Kevin Newbury to Direct World Premiere of Lyric Opera of Chicago's BEL CANTO

Kevin Newbury to Direct World Premiere of Lyric Opera of Chicago's BEL CANTO

Anthony Freud, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, announced today that the acclaimed American director Kevin Newbury will direct the world-premiere production of Bel Canto during the company's 2015-16 season. Newbury replaces Stephen Wadsworth.

"Working on a world premiere is a highly collaborative endeavor," Freud said. "As we began to move through the process, we all came to the conclusion that it wasn't quite a fit. We at Lyric are most appreciative of Stephen Wadsworth's contribution. The decision to make the change was both mutual and amicable."

The new opera Bel Canto, currently being created by the gifted young Peruviancomposer Jimmy López, with libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrightNilo Cruz, is based on the best-selling novel by Ann Patchett. Lyric music director Sir Andrew Davis will conduct. Bel Canto is the seventh world-premiere opera that Lyric Opera of Chicago has commissioned for its mainstage since 1961.

In 2013 Kevin Newbury has staged world-premiere productions for The Santa Fe Opera (Oscar by Theodore Morrison), San Francisco Opera (The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Mark Adamo), The Minnesota Opera (Doubt by Douglas Cuomo), and Urban Arias in Arlington, Virginia (Paul's Case by Gregory Sprears). Additional productions this year include I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Lyric Opera of Kansas City, starring Joyce DiDonato), Don Giovanni (Opera Colorado), Mourning Becomes Electra (Florida Grand Opera), and Salome (Utah Opera/Utah Symphony Orchestra). In 2015 he is scheduled to direct the world premiere of The Manchurian Candidate by Kevin Puts/Mark Campbell for The Minnesota Opera.

"I am delighted to welcome Kevin Newbury to Lyric," said Freud. "He is one of the most outstanding American directors of his generation, with particular distinction in the development and direction of new operas. I am very excited about his partnership with Jimmy López, Nilo Cruz, and Sir Andrew Davis."

Both the 2001 book and the new opera Bel Canto are inspired by the Lima Crisis of 1996-97, when members of a revolutionary movement in Peru held hostages at the Japanese ambassador's house for 126 days (Dec. 17, 1996-April 22, 1997). Central to the story is the fictional famed American soprano Roxanne Coss, who will be portrayed by Australian-born American soprano Danielle de Niese. Like the novel, the opera will explore the tensions and unexpected alliances that develop when a group of culturally disparate strangers - the terrorists and their multinational hostages - are confined in close quarters for months.