Parsifal, Otello, The Sound of Music, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Lyric Opera of Chicago and its general director, Anthony Freud, announced the lineup for Lyric's 2013-14 season todaY. Joseph Calleja, Joyce DiDonato, Nathan Gunn, Thomas Hampson, Ana María Martínez, Matthew Polenzani, and Patricia Racette are among those headlining the new season's offerings. These comprise 67 performances of eight different operas, beginning October 5, 2013 and concluding March 23, 2014: new productions of Parsifal, La traviata, The Barber of Seville, and Rusalka (Lyric premiere); a revival of Otello; and new-to-Chicago stagings of Madama Butterfly, Die Fledermaus, and La clemenza di Tito. Lyric's music director, Sir Andrew Davis, will lead three operas, and guest conductors Marco Armiliato, Bertrand de Billy and Michele Mariotti will make their house debuts. Additionally, Lyric will present a new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music in the spring of 2014, continuing the company's American Musical Theater Initiative, and Davis will conduct a special Subscriber Appreciation Concert in March featuring Lyric's creative consultant - the star soprano Renée Fleming - with tenor Jonas Kaufmann.
As Anthony Freud affirmed, the new season - Lyric's 59th - fully embodies the company's motto, Long Live Passion. "Passion is the essence of opera, musically and dramatically," Freud said, before explaining:
"We have tried in every case to match the perfect conductor, the perfect director, and the perfect cast to achieve real collaboration. Opera at its best is a true marriage of music and theater - a creative process in which a work is interpreted by director and conductor along with singers, designers, and choreographers in order to achieve a complete fusion. When opera does achieve this fusion of disciplines, when it truly becomes a new element, its passion and power are revelatory and matchless."
Freud added that the 2013-14 season would introduce internationally acclaimed directors, conductors, singers, and designers to Chicago, as well as welcoming back several artists who had already previously triumphed at Lyric. Both Sir Andrew Davis and Renée Fleming joined him in making the announcement, together with Ted Chapin, president and executive director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company.
Davis, who will be on the podium for Parsifal, Rusalka, and La clemenza di Tito, said:
"Parsifal is my favorite Wagner opera and I'm thrilled to return to it in a new Lyric production with a great cast. It embodies the sacred and profane, the carnal and the spiritual, redemption and the ability to find grace, among other things.
"Rusalka is a darkly tragic fairytale and one of the most beautiful scores of any romantic opera. I am so excited that we're doing it at Lyric for the first time ever - and with a terrific cast and new production.
"La clemenza di Tito is a tale of political and sexual intrigue in ancient Rome, returning for the first time since 1989 in a fine production from Aix-en-Provence with a superlative cast. I guarantee it will not be 'stand-and-deliver' opera seria!"
Major artists making Lyric debuts in the 2013-14 season include Antonio Poli (Otello/U.S. operatic debut); Amanda Echalaz, James Valenti, Stefano Secco, and Christopher Purves (Madama Butterfly); Daveda Karanas, Kwangchul Youn, and Rúni Brattaberg (Parsifal); Marina Rebeka (La traviata); Juliane Banse, Daniela Fally, Adrian Eröd, and Michael Spyres (Die Fledermaus); Isabel Leonard (The Barber of Seville), and Ekaterina Gubanova (Rusalka).
Returning International Artists include Johan Botha, Ana María Martínez, and Falk Struckmann (Otello); Patricia Racette, Mary Ann McCormick, and David Cangelosi (Madama Butterfly); Paul Groves, Thomas Hampson, and Tómas Tómasson (Parsifal); Joseph Calleja and Quinn Kelsey (La traviata); Bo Skovhus and Andrew Shore (Die Fledermaus); Nathan Gunn, Alek Shrader, Alessandro Corbelli, and Kyle Ketelsen (The Barber of Seville); Ana María Martínez, Brandon Jovanovich, Jill Grove, and Eric Owens (Rusalka); and Matthew Polenzani, Joyce DiDonato, Amanda Majeski, and Christian Van Horn (La clemenza di Tito).
Many artists make notable role debuts in the 2013-14 season: Ana María Martínez as Desdemona (Otello); Paul Groves in the title role and Daveda Karanas as Kundry (Parsifal); Juliane Banse as Rosalinde, Michael Spyres as Alfred, Emily Fons as Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus); Jill Grove as Jezibaba, Eric Owens as Vodnik, and Ekaterina Gubanova as Foreign Princess (Rusalka); and Matthew Polenzani as Tito, Cecelia Hall as Annio, Emily Birsan as Servilia, and Christian Van Horn as Publio (La clemenza di Tito).
Stage directors for the new productions are John Caird, Lyric debut (Parsifal), Arin Arbus, Lyric debut (La traviata), Rob Ashford, Lyric debut (The Barber of Seville), and Sir David McVicar (Rusalka). The new-to-ChicaGo Productions are by Michael Grandage (Madama Butterfly), E. Loren Meeker, Lyric debut (Die Fledermaus), and Sir David McVicar (La clemenza di Tito). Lyric's revival of Sir Peter Hall's Otello will be directed by Ashley Dean in his Lyric debut.
Davis added that the 2013-14 season marks the return of chorus master Michael Black (Lyric's interim chorus master, 2011-12 season), who will prepare the Lyric Opera Chorus for all eight operas in the season, and that ensemble members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center will have roles in several of the season's operas.
Famed soprano and Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming partners with German tenor sensation Jonas Kaufmann for Lyric's Subscriber Appreciation Concert on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. "I am so excited to share the Lyric Opera stage in concert with Jonas - a marvelous artist and collaborator - as well as with the wonderful Lyric Opera Orchestra and Sir Andrew," Fleming said. Subscribers can reserve for this special event when placing subscription orders for Lyric's 2013-14 season.
Joining Freud at the press conference for the 2013-14 season announcement was Ted Chapin, president and executive director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company, to comment on Lyric's plans to present classic R&H musicals in 2014 and beyond, following the regular opera season. The upcoming presentations planned to date for Lyric's American Musical Theater Initiative are The Sound of Music (2014), Carousel (2015), The King and I (2016), and South Pacific (2017).
"What, you might ask, are Rodgers and Hammerstein doing at a place like Lyric Opera of Chicago?" Chapin queried during the press conference. "Well, R&H is here because we were invited. From the first meeting I had with Anthony Freud and Renée Fleming, I was thrilled with the idea that this major American Opera Company would devote the same sort of passion and artistry to the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein that they already give to Mozart, Verdi, and Wagner. Furthermore, their plan to present five completely new productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals over five consecutive years is monumental - and a great way to launch Lyric's American Musical Theater Initiative. This is the first series of its kind. For Lyric Opera to recognize the role that musicals from Broadway's Golden Age have in the world of 21st-century lyric theater is remarkable - and a great honor for us."
Offerings for families, students
Lyric will again offer reduced prices for school-aged children for an opera in Lyric's regular mainstage season. Youngsters will be able to see regular performances of The Barber of Seville when accompanied by an adult with a regularly priced ticket. Following the great success of Popcorn & Pasquale this season, a special Family Matinee performance of The Barber of Seville will be offered on Saturday, March 22, 2014, at 2pm. The understudy cast of Lyric's mainstage production will perform a shortened adaptation of the rollicKing Rossini comedy. Through Lyric Unlimited, a wide range of performances and programs for students and adults will be offered as the Civic Opera House and in community venues throughout the Chicago area.