’s authenticity: Gershwin was a white guy from Brooklyn, moreover a Jewish, white guy from Brooklyn. What business did he have trying to tell the story of southern, African American life?

Gershwin attempted to force the issue of desegregation, stipulating his singers be African American. It turned out to be a tall order, however, because the vocal writing for Porgy required singers with a solid operatic background (not an easy thing for a black singer to acquire in 1936). Many recognized the brilliant writing in Porgy, though it took decades for America to come around and figure out what to do with it. It was a 1976 revival in Houston that finally put Porgy and Bess on the map.

“I think it’s the greatest opera of the twentieth century.”

—Sir Andrew Davis

Porgy and Bess

Cast: Eric Owens, Adina Aaron, Jermaine Smith, Eric Greene, Angel Blue, Karen Slack, Norman Garrett, Gwendolyn Brown

Ward Stare/conductor, Francesca Zambello/director

Peter J. Davison/sets, Paul Tazewell/costumes, Mark McCullough/lighting, Denni Sayers/choreography

Chorus Master Michael Black

Sondra Radvanovsky as Anna Bolena; c.Cade Martin

Sondra Radvanovsky as Anna Bolena, photo by Cade Martin

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky makes a glorious career in the opera houses of the world. At Monday’s press conference, Sir Andrew Davis counted her in a progression of “Callas to Sutherland to Sondra” in owning the title role of Anna Bolena. For all the globe trotting, it’s a fun fact for Chicagoans that Ms. Radvanovsky is a native of Berwyn, Illinois.

Donizetti’s score makes red meat out of bel canto as Bolena and rival Jane Seymour struggle with forces beyond their control.

Sir Andrew praises conductor Patrick Summers for his exceptional musicianship in the bel canto repertoire.

Anna Bolena – New Production

Sondra Radvanovsky, Jamie Barton, Bryan Hymel, John Relyea, Kelley O’Connor

Patrick Summers/conductor, Kevin Newbury/director

Neil Patel/sets, Jessica Jahn/costumes, D. M. Wood/lighting

Coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Minnesota Opera

Chorus Master Michael Black


Tatiana Serjan

Tatiana Serjan

Fans of Tatiana Serjan’s acclaimed performances as Lady Macbeth at Symphony Center will eagerly await her Lyric Opera debut in the title role of Tosca. It is a split cast. Hui He, who sang Aida at Lyric returns, also as Tosca. This will be a new-to-Chicago production of Puccini’s score which drips in the blood and gore of the Napoleonic wars.


Tatiana Serjan/Hui He, Misha Didyk/Jorge de Leon, Evgeny Nikitin/Mark Delavan

Dmitri Jurowski/conductor, John Caird/director

Bunny Christie/sets and costumes, Duane Schuler/lighting

Coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera

Chorus Master Michael Black



12. Johan Botha_Tannhauser_c.Dan Rest

Johan Botha pictured in “Otello,” photo by Dan Rest

This production of Wagner’s Tannhäuser will be new to Chicago, coming from Covent Garden. Sir Andrew Davis grinned, saying this will be his “dream cast.” Amber Wagner returns after singing Trovatore earlier in the season. She’ll be joined by a tenor who’s a favorite at Lyric Opera, the powerful South African Johan Botha, who opened the 2013-14 season at Lyric in the title role of Otello.


Johan Botha, Amber Wagner, Michaela Schuster, Gerald Finley, John Relyea

Sir Andrew Davis/conductor, Tim Albery /director

Michael Levine/sets, Jon Morrell/costumes, David Finn/lighting,

Jasmin Vardimon/choreography

Chorus Master Michael Black



Brandon Jovanovich in "The Passenger," photo by Terrence McCarthy (SFO)

Brandon Jovanovich in “The Passenger,” photo by Terrence McCarthy (SFO)

The Passenger may prove to be the most unforgettable opera of the 2014-15 season. It’s a resurrection of a score by a friend and contemporary of Dmitri Shostakovich: Mieczysław Weinberg. Shostakovich was on record calling the opera “brilliant.” The work had been suppressed by the Soviets for political reasons, owing to its depiction of the Holocaust from both sides of the barbed wire. This will be the Lyric Opera debut of The Passenger.

The Passenger

Amanda Majeski, Daveda Karanas, Brandon Jovanovich, Joshua Hopkins, Kelly Kaduce, Judith Forst

Sir Andrew Davis/conductor, David Pountney/director

Johan Engels/sets, Marie-Jeanne Lecca/costumes, Fabrice Kebour/lighting

Chorus Master Michael Black




Denyce Graves

Denyce Graves

American Musical Theater Initiative

This is an ongoing project for Lyric Opera of Chicago, celebrating the world of musical theater and the many ways in which the two art forms intertwine. Sir Andrew Davis calls Carousel the most operatic of the Rodgers and Hammerstien shows. Much of the production is yet to be announced, but they have confirmed at least one opera veteran, mezzo soprano Denyce Graves who sang the role of Carmen at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Carousel – New Production/Lyric Opera Premiere

Denyce Graves

Rob Fisher/conductor, Rob Ashford/director


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