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What You Need to Know About CARMEN at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Audiences are invited to experience one of opera’s greatest hits, featuring iconic music that is instantly recognizable even for those new to the art form.

What You Need to Know About CARMEN at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Opera's legendary femme fatale returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago with Bizet's Carmen - March 11 - April 7, 2023 - starring J'Nai Bridges, a leading interpreter of the famous title role and a singer with deep Chicago roots. Audiences are invited to experience one of opera's greatest hits, featuring iconic music that is instantly recognizable even for those new to the art form.

The diva you know and love. BET has described two-time Grammy Award winner J'Nai Bridges as "the Beyoncé of the opera world." As Carmen, a signature role she has portrayed around the globe, that description couldn't be more accurate. An alumna of Lyric's Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center training program and a Kennedy Center Next 50 cultural leader, the mezzo-soprano makes her triumphant return to the Lyric Stage. Bridges has appeared in more than 15 productions at Lyric and continues to shine as an unparalleled talent in opera.

A star-studded cast. Bridges is joined by Charles Castronovo as Don José. A critically acclaimed tenor, he was last seen at Lyric during the 2021/22 Season as Nemorino in The Elixir of Love. He is joined by South African soprano Golda Schultz as Micaëla in her Lyric debut. Schultz is the 2022 winner of the prestigious Bavarian Culture Prize, with the citation proclaiming that "a fantastic firework of tones fills the stage when Golda Schultz sings." The first prize winner in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach sings the role of the charismatic bullfighter Escamillo in his Lyric debut.

An international supporting cast of future stars. This production of Carmen is heightened by members of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble. Mexican soprano Denis Vélez is Frasquita and mezzo-soprano and Michigan native Katherine DeYoung is Mercédès. Hailing from New York, tenor Ryan Capozzo is Remendado, while Colombian baritone Laureano Quant is Dancaïre. Bass Wm. Clay Thompson, a Kentucky native, is Zuniga, and baritone Wisconsinite Ian Rucker joins his fellow Ensemble members as Moralès. Rounding out this stellar cast is Mexican tenor Alejandro Luévanos as Lillas Pastia.

Opera's biggest blockbuster. The immensely talented Lyric Opera Orchestra will be led by accomplished conductor Henrik Nánási, who is acclaimed for his performances of Carmen in one of opera's biggest theaters, the Arena di Verona. At Lyric, he was last seen during the 2019/20 Season in Madama Butterfly, and made a memorable debut in the 2015/16 Season leading Le nozze di Figaro. He served as general music director at Komische Oper Berlin from 2012 to 2017. Nánási is joined by talented stage director Marie Lambert-Le Bihan, whose work at Lyric includes La clemenza di Tito in the 2013/14 Season and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in the 2012/13 Season.

A proper operatic spectacle, Carmen features the talents of set designer Robin Don, costume design by Robert Perdziola, and lighting design from Chris Maravich. This production also includes a children's chorus featuring members of Uniting Voices Chicago, led by Josephine Lee. As always, Lyric's brilliant chorus will be directed by chorus master Michael Black.

Dance the night away. This spirited production of Carmen features choreography from Stephanie Martinez. An award-winning Chicago-based dance artist and founder of the acclaimed PARA.MAR Dance Theatre, she was awarded Joffrey Ballet's "Winning Works: Choreographers of Color" commission in 2015. Martinez is assisted by Noelle Kayser alongside ballet instruction courtesy of August Tye.

New to opera? Start with a certified classic. Carmen has cemented itself in popular culture with its iconic music and irresistibly tragic story. Audiences will fall in love with opera's fiercest heroine, so get ready for the biggest operatic sensation of the season - only at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Performance Details:

  • Eight chances to see Carmen: March 11, 15 (matinee), 19 (matinee), 22, 25, 30 (matinee), April 2 (matinee), and 7.
  • Sung in French, with projected English titles.
  • A total running time of 3 hours and 25 minutes, including two intermissions.
  • For updated information about Lyric's ongoing initiatives regarding health and safety protocols, visit

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