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February 2014
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Opera and the Chicago-New York Connection

Renee Fleming, photo by Andrew Eccles

Renee Fleming, photo by Andrew Eccles

Renée Fleming as Rusalka, Saturday, 12:00 PM

Last fall, Renée Fleming sat down with New Releases host Lisa Flynn to talk about her latest CD.

Renée Fleming was already cast as the Metropolitan Opera’s Rusalka when she sat before a roomful of Chicago press to unveil Ana María Martínez in the same role in Lyric Opera’s 2014 production (opening February 22). Such is the business of opera. Ms. Fleming has been on Lyric Opera of Chicago’s letterhead, as creative consultant, since 2010. It is exactly that citizen of the world positioning that makes Ms. Fleming so valuable to Lyric (not to mention her voice and opera business acumen). The opera world is a small world, but an international one; relationships and keeping one’s ears tuned to everything music are essential. As Riccardo Muti said last week, at the Chicago Symphony’s season announcement, the successor to outgoing CSO president Deborah Rutter needs to have “an international mind.”

Indeed, the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts feed right back into Chicago’s opera life. One WFMT listener commented how much she enjoyed Amanda Echalaz’s Butterfly in last week’s Met broadcast. Echalaz sang Butterfly in Chicago last fall, as part of a split cast. The listener had been thrilled by Lyric’s other Butterfly, Patricia Racette—now she’s glad to have heard both.

Ildar Abdrazakov, photo by Julia Borodina

Ildar Abdrazakov, photo by Julia Borodina

Another singer headlining at the Met, who’s also got some Chicago roots, is Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov. Riccardo Muti has used Mr. Abdrazakov a number of times with the Chicago Symphony, including in their worldwide webcast of the Verdi Requiem last fall. Mr. Abdrazakov is in his role debut as Prince Igor at the Met, a production scheduled to be broadcast and HD cinemacast on March 1.

The New Releases

A WFMT program which helps keeps opera-lovers in the loop on their favorite singers is The New Releases. Ildar Abdrazakov has a new CD of Russian arias. Interestingly, one would think a Russian bass would have been all over roles like Prince Igor, but Mr. Abdrazakov confesses he didn’t feel he had the voice for it until more recently. It’s only at the age of 37 that he’s acquired the deeper, darker instrument for the Russian repertoire. Hear selections from Ildar Abdrazakov recording on The New Releases, this Sunday at 10:00 AM.

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