Lyric Opera of Chicago Announces 2016-17 Season

By Stephen Raskauskas |

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Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago

On Thursday, January 14, 2015, Lyric Opera of Chicago announced its 2016-17 season, scheduled to include eight opera productions on its main stage, one opera production at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and one musical, part of its ongoing American Musical Initiative. Casting includes Eric Owens, Piotr Beczała, Christine Goerke, Sondra Radvanovsky, Joseph Calleja, and Ana María Martínez.

The season opens with Wagner’s Das Rheingold, the first of four new productions that Lyric will mount as part of an entire new Ring Cycle. Lyric’s general director, Anthony Freud said, “From every point of view, a new Ring is the most massive challenge that any opera can undertake.” Lyric’s music director, Sir Andrew Davis, conducts a cast that includes Eric Owens (Wotan) and Stefan Margita (Loge). Five singers make their company debut in Rheingold: Samueal Youn (Alberich); Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (Fricka); Okka von de Damerau (Erda); Wilhelm Schwinghammer (Fasolt); and Tobias Kehrer (Fafner). Ryan Opera Center alumnus Rodell Rosel returns to Lyric to perform the role of Mime in the production. The artistic team also includes director David Pountney and costume designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca. Johan Engels, who nearly completed designs for the Rheingold, passed away in 2014 as the production was being developed. Designer Robert Innes Hopkins has been enlisted in his stead. Rheingold will run for 6 performances between October 1 and October 22, 2016.

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, known for the title character’s famous mad scene at the end of the opera, comes to Lyric in a production owned by the Foundation of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Grand Théâtre de Genève. Conductor Enrique Mazzola will lead Albina Shagimuratova (Lucia) and Piotr Beczała (Edgardo), who perform the leading roles. Ryan Opera Center alumnus Quinn Kelsey will perform the role of Enrico. Adrian Sâmpetrean makes his Lyric debut in the role of Raimondo. Paul Brown designed the production. Lucia will run for 7 performances between October 15 and November 6, 2016.

Berlioz’s The Trojans has its Lyric Opera premiere in a new production starring acclaimed soprano Christine Goerke as Cassandre. Sir Andrew Davis conducts Sophie Koch (Didon), Énée (Brandon Javanovich), Okka von der Damerau (Anna), Lucas Meachem (Chorèbe), and Christian Van Horn (Narbal), a Ryan Opera Center alumnus. Tim Albery directs the production, which features designs by Tobias Hoheisel. Five performances of Berlioz’s rarely-performed, epic opera run between November 12 and December 3, 2016.

Massenet’s Don Quichotte comes to Lyric in a new-to-Chicago production owned by the San Diego Opera. Ferruccio Furlanetto performs the title role. Clementine Margaine and Nicola Alaimo make their company debuts in the roles of Dulcinée and Sancho, respectively. Additional casting has not yet been announced. Sir Andrew Davis conducts. Matthew Ozawa is the stage director. Six performances of Don Quichotte run between November 19 and December 7, 2016.

A new production of Mozart’s Magic Flute comes to Lyric, developed by director Neil Armfield and designed by Dale Ferguson. Lyric’s previous production of Flute premiered 30 years ago. The cast for the premiere performances of the new Flute includes Andrew Staples (Tamino), Christiane Karg (Pamina), Kathryn Lewek (Queen of the Night), Adam Plachetka (Papageno), Christof Fischesser (Sarastro). Matthew Polenzani joins the cast for the final performances of Flute to perform the role of Tamino. Ryan Opera Center alumnus Rodell Rosel plays Monostatos in all of the performances. In total, eleven performances of Flute run between December 10, 2016 and January 27, 2017.

Bellini’s Norma comes to Chicago in a co-production developed with Canadian Opera Company, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and San Francisco Opera. Sondra Radvanovsky plays the Druid high priestess, Norma. Elizabeth DeShong, a Ryan Opera Center alumna, performs the role of Adalgisa. Russell Thomas and Andrea Silvestrelli appear as Pollione and Oroveso respectively.  Riccardo Frizza leads from the podium, making his Lyric debut. Kevin Newbury is the stage director. Norma runs for 7 performances from January 28 – February 25, 2017.

Bizet’s Carmen returns to Lyric, though in a new co-production with Houston Grand Opera. The roles of Carmen and Don José will be shared. Ekaterina Gubanova and Joseph Calleja perform together from February 11 – March 6. Anita Rachvelishvili and Brandon Jovanovich perform together from March 16 – March 25. Eleanora Buratto and Christian Van Horn perform the roles of Micaëla and Escamillio, respectively, in all of the performances. Harry Bicket conducts performances of the opera through March 6, Ainars Rubikis takes the baton on March 16 for the remaining performances. Rob Ashford will serve as both the director and choreographer for the production. David Rockwell is the production set designer, while no costume designer has yet been announced. 11 performances of Carmen run between February 11 and March 25, 2017.

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin returns to Lyric in the same production seen at the Civic Opera House during the 2007-2008 season, which was originally created for the Metropolitan Opera and owned by Canadian Opera Company. Mariusz Kwiecień performs the title role opposite Ana María Martínez as Tatiana. Charles Castronovo and Alisa Kolosova make their Lyric debuts in the roles of Lensky and Olda. The cast is rounded out with Katharine Goeldner (Larina), Jill Grove (Filipyevna), Dmitry Belosselskiy (Gremin), and Keith Jameson (Triquet). Alejo Perez makes his Lyric debut conducting all performances. Paula Suozzi will serve as stage director for the revival (Robert Carsen is the original stage director). 9 performances of Onegin run from February 26 – March 17, 2017.

Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Ladythe fifth installment in Lyric’s American Musical Initiative, will run for 25 performances from April 28 – May 21, 2017. Casting and artistic staff have not yet been announced.

Other performances that Lyric presents as part of its 2016-17 season include:

  • “Celebrating Plácido,” a performance with Plácido Domingo and others, will include Act Two of Verdi’s La Traviata and other repertoire to be announced. Two performances will take place on March 9 & 13, 2017
  • Tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass-baritone Eric Owens present a Subscriber Appreciation Concert on April 9, 2017.
  • Violinist Itzhak Perlman performs a recital on April 23, 2017.
  • Lyric Unlimited presents the Chicago premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance for two performances on March 24 and 26, 2017.

WFMT will broadcast Lyric’s mainstage opera productions throughout 2016-17. Tune in to 98.7 WFMT in Chicagoland or from anywhere in the world at For information about the current season of Lyric Opera broadcasts, click here.

For more information about the upcoming season at Lyric Opera, visit the company’s website.