Anthony Freud, general director, president & CEO of Lyric Opera of Chicago, announced additional programs to add to the variety of offerings in its reimagined 2020/21 Season. These include a concert honoring Sir Andrew Davis, as his 21-year tenure as Lyric’s music director comes to an end; a new approach to the annual Rising Stars in Concert by The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble; a celebration of Broadway with an exciting musical theater concert; and a new initiative to offer on-demand online audio streaming of select Lyric archival operatic productions. The company also announced performance details for the limited-availability Chicago premiere of Twilight: Gods, conceived and directed by Yuval Sharon with narration and text by Chicago interdisciplinary artist avery r. young.
"This year has been extremely challenging, both for Lyric and for arts institutions around the world, but we are continuing to embrace the opportunity to create art designed for virtual platforms," says Freud. "We are excited about our upcoming programs this season and to continue to push boundaries to make Lyric and the operatic artform even more appealing and accessible in seasons to come."
Lyric’s new spring offerings and experiences include:
- Lyric Opera Streaming On Demand — Lyric will begin releasing complete live opera performances from past Lyric seasons on lyricopera.org and through a variety of music streaming platforms in the coming months, for listeners around the world to enjoy. The schedule of planned releases includes:
- Week of March 15: Luisa Miller (2019) featuring Krassimira Stoyanova, Joseph Calleja, Quinn Kelsey, Soloman Howard and Christian Van Horn—conducted by Enrique Mazzola; The Queen of Spades (2020) featuring Brandon Jovanovich, Sondra Radvanovsky, Lucas Meachem and Samuel Youn—conducted by Sir Andrew Davis; Die Walküre (2017) featuring Christine Goerke, Eric Owens, Brandon Jovanovich, and Elisabet Strid—conducted by Sir Andrew Davis
- Week of April 12: Lucia di Lammermoor (2016), Les Troyens (2016), Rusalka (2014)
- Week of May 10: Don Giovanni (2014), I puritani (2018), Rigoletto (2017), La bohème (2018)
- Week of June 1: Il trovatore (2018), Elektra (2019)
Six additional titles will be released in June and will be announced at a later date. Additional casting details for all the upcoming opera titles can be found at lyricopera.org/opera-streaming.
- Rising Stars in Concert — This annual showcase concert featuring Ensemble members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center will move to the virtual space. The program will feature a wonderful selection of operatic gems, highlighting the talented artists from one of the world’s leading artist-development programs, with accompaniment provided by Ryan Opera Center pianist Chris Reynolds and a chamber ensemble of Lyric Opera Orchestra members, led by conductor Christopher Allen. (Premiering Thursday, April 29 at 7:00 pm CT on Lyric’s YouTube and Facebook channels.)
- Celebrating Sir Andrew Davis, from Mozart to Stravinsky — Lyric will celebrate Sir Andrew Davis’s more than three decades of making music at Lyric, which began with his debut as guest conductor in 1987 and has continued since he became music director in 2000. This special presentation will feature Sir Andrew conducting excerpts from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (the first opera he conducted at Lyric) and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. These pieces were to have been the last operas he would have conducted as music director this spring and will be performed by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, the Lyric Opera Chorus, and special guest artists. Soprano Janai Brugger will portray Susanna/Figaro and Anne Trulove/Rake; soprano Amanda Majeski will portray the Countess/Figaro; mezzo-soprano Kayleigh Decker will sing the trouser role of Cherubino/Figaro; tenor Matthew Polenzani will portray Tom Rakewell/Rake; and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen will sing both Figaro and Nick Shadow/Rake. (Majeski, Decker, and Polenzani are alumni of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center.) The concert will be interspersed with commentaries from several favorite Lyric artists, sharing recollections about working with Sir Andrew as a conductor, mentor, and colleague.
"Sir Andrew Davis is one of the most distinguished and beloved artists in the world and has made an amazing impact on this company throughout his tenure," says Freud, Lyric’s general director, president & CEO. "As he moves through his final year as our music director, we plan to celebrate him with a very special concert event this spring." (Premiering Sunday, May 16 at 2:00 pm CT on Lyric’s YouTube and Facebook channels.)
- The New Classics: Songs from the New Golden Age of Musical Theater — Lyric will present a virtual cabaret with a star-studded cast of Broadway and Lyric favorites. Emmy and Grammy nominated David Chase, who conducted Lyric’s productions of Carousel, The King and I, and My Fair Lady, will serve as music director and pianist, joined by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. David Chase has worked on over forty Broadway and West End productions as either the dance arranger, music director, or music supervisor. Chase has created many musical arrangements for the Boston Pops, Kennedy Center Honors, Radio City Music Hall, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and the upcoming Schmigadoon!. The New Classics will highlight the best of new and old Broadway, and will also touch on the history of the Lyric Opera House space. More details on the casting of this exciting cabaret will be announced in the coming weeks. (Premiering Thursday, June 10 at 7:00 pm CT on Lyric’s YouTube and Facebook channels.)
Lyric is also preparing for the limited-availability run of Twilight: Gods, the radical reimagining of the final chapter of Wagner's epic Ring cycle. This drive-through opera, conceived and directed by Yuval Sharon with new narrative poetry written and performed by Chicago interdisciplinary artist avery r. young, will be presented on April 28, 30, and May 2 at the Millennium Park Parking Garage. Limited tickets will be available at $125 per car, with Lyric subscribers and donors being given the first opportunity to purchase tickets.
The Twilight: Gods cast will feature mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin/Waltraute, tenor Sean Panikkar/Siegfried making his Lyric debut, bass Morris Robinson/Hagen, and baritone Donnie Ray Albert/Alberich. The Rhinemaidens will be played by three current Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members; soprano Maria Novella Malfatti; mezzo-soprano Katherine Beck, and mezzo-soprano Kathleen Felty. The casting for the role of Brünnhilde will be announced in the coming weeks.
Along with these exciting new offerings, Lyric has a slate of previously announced programs that are currently streaming or will premiere digitally in the coming weeks:
- Creating The Factotum premiered in early February, documenting the development and recent music workshop of The Factotum, a new opera by acclaimed baritone and Ryan Opera Center alumnus Will Liverman and DJ/recording artist K-Rico. Lyric has committed to continuing to support The Factotum in its next stage of development and to bringing it to the stage in a future Lyric season. The documentary can be streamed for free at lyricopera.org/factotum.
- The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Gala: Magical Music Around the World, celebrating the talent of the world-renowned Ryan Opera Center Ensemble and the success of Ryan Opera Center alumni around the world, will premiere to the public on Sunday, March 21 at 6:00 pm CT on Lyric’s YouTube and Facebook channels. This virtual concert is conceived and hosted by Ryan Opera Center Music Director and Grammy Award winner Craig Terry, with additional accompaniment from the Ryan Opera Center’s Ensemble pianist Chris Reynolds.
- In Attila Highlights in Concert: Explore More with Enrique Mazzola, Lyric’s music director designate leads world-renowned principal artists and Lyric favorites—soprano Tamara Wilson/Odabella, tenor Matthew Polenzani/Foresto, baritone Quinn Kelsey/Ezio, and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn/Attila (the latter three are Ryan Opera Center alumni)—performing excerpts of Verdi’s Attila on Sunday, April 11 at 2:00 pm CT on Lyric’s YouTube and Facebook channels. This performance event will also feature members of the Lyric Opera Chorus under the direction of Chorus Master Michael Black and original commentary from Maestro Mazzola.
- In The Sonata Sessions digital series premiering weekly starting in mid-March, Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola will lead a string ensemble featuring members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra in performances of all six of Rossini’s String Sonatas.
- The Great Verdi Chorus Showdown will feature three maestri of Lyric—Music Director Sir Andrew Davis, Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola, and Chorus Master Michael Black—each conducting two grand Verdi choruses performed by the Lyric Opera Chorus, recorded from the safety of the artists’ homes. All pieces will be presented on Lyric’s website for online audiences to vote for their favorite, starting in April.
"We look forward to welcoming our audiences back to the Lyric Opera House soon, and we are also dedicated to continuing to expand our audiences through our virtual programming, with which we have had great success this season," says Freud. "Lyric is passionately committed to adapting and shaping our offerings to be accessible to a wider audience. We have used this season to explore new creative avenues, and have taken advantage of virtual platforms in a way that will prove to be incredibly valuable in the future."
Lyric plans to announce its 2021/22 Season later this spring.
For more details on these upcoming Lyric projects and more digital content, visit lyricopera.org/shows/upcoming/.
These projects are generously made possible by Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, Patricia A. Kenney and Gregory J. O'Leary, Susan and Robert Morrison, an Anonymous Donor, and Virginia Tobiason.
Creating The Factotum is generously made possible by Lead Sponsor Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow with additional support from the Eisen Family Foundation and Laurel Appell Lipkin.
Ryan Opera Center Gala: Magical Music Around the World is generously made possible by Lead Sponsors Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel and Liz Stiffel, with additional support from Major Sponsors Richard Abram and Paul Chandler, Anders and Donna Gustafsson, Lori Julian for the Julian Family Foundation, Phil Lumpkin, Frank B. Modruson and Lynne C. Shigley, Richard Ryan, Michael Steinberg and Salme Harju Steinberg, and the Thierer Family Foundation.
Attila Highlights in Concert: Explore More with Enrique Mazzola is generously made possible by the NIB Foundation and Julie and Roger Baskes.
The Great Verdi Chorus Showdown is generously made possible by Mary Patricia Gannon.
Twilight: Gods is a project of Lyric Unlimited and is generously made possible by Julie and Roger Baskes, Ethel & William Gofen, and Donald and Anne Edwards.
Rising Stars in Concert is generously made possible by Lead Sponsor the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation with additional support from Cosponsors Dr. Scholl Foundation, Marlys A. Beider, Chauncey & Marian D. McCormick Family Foundation, Patricia A. and Gregory J. O’Leary, Lois B. Siegel, Phyllis Neiman, and the Thierer Family Foundation.
Celebrating Sir Andrew Davis, from Mozart to Stravinsky is generously made possible by Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin, the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation, Allan & Elaine Muchin, Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, Richard O. Ryan, and The Henry S. Frank Family Foundation.
Lyric Opera Streaming On Demand is made possible through a generous gift from Robert F. Finke in memory of Carol Keenan.
Lyric Opera of Chicago is committed to redefining what it means to experience great opera. The company is driven to deliver consistently excellent artistry through innovative, relevant, celebratory programming that engages and energizes new and traditional audiences.
Under the leadership of General Director, President & CEO Anthony Freud, Music Director Sir Andrew Davis, Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola, and Special Projects Advisor Renée Fleming, Lyric is dedicated to reflecting, and drawing strength from, the diversity of Chicago. Lyric offers, through innovation, collaboration, and evolving learning opportunities, ever-more exciting, accessible, and thought-provoking audience and community experiences. We also stand committed to training the artists of the future, through The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center; and to becoming increasingly diverse across our audiences, staff, programming, and artists—magnifying the welcoming pull of our art form, our company, and our city.
Through the timeless power of voice, the splendor of a great orchestra and chorus, theater, dance, design, and truly magnificent stagecraft, Lyric is devoted to immersing audiences in worlds both familiar and unexpected, creating shared experiences that resonate long after the curtain comes down.
Join us @LyricOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #Lyric2021 #LongLivePassion
For more information, visit lyricopera.org.
About the Ryan Opera Center
The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is Lyric's preeminent artist-development program that nurtures the talents of some of the most promising operatic singers and pianists of each generation. The program’s Ensemble members earn their coveted spot by successfully auditioning among more than 400 artists worldwide. Its alumni are among the dominant names in opera today. Donor generosity ensures continued unparalleled training, performance experience, and professional readiness of Ensemble members. This highly competitive program, established in 1974, is honored to enjoy the support of acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming as Advisor, along with full-time staff Director Dan Novak, Music Director Craig Terry, and Director of Vocal Studies Julia Faulkner.
For more information, visit lyricopera.org/ryanoperacenter.