The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2023-2024 season brings a mix of fan favorites and exciting new works. The opera company announced feature performances in six languages, special guests like global superstars Lise Davidsen, Eric Owens, and Nina Stemme, a special performance to highlight the Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra, and a gala performance with performing arts royalty.
“Opera is at a very challenging moment…” admits Lyric Opera President and CEO Anthony Freud. He avows that Lyric will withstand economic and other challenges to prioritize “presenting the best singers in the world, bringing exciting and thought-provoking large-scale productions to the stage, and offering fresh contemporary perspectives that point to the future of our beloved art form.”
Indeed, next year’s lineup offers choices for traditional and contemporary opera fans alike. The Lyric’s six mainstage operas will be Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment, Janáček’s Jenůfa, Rossini’s Cinderella, Terrence Blanchard’s Champion, and Verdi’s Aida.
Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman is Lyric’s dramatic season opener. Running from September 23 to October 7, it features some of Wagner’s most spellbinding music. Tomasz Konieczny is The Dutchman; Tamara Wilson is Senta.
Soprano and host of Live from Lincoln Center Audra McDonald headlines the season-opening gala on Friday, October 6, just ahead of a spectacular new concert year. McDonald, who holds the most Tony Awards for individual performances, will share a mix of music for the theater new and old.
The month of November sees two exciting works on the opera stage. First, Donizetti’s delightful classic bel canto comedy The Daughter of the Regiment returns to Lyric for the first time in nearly 50 years. Opera stars soprano Lisette Oropesa (making her Lyric debut) and tenor Lawrence Brownlee will share the stage as the head-over-heels couple Marie and Tonio, each executing some of opera’s most notoriously difficult passages and flourishes. Also in the cast are Ronnita Miller as the Marquise and Alessandro Corbelli as Sulpice.
Later in November, Czech maestro (and music director of the London Royal Opera) Jakub Hrůša conducts Janáček’s formidable Jenůfa. Rising superstar Lise Davidsen, in her first apperance at Lyric, is the titular character, with the legendary Nina Stemme as Kostelnička. Murder and mysterious music abound in this opera that brought Janáček his first acclaim as a composer.
A comedy leads the Lyric Opera into the new year, with Rossini’s Cinderella running from January 21 through February 10. Taiwanese conductor Yi-Chen Lin leads Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s critically acclaimed production, featuring Vasilisa Berzhanskaya as the central role, Jack Swanson as Ramiro, Alessandro Corbelli as Don Magnifico, and Joshua Hopkins as Dandini.
Later in the season, Terence Blanchard (composer of Fire Shut Up in My Bones) returns to Lyric with he describes as “an opera in jazz”. Champion, running from January 27th through February 11th, tells the tale of tortured boxer Emile Griffith. New opera star Justin Austin joins a cast of Lyric Opera favorites in this production including Eric Owens and Whitney Morrison.
The 2023-2024 lineup of operas concludes with none other than Verdi’s Aida. Production director Francesca Zambello and visual artist RETNA will give a fresh take to the opera’s ancient setting with vivid sets and dynamic staging. Running from March 9 through April 7, this production will star Jamie Barton, Russell Thomas, and Michelle Bradley in the opera’s titular role.
In late March, Lyric will mount a special two-performance presentation of Mozart’s Requiem. Opening the program is a Mozart work whose obscurity contrasts with the headline piece’s fame — Thamos, King of Egypt. The seldom-heard work represents Mozart’s only foray into incidental music, created for a play that is all but forgotten.
“I am excited to be conducting such a profoundly diverse repertoire at Lyric next season,” exclaims music director Enrique Mazzola, who notes that Terrence Blanchard’s opera Champion is part of Lyric’s commitment to expand opera repertoire. At an event at Lyric Opera House, Freud and Mazzola teased titles for future seasons’ new opera efforts: expect works by Rhiannon Giddens, Missy Mazzoli, and Bryce Dessner in years to come.
Lyric’s current season is not yet concluded. Carmen (running until April 7) opened the weekend of March 11. And still to come are new opera triptych Proximity (March 24 – April 8), and the return of Lyric’s blockbuster West Side Story (June 2-25). On August 20, Chicagoans will also be able to catch a free show at Millennium Park featuring artists from Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center, for a program called “Sunday in the Park with Lyric.”
For more details on Lyric Opera programming, visit lyricopera.org.