Lyric Opera of Chicago Announces 2019-2020 Season, With Wagner’s ‘Ring’ Cycle, ‘Don Giovanni’, ‘Madama Butterfly’

By Keegan Morris |

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A Lyric Opera of Chicago performance ofDie Walküre, which will be performed in Lyric’s 2019-20 season as part of Wagner’s Ring cycle (Photo: Cory Weaver)

Today, Lyric Opera of Chicago announced its 2019-2020 season, including seven mainstage operas (three of which are company premieres), three full performances of Lyric’s new Ring cycle, and the Broadway at Lyric premiere of 42nd Street. As part of its artistic and community outreach initiative, Lyric Unlimited, Lyric will present the Midwest premiere of a new opera in its first collaboration with Chicago Shakespeare Theater in June 2020.

In November 2019, soprano Sondra Radvanovksy will perform in a semi-staged concert performance of “The Three Queens,” made up of selections of Donizetti’s “queen” operas, Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn), Maria Stuarda (Mary Queen of Scots), and Roberto Devereux. The upcoming season will also feature a recital from Sir Bryn Terfel in February 2020, marking the world-renowned bass-baritone’s first return to Lyric in 15 years.

In remarks during the announcement of the new season, general director Anthony Freud noted that 2019-20 marks Sir Andrew’s Davis’ 20th year as the company’s music director. Freud stated that Lyric’s presentation of Luisa Miller marks the beginning of a multi-year exploration of Verdi’s early operas, while Dead Man Walking marks the start of a multi-year commitment to presenting contemporary operas.

Bryn Terfel (Photo: Mitch Jenkins courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon)

The season begins on September 28, 2019, with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in an original Lyric production. The cast includes Adam Plachetka as Figaro, Marianne Crebassa as Rosina, Lawrence Brownlee as Count Almaviva, and Alessandro Corbelli as Dr. Bartolo. Making his debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago, bass Krzysztof Bączyk sings Don Basilio. Lyric’s music director and principal conductor, Sir Andrew Davis, conducts, and Rob Ashford directs.

Later in October, Lyric shares a new-to-Chicago production of Verdi’s Luisa Miller, its first presentation of this opera in more than 30 years. Krassimira Stoyanova leads the cast as Luisa, with Joseph Calleja as Rodolfo, and Ryan Opera Center alumni Quinn Kelsey and Christian Van Horn as Miller and Walter, respectively. Also appearing are Alisa Kolosova as Federica, and Soloman Howard as Wurm in his Lyric debut. Enrique Mazzola conducts, and Francesca Zambello directs.

November opens with Dead Man Walking, a Lyric premiere by Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally. Patricia Racette, as Sister Helen Prejean, and Ryan McKinny, as Joseph De Rocher, star. Susan Graham appears as Mrs. De Rocher, with Whitney Morrison as Sister Rose, and Clay Hilley as Father Grenville. Nicole Paiement conducts. Leonard Foglia directs.

Next in November comes Mozart’s seminal Don Giovanni, an original Lyric production set in 1920s Spain. Ildar Abdrazakov makes his Lyric debut as the titular character. Rachel Willis-Sørensen performs Donna Anna, Chicago area-native Amanda Majeski is Donna Elvira, and in her first performance at Lyric, Ying Fang sings Zerlina. James Gaffigan conducts and Robert Falls directs.

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (Photo: Felix Sanchez, Houston Grand Opera)

2020 opens with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, beginning February 6. Ana María Martínez and Brian Jagde are Cio-Cio-San and B.F. Pinkerton, the lovers in this tragic romance. The cast includes Deborah Nansteel, as Suzuki, Anthony Clark Evans, as Sharpless, and Rodell Rosel, as Goro. Henrik Nánási conducts, and Michael Grandage directs.

Also in February, Lyric brings a new production of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades (Pikovaya Dama) to Chicago. The cast features Brandon Jovanovich as Gherman, Sondra Radvanovsky as Lisa, Jane Henschel as the Countess, and Elizabeth DeShong as Polina. Sir Andrew Davis conducts. Richard Jones directs.

In April 2020, Lyric shares the remarkable final installment of director David Pountney’s new Ring cycle, Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods). Christine Goerke and Burkhard Fritz return as Brünnhilde and Siegfried, reprising their roles from previous segments of Lyric’s Ring. Sir Andrew Davis conducts.

Lyric will then offer three opportunities to view David Pountney’s Ring cycle in its entirety, across three weeks in April and May. As above, Sir Andrew Davis conducts and David Pountney directs The Ring of the Nibelung in its monumental completion. Concerning the three complete Ring cycles, Sir Andrew expressed his opinion that this quartet of music dramas is “one of the great achievements of Western civilization.”

In May and June, Lyric will premiere a new-to-Chicago production of the beloved musical comedy, 42nd Street. The musical, featuring songs like “We’re In The Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway, “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and of course, “42nd Street,” is directed and choreographed by Stephen Mear.

In June, Lyric shares the Lyric Premiere of Blue by Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson, a coproduction of Lyric Opera Chicago, Glimmerglass Opera, and Washington National Opera. The performance of Blue at Chicago Shakespeare Theater marks a commitment to new or recent chamber operas, which will be ongoing. A collaboration with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which is where the work will be performed, librettist Tazewell Thompson directs.

For more information about Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2019-2020 season, visit