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Lyric Opera of Kansas City Kicks Off 60th Anniversary 2017-2018 Season with EUGENE ONEGIN

Lyric Opera of Kansas City opens its 60th Anniversary season with Tchaikovsky's compelling masterpiece, Eugene Onegin (oh-nyeh-gin with hard 'g') Sept. 30, Oct. 4, 6 and 8 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The production will be sung in Russian with English subtitles.

In one of the greatest of all musical adaptations of a literary classic, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky turned Alexander Pushkin's Russian "novel in verse" into one of the world's most beloved operas. Awash in aristocratic formality and extravagance, Onegin's youthful disillusionment snowballs into a tragic love story saturated with drama, reversal of affections, betrayal of friendship, and death. Pushkin's profoundly human, ultimately devastating story, elevated by Tchaikovsky's richly layered and unabashedly expressive music, make Eugene Onegin perhaps the most universally beloved of all Russian operas.

General Director and CEO Deborah Sandler said, "Our 60th season is designed to give our audiences an experience like no other, with its compelling combination of operas. This year begins with an opera considered by many to be the greatest Russian drama in the operatic repertoire, Eugene Onegin. It is lyrical and powerful with its magnificent music, strong characters, and virtuosic singing. Lyric Opera of KC's audiences will be first to see this all new production, built at our very own Production Arts Building, as part of another ambitious co-production partnership we've created with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Michigan Opera Theatre, Atlanta Opera and Seattle Opera. Our mission is to make Lyric Opera of Kansas City indispensable to the public through transformational opera experiences and broad service that captures the hearts and minds of our communities. You will not be disappointed."

About the Artists

Baritone Morgan Smith joins Lyric Opera of Kansas City for the first time in his debut of the title role of Onegin. Since his time as a Seattle Opera Young Artist from 2001-2003, Mr. Smith has enjoyed a varied career, originating many roles including Starbuck in Moby-Dick, for which he was praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as an artist of "vocal splendor, moral authority and deep empathy." Mr. Smith's other recent appearances include Seattle Opera, Arizona Opera, Vancouver Opera and Austin Lyric Opera.

Soprano Joyce El-Khoury returns to Lyric Opera in the role of Tatyana after her 2014 performance of Violetta in Lyric's La traviata. Of her performance in the title role of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda at Seattle Opera, The Seattle Times wrote: "El-Khoury scored a triumph in the title role, combining an exquisite delicacy of sound with affecting vulnerability - yet producing plenty of steel in the confrontation scene in which she denounces Elizabeth..." This season, Ms. El-Khoury will make her role and company debut as Imogene in Il Pirata with the Theater St. Gallen, her company debut at the Teatro Real Madrid as Musetta in La bohème, and perform Sylvia in the world premiere performances of Donizetti's L'ange de Nisida in a return to the Royal Opera in collaboration with Opera Rara. In the 2016-2017 season, Ms. El-Khoury made several major debuts: at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Violetta in La traviata; at the Glyndebourne Festival, also as Violetta; and at Opéra National de Bordeaux as Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles. She made her role and house debuts with Opera Philadelphia as Liù in Turandot, and also as Salomé in Massenet's Hérodiade with Washington Concert Opera. Previously Ms. El-Khoury performed Violetta in La traviata with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, Musetta in La bohème with the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin with North Carolina Opera, and joined the roster of San Diego Opera to perform the role of Tatyana Bakst in Jake Heggie's new opera Great Scott. Her debut CD, Écho was recently released on Opera Rara.

Mezzo-Soprano Megan Marino returns to Lyric Opera in the role of Olga, after making her critically acclaimed debut as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel in the Fall of 2016. Recent performances include: Rosina in IL Barbiere di Siviglia (Virginia Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Florida Grand Opera), Jessie in The Long Walk (Utah Opera), Second Wood Nymph in Rusalka, as well as Roméo et Juliette and Rigoletto (Metropolitan Opera), Despina in Così fan tutte (Central City Opera), Annina in Der Rosenkavalier (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Meg Page in Falstaff (Des Moines Metro Opera), Angelina in La cenerentola (Opera Fort Collins), the Page in Strauss' Salome and Claire in the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain (Santa Fe Opera Resident Artist Program). She holds prizes from the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation, Opera Index, the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, the Opera Birmingham Vocal Competition and the George London Foundation.

This season, American tenor JoNathan Johnson makes his debut at Canadian Opera Company in a production of Anna Bolena. In the 2016-2017 season, Jonathan made his debut at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Frederic in the season finale of The Pirates of Penzance and at San Diego Opera as Fenton in Falstaff. He also completed his time as a member of the Patrick G. & Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the Lyric Opera of Chicago's professional artist-development program, where his recent appearances in mainstage productions at the Lyric Opera of Chicago included Les Troyens, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Merry Widow, Der Rosenkavalier, Capriccio, The Magic Victrola and Mieczys?aw Weinberg's Holocaust opera The Passenger. Future seasons include return engagements with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Other recent engagements include Lindoro at the Portland Opera, La Damnation de Faust at the Grant Park Music Festival, Le Fils in Les mamelles de Tirésias with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, a performance of Schumann's Dichterliebe as part of a Liederabend in Chicago, and various appearances in the Harris Theater's Beyond the Aria series, the 125th Anniversary Gala for the Auditorium Theater, and on WFMT radio as part of the Ryan Opera Center Recital Series. Hailing from Macon, GA, Mr. Johnson holds a Master's degree and professional artist certificate from the A.J. Fletcher Institute of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Bass-baritone Paul Whelan will be making his Lyric Opera debut in the role of Prince Gremin. Last season he added Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte) to his repertoire at Hawaii Opera Theatre. He has appeared at Geneva Grand Theatre as Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream and at Gothenburg Opera as Claudio in Hamlet. Most recent highlights include roles of Nettuno, Tempo and Antinoo (Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria) at The Grange Festival, Daland (Der fliegende Holländer) at Hawaii Opera Theatre and at New Zealand Opera, Giorgio (I puritani) at Boston Lyric Opera and at Melbourne's Victorian Opera, Nick Shadow (The Rake's Progress) for New Zealand Opera, and Banco (Macbeth) at Opera North in the UK. Past highlights include Beethoven's Mass in C at Grant Park Music Festival, Seneca (L'incoronazione di Poppea) in both Lille and Dijon, Theseus (A Midsummer Night's Dream) for English National Opera, Collatinus (The Rape of Lucretia) for Norwegian Opera, and Claggart (Billy Budd) and Alidoro (La Cenerentola) at Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

Tomer Zvulun is one of opera's most exciting young directors, earning consistent praise for his creative vision, which is often described as cinematic and fresh. His most recent work with Lyric Opera was as director of Die Fledermaus in 2014. His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, the opera companies of Seattle, San Diego, Minnesota, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Wolf Trap and Buenos Aires, and educational institutions and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Boston University, and IVAI in Tel Aviv. He made his European debut at Wexford Festival Opera directing the Europe premiere of Silent Night which won him the Irish times award for best production of the year. His future engagements include debuts at Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera and returns to Seattle, Dallas, Wexford and Cincinnati Opera. Born and raised in Israel, he makes his home in Atlanta, where he has been the General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera for the past five seasons.

Making his Lyric Opera debut is conductor Ari Pelto. In 2015, Mr. Pelto was named Opera Colorado's first ever Music Director, where he has conducted acclaimed performances of Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly, Aida and the recent world premiere of Lori Laitman's, The Scarlet Letter. In upcoming seasons at Opera Colorado, Mr. Pelto will lead productions of La Fanciulla del West, Lucia di Lammermoor, La bohème, Falstaff and the world premiere of Gerald Cohen's Steal a Pencil for Me. Highlights of the 2015-2016 season included Aida at Utah Symphony and Opera and return appearances at Atlanta Ballet and Opera Memphis. After earning a Bachelor of Music in violin performance at Oberlin Conservatory, he studied conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Rubin Academy in Jerusalem and with Imre Pallo at Indiana University.

Tickets start at just $29 and availability varies by performance. To purchase tickets, call Ticketing & Patron Services (816) 471-7344. Patrons can select their own seat and print their tickets at home by visiting www.kcopera.org. Limited student rush tickets are available for $15 90 minutes before the performances, with a valid student ID.

First Friday, Sept. 1 from 5 to 8 p.m. Presented by Lyric Opera of Kansas City at the Beth Ingram Administration Building (1725 Holmes, KCMO) - Enjoy preview performances of Lyric Opera's NEW PRODUCTION of Eugene Onegin by Lyric Opera NEW Resident Artists and Young Apprentices, free drinks and food. The event is FREE and open to the public.

Eugene Onegin Vodka Tasting Tour

Fri., Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Beth Ingram Administrative Building (1725 Holmes, KCMO)

Join us at LOKC as we pair the three acts of Eugene Onegin with three craft vodkas from right here in the KC Crossroads! The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the administrative offices of Lyric Opera of Kansas City, where Ryan Maybee from Manifesto leads us in a tasting of Rieger Vodka, paired with highlights from Act I of Eugene Onegin. Then, we will walk one block to the West to Lifted Spirits for a tasting paired with highlights from Act II of the opera. We will finish by walking seven blocks further west to Tom's Town Distillery for one more tasting and highlights from Act III. At each location, we'll discuss the plot of an act, hear an aria, and try a new vodka. The price for this special "flight" is $35 per person and can be purchased online or at Ticketing & Patron Services (816) 471-7344.

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