The 2010-2011 season at Lyric Opera of Chicago (or Lyric Opera as it is known to insiders,) features eight distinct operas highlighted by some of the world’s top singers, directors and designers. For it’s 56th season, Lyric Opera will present two operas by Giuseppe Verdi, the quintessential French opera, Carmen by Georges Bizet, Benjamin Britten’s dreamy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan, Giacomo Puccini’s rarely heard The Girl of the Golden West, Lohengrin by Richard Wagner and George F. Handel’s Hercules.
Opening the season is Verdi’s Macbeth. Starring American baritone Thomas Hampson as Macbeth and German soprano Nadja Michael making her Lyric Opera debut as Lady Macbeth, sparks fly as the scheming couple plot and plan to overthrow the rightful heir to the Scottish throne. Up and coming tenor Leonardo Capalbo as Macduff and bass Štefan Kocán as Banquo make their Lyric Opera debuts. The production is stark and moody and is directed by Barbara Gaines, founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Carmen opens October 13 with a fantastic cast. Making her Lyric Opera debut in the title role is red-hot mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich. Following her appearances at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, her gypsy will shine at the Metropolitan Opera with future outings at San Francisco Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. American mezzo Katharine Goeldner (recently Suzuki at Lyric Opera) essays the role three times, once in October and twice in March. Singing the other March 2011 performances is Bulgarian mezzo Nadia Krasteva who also makes her Lyric Opera debut.
The good-hearted Micaëla will be sung by fast-rising sopranos Elaine Alvarez and Nicole Cabell. Alvarez, who sings the October performances created a sensation when she was promoted from cover to mainstage debut as Mimi (La Bohème) after Lyric Opera fired Angela Gheorghiu for “unprofessional behavior.” Alvarez has sung leading roles with Opera Leipzig, Alte Opera (Frankfurt), Arizona Opera and Florida Grand Opera. Soprano Cabell was launched into an international career after winning the 2005 Cardiff Singer of the World competition. A graduate of the Ryan Opera Center, the soprano has appeared at Lyric Opera as Adina (L’Elisir d’Amore), Countess Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Leïla (The Pearl Fishers). She has also appeared at the Metropolitan Opera as Adina, Pamina (The Magic Flute) and Musetta (La Bohème.)
Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee makes his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in October as Don José. This fast rising tenor has already racked up impressive appearances with the Teatro Carlo Felice (Rodolfo in La Bohème), Deutsche Oper Berlin (Cavaradossi in Tosca) and Macduff (Macbeth) at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival. Singing the role of José in the March performances is American tenor Brandon Jovanovich who will be fresh off of Carmen performances with the Gran Teatre Liceu and the Metropolitan Opera. American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen sings the swaggering Escamillo for all of the performances. A familiar presence in Chicago, he recently appeared as Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Mephistophélès (Faust) with Lyric Opera of Chicago.
On November 5, 2010 another Shahespeare-based opera takes the stage as Lyric Opera opens its A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Benjamin Britten. This cast features Lyric Opera favorites superstar countertenor David Daniels as Oberon. He will be seen at the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera and back at Lyric Opera in their production of Herucles. Soprano Anna Christy tackles the role of Tytania. She was recently Olympia in the Metropolitan Opera’s Les Contes d’Hoffman and will sing the role of Kitty in Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Last Savage at Santa Fe Opera. British bass Peter Rose whose recent performances include the Bonze (Madama Butterfly) with the Berlin Philharmonic returns to Lyric Opera as Bottom.
Two recent Ryan Opera Center graduates, Erin Wall and Elizabeth DeShong will sing Helena and Hermia. Soprano Wall’s upcoming engagements include creating Cecelia in the world premiere of The Inventor with Calgary Opera, Violetta (La Traviata) with Vancouver Opera and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with the Bayerische Staatsoper. Mezzo-soprano DeShong will be seen with English National Opera (Orsini in Lucrezia Borgia) and Canadian Opera Company (Angelina in La Cenerentola) this season.
American tenor Shawn Mathey, who excels at Mozart makes his Lyric Opera debut as Lysander and American baritone Lucas Meachem returns to Lyric Opera after appearing as Valentin (Faust.)
Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera is unveiled on November 15, 2010. The all-American cast includes Lyric Opera favorites Frank Lopardo as Gustavo, Sondra Radvanovsky as Amelia and Mark Delavan as Renato. Lopardo has sung the great lyric tenor roles with the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Teatro alla Scala. Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky spends the season singing Verdi and Puccini. She was recently seen in the title role of Aïda with Canadian Opera Company, returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Tosca and Leonora (Il Trovatore) and sings Elena (I Vespri Sicilliani) at the Teatro Regio di Torino. Mark Delavan sings many of the great dramatic baritone roles and this season is no different with appearances as Iago (Otello) at Opera Company of Philadelphia, the role of Jupiter (Der Liebe der Danae) at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and later this season he sings Wotan in San Francisco Opera’s Ring Cycle.
Rounding out the cast is Lyric Opera of Chicago debutante Stephanie Blythe who will intone Ulrica before returning to Lyric Opera as Katisha in The Mikado. Her roles encompass everything in the mezzo-soprano realm from Isabella (L’Italiana in Aligeri) to Dalia (Samson et Dalia) to the Ring Cycle’s Fricka and everything in between. She is in demand in all the great opera houses. Singing the role of Oscar the page is petite dynamo coloratura soprano Kathleen Kim. The Ryan Opera Center graduate also appears as Madame Mao (Nixon in China) and Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos) with the Metropolitan Opera, Poppea (Agrippina) with Boston Lyric Opera and sings Melissa (Amadigi) at Central City Opera.
Bringing light humor to the Lyric will be Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado opening on December 6, 2010. Accompanying Stephanie Blythe will be bass-baritone James Morris who trades in Wagner for the title role. Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies, known for performances of Bach, Mozart and Handel, takes on the lovable Ko-Ko while soprano and Ryan Opera Center alum Andriana Chuchman, recently seen as the title role in Flora at the Spoleto Festival USA, sings Yum-Yum. British tenor Toby Spence makes his Lyric Opera debut as Nanki-Poo after impressive performances with the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Bavarian State Opera.
International star Deborah Voigt dons her cowgirl hat for Lyric Opera’s The Girl of the Golden West which opens January 22, 2011. 2010-2011 finds the soprano at Washington National Opera as Salome, then before bringing her Minnie (The Girl of the Golden West) to Lyric Opera, she will try it out at the Metropolitan Opera. Finally she ends the season in two polar opposite roleds: first as Brünnhilde in the Met’s Die Walküre and then in the title role of Annie Get Your Gun at Glimmerglass Opera.
Singing Dick Johnson is Italian tenor Marcello Giordani who will also sing in the Metropolitan Opera’s performances of The Girl of the Golden West. He will also appear as Rodolfo (La Bohème) at the Teatro Massimo Bellini, in Cliea’s rarely heard Adriana Lecouvreur as Maurizio at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, in concert with Opera Orchestra of New York in L’Africaine as Vasco de Gama and later as Cavaradossi (Tosca) at both the Bayerische Staatsoper and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
Italian baritone Marco Vratogna makes his Lyric Opera debut as Sheriff Jack Rance. This exciting singer’s career is in high gear with future engagements including Amonasro (Aïda) at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and San Francisco Opera, Ezio (Attila) at La Scala and Seattle Opera and Renato (Un Ballo in Maschera) at Dresden Semperoper.
Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin opens February 11, 2011. South African tenor Johan Botha known for his expressive and elegant singing combined with sheer vocal power sings the title character. His triumphs have included performances as the Metropolitan Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Opera Australia. American soprano Emily Magee, whose career is mainly based in Europe, returns to the Lyric Opera where she was once a member of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists (now the Ryan Opera Center) to sing Elsa. Her 2010-2011 season includes appearances as Tosca and Minnie (The Girl of the Golden West) at the Opernhaus Zürich and Salome with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Osterfestspiele Salzburg. Singing two performances as Elsa on March 5 and 8, 2011 is aptly named soprano Amber Wagner (winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a recent Ryan Opera Center graduate.) She spends the season at Lyric Opera covering the other performances of Elsa and Amelia (Un Ballo in Maschera.)
Bavarian mezzo-soprano Michaela Schuster makes her Lyric Opera debut as Ortrud. Her appearances this season include Venus (Tannhäuser) at the Wiener Staatsoper and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Princess di Bouillon (Adriana Lecouvreur) at Covent Garden. Singing Telramund is American bass-baritone Greer Grimsley who is also known for his portrayal of Wotan in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. German bass Georg Zeppenfeld makes his Lyric Opera debut as King Henry. He has been an active presence at the Dresden Semperoper, the Nationaltheater Mannheim, the Metropolitan Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin. American baritone Lester Lynch, known for his portrayal of Verdi and Porgy and Crown in Porgy and Bess throughout the United States sings the Herald.
Lyric Opera of Chicago brings its season to an end with Handel’s Hercules opening March 4, 2011 and starring bass-baritone Eric Owens in the title role. His recent performances include the title role of Porgy (Porgy and Bess) with Washington National Opera and his critically-acclaimed Alberich in the Metropolitan Opera’s current Die Walküre. British mezzo-soprano Alice Coote sings Dejanira after appearances as Hansel (Hansel and Gretel) at the Metropolitan Opera, Charlotte (Werther) at San Francisco Opera and the Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos) at the Canadian Opera Company. David Daniels returns to Lyric Opera as Lichas and tenor Richard Croft sings Hyllus. Making her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut is British soprano Lucy Crowe who sings Iole. The soprano is a Mozart and Handel specialist and comes to Lyric after performances as Dorinda (Orlando) with Opera de Lille.
Lyric Opera of Chicago celebrates great singers by offering them fabulous productions, a world-class orchestra and one of the most enthusiastic audiences in all of opera. Its 56th season is one not to be missed.