WFMT Press Room

For Immediate Release:

February 2, 2007

The Bucksbaum Family Lyric Opera Broadcasts continue on 98.7WFMT with Lyric Opera of Chicago's live opening-night performance of Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on Saturday, February 10 at 7:15 pm and live third performance of Dialogues of the Carmelites by Francis Poulenc Friday, February 23 at 7:15 pm

The full Lyric Opera season will be rebroadcast nationally May 12-June 30

The Bucksbaum Family Lyric Opera Broadcasts continue on Saturday, February 10 on 98.7WFMT with Mozart's bittersweet romantic comedy Così fan tutte.

The broadcast, hosted by Norman Pellegrini, Lisa Flynn, and Lois Baum, produced by Peter Whorf, will start at 7:15 pm with 15 minutes of live commentary and taped interviews. The live broadcast of the seventh opera in Lyric Opera of Chicago's 52nd season commences at 7:30 pm. The opera is sung in Italian. Additional commentary and taped interviews will air during the opera's intermission.

Lyric Opera of Chicago returned to the airwaves on Oct. 21 with the live opening-night performance of Salome by Richard Strauss, thanks to a major grant of principle funding that was made by The Matthew and John Bucksbaum Families and General Growth Properties to support the resumption of Lyric Opera's local and national radio broadcasts, which had ceased following the 2001-02 season for lack of funding.

A condition of the $2-million grant is that Lyric raise an additional $2 million from other sources directly in support of the broadcasts. The Bucksbaum Family grant and matching funds guarantee the broadcasts at least through the 2011/12 season.

The broadcasts will reach a total audience of more than 20 million listeners annually through the live in-season local broadcasts and nationally syndicated postseason rebroadcasts available through other stations. In addition to Salome, Verdi's Il trovatore (Nov. 4), Gounod's Roméo et Juliette (Nov. 20), Johann Strauss Jr.'s Die Fledermaus (Dec. 15), and Puccini's Turandot (Jan. 26) have been broadcast live this season.

Airing on its opening night of Saturday, February 10, Così fan tutte (1790) is the most sophisticated and intimate of the three Mozart/da Ponte operas. Two couples discover uncomfortable truths about their feelings for each other when the cynically mischievous Don Alfonso (baritone Sir Thomas Allen) stirs the pot with two earnest young officers, Ferrando (tenor Eric Cutler/Lyric debut) and Guglielmo (baritone Nathan Gunn), wagering that their respective fiancées, sisters Dorabella (mezzo-soprano Lauren McNeese) and Fiordiligi (soprano Erin Wall), cannot remain faithful for 24 hours. The officers depart as if to go to war, then return disguised to woo each other's girlfriends. Don Alfonso manipulates the proceedings in cahoots with the sisters' maid, the ever-resourceful Despina (soprano Nuccia Focile/Lyric debut).

Sir Andrew Davis conducts stage director John Cox's production, set in a Mediterranean casino resort with WWI looming. The set and costume designer is Robert Perdziola, Robert Bryan (debut) is lighting designer, and the chorus master is Donald Palumbo. Says Lyric's general director William Mason, "Our leading ladies are alumnae of the Ryan Opera Center who earned accolades here in recent seasons – Erin Wall for Pamina, Donna Anna, and Marguerite, Lauren McNeese for Cherubino, Siébel, Mercédès, Wellgunde and Rossweisse. The beloved British baritone Sir Thomas Allen, seen here previously in Il barbiere de Siviglia and Die Fledermaus, will sing Don Alfonso with us for the first time; and the Lyric favorite, Nathan Gunn, who was our remarkable Billy Budd and also the appealing Anthony in Sweeney Todd, now shows us an entirely different characterization. We also have major debuts with Nuccia Focile, who has had wonderful successes internationally as Despina, and with Eric Cutler, a fine young tenor who's already earned international acclaim in several leading roles."

The production is owned by San Francisco Opera Association. The Lyric Opera presentation is generously made possible by Exelon, Proud Parent of ComEd and The Negaunee Foundation.

On Friday, February 23, this season's final live Chicago-area Lyric Opera broadcast on 98.7WFMT will be the third performance Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites in its Lyric premiere. The broadcast begins at 7:15 pm, and includes live commentary and recorded interviews by Pellegrini, Flynn, and Baum before the performance begins and during the intermission.

One of the most gripping French operas of any era, Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites (1957) presents an actual historical occurrence – the martyrdom of the nuns of Compiègne (a small town north of Paris) during the French Revolution – and examines it through the experiences of a fictional protagonist. Blanche de la Force (soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian) is a sensitive young Parisian aristocrat who seeks refuge as a novice in the monastery of Compiègne, where she is welcomed by the ailing mother superior, Mme. de Croissy (mezzo-soprano Felicity Palmer) and befriended by the sunny Sister Constance (soprano Anna Christy). Once the Mother Superior dies, significant tension develops between her successor, Mme. Lidoine (soprano Patricia Racette) and the formidable Mother Marie (mezzo-soprano Jane Irwin/Lyric debut). The cast also includes Blanche's father, the Marquis de la Force (bass-baritone Dale Travis), and her brother, the Chevalier de la Force (tenor Joseph Kaiser).

Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Robert Carsen production, to be staged at Lyric by Didier Kersten (American debut). The set designer is Michael Levine, costume designer is Falk Bauer (Lyric debut), and Christine Binder has created the lighting based on the original designs by Jean Kalman. Donald Palumbo is chorus master. Original choreography is by Philippe Giraudeau, revived by August Tye (Lyric debut).

"This opera presents an incredibly powerful experience¸" says Mason of Dialogues of the Carmelites. "It never fails – by the end you're just blown away by the drama, and the emotional impact of the music."

The production is owned by the Netherlands Opera. The Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust and The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust are the generous sponsors of this presentation.

The 2007 local rebroadcast dates and national syndication release dates for The Bucksbaum Family Lyric Opera Broadcasts are as follows:

Turandot/Puccini – May 12
Iphigénie en Tauride/Gluck – May 19
Salome/R. Strauss – May 26
Il trovatore/Verdi – June 2
Roméo et Juliette/Gounod – June 9
Die Fledermaus/J. Strauss, Jr. – June 16
Così fan tutte/Mozart – June 23
Dialogues of the Carmelites/Poulenc – June 30

The WFMT Radio Network will make these opera programs available for broadcast by other radio stations around the country via satellite uplink. The programs may not be broadcast before the dates listed above. Each station chooses its own broadcast date and time. The stations may broadcast each opera from WFMT's live satellite feed on the release date, or they may downlink and store each opera for future broadcast.

It is expected that The Bucksbaum Family Lyric Opera Broadcasts will be heard in at least 226 markets nationally, with some possible carriage in Europe, according to Steve Robinson, senior vice president for radio, WFMT.

For more information about Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2006-07 season (including cast lists for each broadcast), please go to For more information about the Lyric Opera broadcasts and all programming on 98.7WFMT, Chicago's classical experience, please visit

Magda Krance
Lyric Opera of Chicago
(312) 332-2244

Jack Zimmerman
Lyric Opera of Chicago
(312) 332-2244

WFMT Media Contact:
Holly H. Gilson
98.7WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network
(773) 509-5424