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Lyric Opera of Chicago Announces 2017/18 Season - JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, Leonard Bernstein Tribute and More!

A season of superb music and spectacle is now on sale to Lyric subscribers - including three new mainstage opera productions, three new-to-Chicago opera productions, one new musical production, and one new-to-Chicago chamber opera production.

General Director Anthony Freud and Music Director Sir Andrew Davis announced today the repertoire and casting for the company's 2017/18 season - the third season that they have fully planned together. Joining them for the announcement was Creative ConsultantRenée Fleming.

"We are very excited about the 2017/18 season," said Freud. "Continuing our new Ring cycle with Die Walküre will be a major highlight, as will be our first collaboration with The Joffrey Balletin Orphée et Eurydice. We're also including several of the Lyric audience's favorites - Rigoletto, Turandot, and Così fan tutte, as well as three ravishingly beautiful romantic dramas - I Puritani, The Pearl Fishers, and Faust. Of these, Orphée, Walküre, and Faustare brand-new productions; and Rigoletto, Turandot, and The Pearl Fishers are new-to-ChicaGo Productions. Musically, dramatically, and visually, the season will offer abundant rewards for longtime opera lovers and newcomers alike."

Freud also noted that a new production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar (presented at Lyric's Civic Opera House) and a new-to-Chicago production of the 2016 chamber opera Fellow Travelers(presented by Lyric Unlimited at the Athenaeum Theatre) will both receive company premieres.

Audiences will experience a generous variety of musical and dramatic styles, and an array of settings and costumes ranging from mythical to historic and exotic. With three operas sung in French, four in Italian, and one in German, projectEd English translations will make it possible for everyone to follow the stories of love lost and found, illicit passion and retribution, mistaken identities, family battles, royal riddles, romantic triangles, the pursuit of perpetual youth, and more.

The thrill of familiar melodies permeates the 2017/18 season. Even opera novices will enjoy the frisson of recognition when they hear the Duke's jaunty "La donna è mobile" in Rigoletto, the orchestral "Ride of the Valkyries" in Die Walküre, Nadir and Zurga's pledge of faithful friendship in The Pearl Fishers, Calaf's soaring "Nessun dorma" inTurandot, the sublime farewell trio in Così fan tutte, and the Soldiers' Chorus in Faust.

The casting for Lyric's 63rd season is full of stellar national and International Artists whom opera lovers will instantly recognize. "In planning our latest season, we have assembled a truly exceptional roster of well-known and multi-faceted singers including Piotr Becza?a, Lawrence Brownlee, Andriana Chuchman, Alessandro Corbelli, Christine Goerke, Brandon Jovanovich, Quinn Kelsey,Mariusz Kwiecie?, Ana María Martínez, Eric Owens, Matthew Polenzani, Marina Rebeka, Albina Shagimuratova, Christian Van Horn, Amber Wagner, and Erin Wall," Freud said.

"We are also immensely excited to welcome a dazzling array of talented and vocally thrilling artists who will make their Lyric debuts," the general director noted. "We are pleased to welcome to the Lyric Stage Maria Agresta, Ain Anger, Benjamin Bernheim, Janai Brugger, Rosa Feola, Dmitry Korchak, Stefano La Colla, Edward Parks, Elisabet Strid, Elena Tsallagova, and Alexander Tsymbalyuk."

Sir Andrew Davis will conduct three operas next season, beginning with the highly-anticipated continuation of Wagner's Ring cycle, Die Walküre. He will also return to lead The Pearl Fishers andTurandot. In addition to Davis, conductors for the 2017/18 season include Harry Bicket (Orphée et Eurydice), Marco Armiliato(Rigoletto), Enrique Mazzola (I Puritani), James Gaffigan (Così fan tutte), and EmManuel Villaume (Faust).

The 2017/18 season's operas will be staged by internationally acclaimed and award-winning directors including John Neumeier(Orphée et Eurydice), David Pountney (Die Walküre), John Cox(Così fan tutte), and Kevin Newbury (Faust).

Lyric will present Jesus Christ Superstar (reimagining Timothy Sheader's production from Regent's Park Open Air Theatre) April 27 - May 20, 2018, featuring an all-star cast (to be announced at a later date), along with members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Two special concerts are planned for early 2018. On February 25, 2018, internationally celebrated Polish tenor Piotr Becza?a (who triumphed at Lyric earlier this season in Lucia di Lammermoor and previously in Faust) will perform a recital of opera and song as a Subscriber Appreciation event; and on March 10, 2018, Lyric will celebrate the 100th birthday of composer, conductor, and pianistLeonard Bernstein in a spectacular evening of music.

Lyric Unlimited will present the Chicago premiere of Fellow Travelers, by composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce. Based on the evocative novel by Thomas Mallon, the 2016 chamber opera earned national critical acclaim in its world premiere at Cincinnati Opera. Kevin Newbury directs four performances at the Athenaeum Theatre in March 2018.

Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2017/18 Season

New Coproduction (featuring The Joffrey Ballet)

Orphée et Eurydice by Christoph Gluck (1714 - 1787)

Seven performances, Sept. 23 - Oct. 15, 2017

In French with projectEd English translations

One of the most influential works in the history of opera, Orfeo ed Eurydice (1762) - presented at Lyric in its original Italian version most recently in 2005/06 - was revised significantly by Gluck for the Paris Opera in 1774. This version altered the role of Orpheus from alto castrato to tenor, while also adding a significant amount of ballet music to the score (including two celebrated scenes, the "Dance of the Furies" and the "Dance of the Blessed Spirits"). Familiar from Greek myths, the plot centers on the poet-musician Orphée (Orpheus), whose singing was so beautiful that it could charm the fierce guardians of the Underworld. After receiving encouragement from the god of love, Amour, Orphée travels to Hades to bring his dead wife, Eurydice, back to earth. Integral to the production will be the participation of TheJoffrey Ballet in the company's first collaboration with Lyric.

Orphée
Dmitry Korchak*

Conductor
Harry Bicket

Eurydice
Andriana Chuchman?

Director/Choreographer
John Neumeier*

Amour
Lauren Snouffer

Set/Costume/Lighting Design
John Neumeier*

Associate Set Designer
Heinrich Tröger*

Lighting Realization
Chris Maravich

Chorus Master
Michael Black

*Lyric Debut ?Ryan Opera Center Alumna

Anthony Freud: "Orphée et Eurydice requires artists of deep sensitivity and intelligence, both to produce it and to perform it. We're thrilled that world-renowned choreographer John Neumeier - in a very exciting collaboration between Lyric and The Joffrey Ballet - will not only create the vital dance elements of this opera, but also direct and design it. Harry Bicket, who has already proven himself a superb interpreter of Gluck in Lyric's previous production, will conduct. I know the marvelous Russian lyric tenor Dmitry Korchak will lavish on the role of Orphée all the beauty of sound, dazzling technique, and deep expressiveness it requires. Andriana Chuchman, one of our most successful Ryan Opera Center alumni of recent years, will return as Eurydice, and the delightful Lauren Snouffer will be back with us to sing Amour."

Sir Andrew Davis: "Gluck's version of the Orpheus myth is one of the most exquisite in the entire repertoire. We've produced it at Lyric before with great success, but not in the version that has Orpheus recast as a tenor (rather than male or female alto). There's virtuosity in the music for the hero, as well as captivating ballet music, added to satisfy the expectations of Paris audiences. At the same time, all the musical and dramatic glory of the original version is retained, making for an unforgettably beautiful and profoundly moving experience."

A coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, and Staatsoper Hamburg.

New Lyric Opera coproduction of Gluck's Orphée et Eurydicegenerously made possible by The Monument Trust (UK), the Abbott Fund, Margot and Josef Lakonishok, the NIB Foundation, anAnonymous Donor, J.P. Morgan, The Anne and Burt Kaplan Fund, Bill and Orli Staley Foundation, and Liz Stiffel.

New-to-Chicago Production
Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)

Eight performances, Oct. 7 - Nov. 3, 2017

In Italian with projectEd English translations

Rigoletto, Verdi's masterpiece of 1851, presents a magnificent, deeply moving characterization of a hunchbacked court jester consumed by bitterness and revenge. Rigoletto is the father of Gilda, who is seduced and abandoned by the licentious Duke of Mantua. Sparafucile is the assassin hired by Rigoletto to murder the Duke; Maddalena is Sparafucile's seductive sister; and Count Monterone's curse on Rigoletto initiates the drama of the opera.

Rigoletto
Quinn Kelsey°

Conductor
Marco Armiliato

Gilda
Rosa Feola*

Director
E. Loren Meeker

Duke
Matthew Polenzani°

Set Designer
Michael Yeargan

Sparafucile
Alexander Tsymbalyuk*

Costume Designer
Constance Hoffman

Maddalena
Zanda Šv?de*

Lighting Designer
Chris Maravich

Monterone
Todd Thomas

Chorus Master
Michael Black


*Lyric Debut °Ryan Opera Center Alumni

Anthony Freud: "It is a source of immense pride to all of us at Lyric that Quinn Kelsey, an alumnus of our Ryan Opera Center and one of today's few true Verdi baritones, will return to lead the cast ofRigoletto. The title role has become his signature at major houses all over North America and Europe. His fellow Ryan Opera Center alumnus, Matthew Polenzani, one of the foremost tenors of our time, will be back with us after his recent triumph here as Tamino. These two Lyric favorites will be joined by Rosa Feola, an entrancing young Italian soprano, and by the charismatic Ukrainian bass Alexander Tsymbalyuk, in their Lyric debuts. I'm delighted that Marco Armiliato - a master of his native Italian repertoire - will return to conduct, and that E. Loren Meeker will create new direction within the beautiful production from San Francisco Opera."

Sir Andrew Davis: "My conducting teacher in Italy, the legendary Franco Ferrara, once told me that Rigoletto was, in fact, the greatest of all Italian operas. Certainly its melodies are endlessly appealing (who doesn't adore 'La donna è mobile,' 'Caro nome,' and the glorious quartet?), and the protagonist Rigoletto is one of the most monumentally dramatic and powerful characterizations in the history of opera."

Lyric Opera presentation of Verdi's Rigoletto generously made possible by Julie and Roger Baskes, Howard L. Gottlieb and Barbara Greis, and Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow. Production owned by San Francisco Opera.

New Production

Die Walküre by Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883)

Seven performances, Nov. 1 - Nov. 30, 2017

In German with projectEd English translations

The second opera of Wagner's monumental Ring cycle, Die Walkürefocuses on the conflict between Wotan, king of the gods, and his mortal son, Siegmund, who has unwittingly fallen in love with his own twin, Sieglinde, the wife of the brutish Hunding. This arouses the wrath of Wotan's wife, Fricka (the goddess of marriage), and the compassion of Wotan's daughter, the warrior-maiden Brünnhilde. The turning point of the opera arrives when Brünnhilde disobeys her father by siding with Siegmund in the latter's fight against Hunding. This production continues Lyric's new Ring, which began with the opening production of the 2016/17 season, Das Rheingold.

Brünnhilde
Christine Goerke

Conductor
Sir Andrew Davis

Sieglinde
Elisabet Strid*

Director
David Pountney

Fricka
Tanja Ariane Baumgartner

Original Set Designer
Johan Engels

Siegmund
Brandon Jovanovich

Set Designer
Robert Innes Hopkins

Wotan
Eric Owens

Costume Designer
Marie-Jeanne lecca

Hunding
Ain Anger*

Lighting Designer
Fabrice Kebour

Choreographer
Denni Sayers

*Lyric Debut

Anthony Freud: "After David Pountney's thrilling production of Das Rheingold, which opened Lyric's new Ring cycle this season, I'm incredibly eager to witness his vision of Die Walküre, one of Wagner's most human dramas with its exploration of family relationships. The production will renew David's collaboration with Sir Andrew Davis, which was so memorable not just in Rheingold but also in The Passenger two seasons ago. Returning to us will be four brilliant, internationally acclaimed Wagnerians: Christine Goerke, Eric Owens, Brandon Jovanovich, and Tanja Ariane Baumgartner. We'll also welcome to Lyric the remarkable Swedish soprano Elisabet Strid and the formidable Estonian bass Ain Anger."

Sir Andrew Davis: "I find Die Walküre a deeply engrossing work, in which relationships between the major characters are revealed psychologically in the most remarkably insightful way by Wagner. At the same time, this opera's music is surely the most beautiful in the entire Ring cycle, from the arias of Siegmund and Sieglinde to Wotan's grandiose farewell and the ravishing Magic Fire Music that ends the opera. I found conducting Walküre during Lyric's 2004/05 season one of the most rewarding experiences of my operatic career, and I very much look forward to returning to it."

New Lyric Opera production of the Ring cycle generously made possible by Lead Sponsor an Anonymous Donor and cosponsors Mr. & Mrs. Dietrich M. Gross, the Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa, and Ada and Whitney Addington.

New Lyric Opera production of Wagner's Die Walküre generously made possible by the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation, the Mazza Foundation, Helen and Sam Zell, and theMarianne Deson Trust, in memory of her parents Samuel and Sarah Deson.

New-to-Chicago Production

The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet (1838 - 1875)

Seven performances, Nov. 19 - Dec. 10, 2017

In French with projectEd English translations

Bizet's captivating 1863 opera, The Pearl Fishers, is beloved by audiences everywhere for its score, which includes the most popular tenor-baritone duet in opera. The libretto and music conjure up a particularly exotic locale: ancient Ceylon, where the priestess Leïla is loved by both the fisherman Nadir and Zurga, king of the pearl fishers. The travails of this love triangle lead to disaster when Zurga believes himself betrayed by Leïla and Nadir.

Leïla
Marina Rebeka

Conductor
Sir Andrew Davis

Nadir
Matthew Polenzani°

Director
Andrew Sinclair

Zurga
Mariusz Kwiecie?

Set and Costume Designer
Zandra Rhodes*

Nourabad
Andrea Silvestrelli

Lighting Designer
Ron Vodicka*

Chorus Master
Michael Black

Choreographer
John Malashock*

*Lyric Debut °Ryan Opera Center Alumnus

Anthony Freud: "We're delighted to welcome back director Andrew Sinclair and to introduce Lyric audiences to the fabulously colorful set and costume designs of Zandra Rhodes, a leading figure in international fashion. Sir Andrew will lead a cast of great Lyric favorites: Marina Rebeka, who was so remarkable as both Violetta and Donna Anna at Lyric; Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecie?, who triumphed together in this opera in a new Met production last season; and Andrea Silvestrelli, currently performing in our Norma, who will be singing a French role at Lyric for the first time."

Sir Andrew Davis: "For years I've been eager to take on The Pearl Fishers. What exquisite music this is! We all know the famous tenor-baritone duet, but there's a great deal more to savor - not just the arias and the soaring love duet, but also sweepingly dramatic ensembles and choral scenes. It's an exotically beautiful score, with Ceylon brought to life through an elegant, quintessentially French sensibility."

Lyric Opera presentation of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers generously made possible by the Harris Family Foundation and Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel. Production owned by San Diego Opera.

New-to-Chicago Production

Turandot by Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924)

Ten performances, Dec. 5, 2017 - Jan. 27, 2018

In Italian with projectEd English translations

Turandot (1926), the final work of Puccini's career, showcases the composer's magnificent melodic outpourings (including the tenor's celebrated "Nessun dorma") and reveals Puccini at his peak as a creator of exotically beautiful orchestration. Taking place in ancient Peking, the story centers on the icy Princess Turandot, who will marry the prince who answers her three riddles correctly, but any suitor who fails is put to death. Calaf is the unknown prince who falls in love with Turandot at first sight and, victorious in the riddles, challenges her to learn his name. Calaf is loved by the slave Liù, who serves his father Timur, the exiled Tartar king. The lighter side of the opera is contributed by Turandot's three lively ministers - Ping, Pang, and Pong.

Turandot
Amber Wagner°

Conductor
Sir Andrew Davis (12/5 - 1/21)
Robert Tweten (1/27)

Liù
Maria Agresta (December)*
Janai Brugger (January)*

Director
Rob Kearley*

Calaf
Stefano La Colla*

Set and Costume Designer
Allen Charles Klein*

Timur
Andrea Silvestrelli

Lighting Designer
Chris Maravich

Ping
Zachary Nelson

Chorus Master
Michael Black

Pang
Rodell Rosel°

Pong
Keith Jameson

*Lyric Debut °Ryan Opera Center Alumni

Anthony Freud: "In the years since Amber Wagner concluded her tenure at the Ryan Opera Center, her voice has been recognized as one of the most thrilling on the international scene. After her great successes at Lyric in Il trovatore and Tannhäuser, all of us look forward to welcoming her back for the awe-inspiring title role of Turandot. Performing opposite her will be three debuting artists who have distinguished themselves in major international houses: Italian soprano Maria Agresta, American soprano Janai Brugger, and Italian tenor Stefano La Colla. We'll present Puccini's opera in a beautiful production that originated at The Dallas Opera."

Sir Andrew Davis: "It's exhilarating to conduct Turandot, since Puccini was such a stupendous orchestrator. When I conducted this opera previously at Lyric, the orchestra and I simply reveled in the exoticism of the instrumentation and the sheer grandeur of the score. At the same time, I'm also attracted to the intimate arias of the lyric soprano Liù, and of course, I - like the rest of the world - can't resist 'Nessun dorma,' which has become perhaps the most popular of all tenor arias!"

Lyric Opera presentation of Puccini's Turandot generously made possible by Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison. Production owned by Lyric Opera of Chicago, originally created by Bliss Hebert and Allen Charles Klein for Florida Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, and San Francisco Opera.

I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini (1801 - 1835)

Seven performances, Feb. 4 - Feb. 28, 2018

In Italian with projectEd English translations

The opera takes place at a fortress near Plymouth during the English Civil War of the 1640s. Elvira is betrothed to Sir Riccardo Forth, a Puritan colonel, although she is not in love with him. Instead, she loves Arturo Talbot, a Cavalier and a Stuart sympathizer, who loves her in return. Once aware of Elvira's unhappiness, Elvira's uncle, Sir Giorgio, convinces her father, Lord Walter, to give his permission for her to marry Arturo. At the wedding celebration, Arturo discovers that Queen Enrichetta has been imprisoned in the castle. By covering the queen in a wedding veil, Arturo helps her escape. Elvira believes she has been abandoned by Arturo, but in the end, the two are happily reunited.

Elvira
Albina Shagimuratova

Conductor
Enrique Mazzola

Arturo
Lawrence Brownlee

Director
Eric Einhorn

Riccardo
Anthony Clark Evans°

Set Designer
Ming Cho Lee

Giorgio
Adrian Sâmpetrean

Costume Designer
Peter J. Hall

Lighting Designer
Chris Maravich

Chorus Master

Michael Black

°Ryan Opera Center Alumnus

Anthony Freud: "Opera companies can produce I Puritani only when four extraordinary singers are available, and I'm delighted to say that we have them. Albina Shagimuratova, the Russian soprano who was so enthralling as both Gilda and Lucia at Lyric, will return for the virtuosic role of Elvira. Lawrence Brownlee, after his dazzling Lyric debut last season as Ramiro in Cinderella, will sing the even more stratospheric role of Arturo. Baritone Anthony Clark Evans, a giftEd Ryan Opera Center alumnus now embarked on what will certainly be a major career, portrays Riccardo, with the marvelous Romanian bass Adrian Sâmpetrean, who made an indelible impression at Lyric in this season'sLucia di Lammermoor, returning as Giorgio. That production also saw the company debut of Enrique Mazzola, and I'm very pleased to welcome him back to conduct this wonderfully romantic production."



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