Patti LuPone, Jeanine Tesori's BLUE & More Set for Lyric Opera of Chicago 2024/25 Season

The company’s 70th anniversary season opens with Verdi’s epic of vengeance: Rigoletto, September 14–October 6, 2024.

By: Mar. 12, 2024
Patti LuPone, Jeanine Tesori's BLUE & More Set for Lyric Opera of Chicago 2024/25 Season
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Lyric Opera of Chicago has revealed its 2024/25 Season, a carefully balanced mix of four classic operas, two contemporary works never before performed in Chicago, three unmissable special concerts and recitals, and a festive 50th anniversary celebration of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center artist-development program. Lyric also revealed the extension of Music Director Enrique Mazzola’s contract for another five-year term through the 2030/31 Season, guaranteeing a continuity of leadership as Lyric continues its search for a successor to retiring General Director, President & CEO Anthony Freud.

The company’s 70th anniversary season opens with Verdi’s epic of vengeance: Rigoletto, September 14–October 6, 2024, conducted by Maestro Mazzola in his sixth Verdi opera at Lyric. Directed by Mary Birnbaum in her Lyric debut, this Lyric production stars Igor Golovatenko in the title role, Mané Galoyan as Gilda and Javier Camarena as the Duke of Mantua in their Lyric debuts, and Soloman Howard as Sparafucile.

The season continues with Beethoven’s timely political opera Fidelio, not seen at Lyric in 20 years, on stage September 26–October 10, 2024. Fidelio is conducted by Music Director Enrique Mazzola — his first outing with Beethoven’s powerful score — and directed by Matthew Ozawa, whose work as a stage director at Lyric includes Don Quichotte in the 2016/17 Season and Nabucco in the 2015/16 Season and who joined its administration as Chief Artistic Administration Officer in 2022. This
new-to-Chicago production stars Elza van den Heever and Russell Thomas as the lovers Leonore and Florestan, as well as Brian Mulligan as Pizarro and Mika Kares as Rocco.

To salute the 2024/25 Season, one of musical theater’s most legendary stars will headline Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes on Friday, October 4, 2024. This brand-new show, never before seen in Chicago, is LuPone’s "personal musical memoir" and will commemorate key moments in her life through song. Following the performance, Lyric’s Season Opening Gala continues the celebratory spirit of the evening.

November brings a pair of operas that celebrate opera’s noble past while pointing to the future of the art form. Mozart’s beloved comic masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro, on stage November 9–30, 2024, is directed by Chicago Shakespeare Theater founder Barbara Gaines and conducted by Erina Yashima in her Lyric debut. Mozart’s sublime music will be sung by an all-star cast: Peter Kellner in his Lyric debut as Figaro, Ying Fang as Susanna, Federica Lombardi in her Lyric debut as Countess Almaviva, Gordon Bintner in his Lyric debut as Count Almaviva, and Ryan Opera Center alumna Kayleigh Decker as Cherubino.

In repertory with one of opera’s most enduring favorites is one of opera’s newest modern classics: Blue, by composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson, which was named the Best New Opera of 2019 by the Music Critics Association of North America. The opera, at Lyric November 16–December 1, 2024, follows a Black police officer and his wife as they grapple with the killing of their son at the hands of a white police officer. Gospel-influenced music and vivid flashbacks capture the grief of a family and community navigating loss. This Lyric co-production, originally scheduled for the conclusion of the 2019/20 Season but postponed due to the pandemic, is conducted by Joseph Young and directed by Thompson, both in their Lyric debuts. Blue stars Kenneth Kellogg in his Lyric debut as the Father, Chicago native Zoie Reams as the Mother, and Norman Garrett as the Reverend.

The internationally celebrated (and Berwyn-born) Sondra Radvanovsky is an artist beloved by Lyric audiences. Following the sold-out sensation of her innovative 2019 concert program The Three Queens and her season-opening star turn as Lady Macbeth in the 2021/22 Season (as well as many other leading roles at Lyric), Radvanovsky returns to Lyric for another unique project: Sondra Radvanovsky in Concert: The Puccini Heroines, featuring the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Music Director Enrique Mazzola, for three performances only, February 8–16, 2025. Radvanovsky and Mazzola are working in partnership to create a new and original program that highlights arias from each of Puccini’s 12 operas, from Le Villi to Turandot. Audiences will hear some of opera’s most popular arias and will discover some of Puccini’s lesser-known gems in a concert event that will redefine the term "show-stopping."

Puccini’s unforgettable music returns for a longer stay when La Bohème takes the stage in a gloriously detailed new-to-Chicago production, March 15–April 12, 2025. Conducted by Jordan de Souza, who led Lyric’s shimmering Florencia en el Amazonas in the 2021/22 Season, and directed by Melanie Bacaling in her Lyric debut, the production features Pene Pati in his Lyric debut as Rodolfo and a thrilling cast of returning stars, including Ailyn Pérez as Mimì, Gabriella Reyes as Musetta, Will Liverman as Marcello, and Peixin Chin as Colline.

Paired with the classic La Bohème is another contemporary work in its Chicago premiere: The Listeners, by the celebrated team of composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, March 30–April 11, 2025. Mazzoli and Vavrek received enormous critical praise for their 2016 collaboration Breaking the Waves, which won the inaugural Best New Opera Award from the Music Critics Association of North America and was shortlisted for the "Best World Premiere" Prize at the International Opera Awards. 
Co-commissioned and co-produced by Lyric, Norwegian National Opera, and Opera Philadelphia, The Listeners was met with thunderous applause when it premiered in Oslo in 2021. Based on a story by novelist Jordan Tannahill, the work is a dark and psychologically charged thriller about a woman’s descent into manipulation by a charismatic group leader as the foundation of her life crumbles, and explores how she finds unexpected community and family during a time of crisis. Conducted by Lyric’s Music Director Enrique Mazzola, who won great acclaim for his mastery with contemporary work with Terence Blanchard’s Champion earlier this season, and directed by the exciting theater director Lileana Blain-Cruz in her much-anticipated Lyric debut, The Listeners stars Nicole Heaston in her Lyric debut as Claire, Kyle Ketelsen as Howard, Jasmine Habersham in her Lyric debut as Ashley, Jonas Hacker as Kyle, and Daniela Mack as Angela.

Lyric concludes its regular season with Lyric in Concert: A Wondrous Sound, April 16 and 18, 2025. Maestro Mazzola will design an original program of some of opera’s choral favorites and most thrilling overtures — perfect for opera aficionados and newcomers alike — that shows off the truly grand scale of the more than 100 artists of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Lyric Opera Chorus. In addition to the two performances at the Lyric Opera House, Lyric in Concert: A Wondrous Sound will also have a pair of performances presented at venues around the Chicagoland area, with more details to be announced soon.

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, Lyric’s world-class artist-development program, celebrates its 50th anniversary during the 2024/25 Season. The program’s annual Rising Stars in Concert on Friday, April 25, 2025, will be a particularly special occasion to mark this milestone. It will feature the 2024/25 Ensemble performing with the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Lyric’s Music Director Enrique Mazzola and directed by Lyric’s own Matthew Ozawa. Many familiar faces will return to Lyric to celebrate the program’s 50 years of excellence in training the next generation of opera stars.

"After a very successful "season of firsts" for me, with new repertoire and even a first Aida, next season is every bit as exciting. We are once again bringing a wide range of operas and other experiences to Lyric audiences — there are so many ways to experience the joy of live performance together," says Lyric’s Music Director Enrique Mazzola. "I am also deeply gratified that my position as Music Director has been extended for another five years. The entire Lyric staff has been so supportive, and I love working with the world-class Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus and am thankful that our relationship will continue. I also look forward to deepening my mentorship work with the artists in our Ryan Opera Center and continuing to forge deeper, long-lasting partnerships with other artists and organizations in town. Now more than ever, this is my "Sweet home, Chicago."

"As an opera director, I am excited to bring my vision of Beethoven’s Fidelio to Lyric audiences, and to celebrate the Ryan Opera Center’s 50th anniversary with an evening to remember," says Matthew Ozawa, Lyric’s Chief Artistic Administration Officer. "And in my role as the head of Lyric’s Artistic Department, I am so proud that Lyric continues to embed the principles of IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) both onstage and throughout the company. Audience members will see themselves at Lyric, in both the stories we are telling and among the artists telling these stories."

"While it is bittersweet that this is the final season I announce before my retirement later this year, I am thrilled with the upcoming season of enduring classics and bold contemporary works that my colleagues and I have planned, and I know Lyric audiences will be delighted by our incredible casts and productions," says Anthony Freud, Lyric’s General Director, President & CEO. "I am also certain that with the continuing leadership of Music Director Enrique Mazzola, Lyric audiences and supporters are in very good hands, and that Lyric will continue to be producing consistently world-class seasons, as both a true cultural hub for all of Chicago and one of the world’s great opera companies."

For more information on Lyric’s 2024/25 Season,

Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2024/25 Season Schedule

September 14–October 6, 2024: Rigoletto
September 26–October 10, 2024: Fidelio
October 4, 2024: Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes and Season Opening Gala
November 9–30, 2024: The Marriage of Figaro
November 16–December 1, 2024: Blue
February 8–16, 2025: Sondra Radvanovsky in Concert: The Puccini Heroines
March 15–April 12, 2025: La Bohème
March 30–April 11, 2025: The Listeners
April 16–18, 2025: Lyric in Concert: A Wondrous Sound
April 25, 2025: Rising Stars in Concert 50th Anniversary Celebration

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