Code: BEL16
Genre: Music, Classical, Opera
Length: 1 hour (58:30)
Frequency: 1 week
Delivery Type: PRX
Optional Breaks: One
Segment Count: 2 segments
Air Window: May 14, 2016 – May 13, 2017

Host: Bill McGlaughlin
Executive Producer: Steve Robinson
Producer: Bill Siegmund

Contact Information:
Estlin Usher: 773-279-2112,
David Sims: 773-279-2027,
Tony Macaluso: 773-279-2114,

PRX Link:

This special is available free of charge to all affiliate stations for two broadcasts through May 13, 2017.


This one-hour radio program traces the creation of composer Jimmy López’ opera Bel Canto, a Lyric Opera of Chicago commission premiered in the 2015-2016 season. The opera is based on a novel, adapted from actual events, and it examines the unique challenges and opportunities that come with each adaptation. You will meet all the principals through interviews with Renee Fleming, Jimmy López, Nilo Cruz, conductor Sir Andrew Davis, director Kevin Newbury, and others. The program features music from the premiere performances at Lyric as well as examples of the opera in development and other works by López.

On the night of December 17, 1996, the residence of the Japanese Ambassador in Lima, Peru was seized by members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, an incident which seems even more terrifying today than it was in the last century. Some hostages were released over time, but the residence was occupied for over four months before the siege was ended in a government raid. In her novel Bel Canto, Pen/Faulkner Award winner Ann Patchett (The Magician’s Assistant, Truth & Beauty) re-imagines these events, focusing not on the terror but on the personalities and relationships that develop between captors and captives.

With the character of Roxanne Coss, the opera world’s most revered soprano, Patchett introduces one significant dramatic element to her story. Ms. Coss had been hired to perform as a gift to the evening’s guest of honor, and her beautiful singing mesmerizes not only the invited guests but also the terrorists crouched in hiding. Taking cues from magical-realist themes, the opera shows the power of music to bridge gaps between language, culture, class, and ideology; the power of music to be the catalyst that allows relationships and bonds to form where even simple communication is otherwise difficult.

The opera Bel Canto was commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago and curated by Renée Fleming. The first premier at Lyric in over a decade, Bel Canto was written by Peruvian composer Jimmy López with a libretto by Cuban-born, Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz. Bel Canto premiered during Lyric’s 2015~2016 season.



Host Bill McGlaughlin

William (Bill) McGlaughlin’s introduction to music came late; he was fourteen before he took his first piano lessons. “Happily, I understood immediately what a wonderful thing I’d stumbled into. I can remember thinking as I walked away from my second piano lesson — “Well, that’s it. I’ll be a musician. Of course, I had no idea what that decision meant exactly.”

Over the years, McGlaughlin was to discover that “being a musician” could embrace a great many paths. He has served as an educator, as a performer— a trombonist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony, and as a conductor — seven years as Associate Conductor with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, followed by periods as music director of orchestras in Eugene, Tucson and San Francisco, and most recently, a twelve year engagement as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. He has also been active as a guest conductor, leading the Baltimore Symphony, Denver Symphony, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, New Orleans Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Opera Theatre St. Louis, American Music Theater Festival and San Antonio Festival.

McGlaughlin has also been active in broadcasting, serving as host of the popular public radio program St. Paul Sunday since its inception in 1980. In 1996 the program received the highest honor in broadcasting, the George Foster Peabody Award. McGlaughlin has worked with PBS, the BBC and is co-host of the chamber music program Center Stage From Wolf Trap. In November 2002, the NEA announced a special grant to the WFMT Radio Network to fund the development of a new daily program: Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin, which began syndication on October 6, 2003. Exploring Music can be heard in over two hundred markets across the country as well as internationally, including broadcasts in Australia, New Zealand, and China, among others.