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Lyric announces plans to crown ‘Ring’ cycle, begin Verdi series and tap into ‘42nd Street’

Submitted by on Jan 24, 2019 – 6:53 pm

Designer’s concept image for the Lyric Opera’s new production of “Götterdämmerung.” (Courtesy Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Preview: The opera company’s 2019-20 season will bring three complete cycles of the “Ring” and a night of Donizetti queens.
By Nancy Malitz and Lawrence B. Johnson

The consummation of a four-year project to produce Wagner’s “Ring” cycle and the beginning of a “five- or six-year” exploration of early Verdi highlight plans for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2019-20 season, which also marks the 20th anniversary of Andrew Davis’ tenure as music director.

After annual creations of Wagner’s “Das Rheingold,” “Die Walküre” and “Siegfried,” the Lyric will cap the “Ring” cycle with “Götterdämmerung” in April 2020, then pull the whole enterprise together with three turns through the complete tetralogy, also in April. Mounting the “Ring 2020” cycle is expected to draw international crowds for weeklong total immersions.

The Lyric will present Verdi’s “Luisa Miller” in the San Francisco Opera production. (Cory Weaver photo)

The Verdi retrospective begins with “Luisa Miller,” his 1849 opera about tragic young lovers destroyed by class conflict, jealous intrigue and family squabbles. While Davis and general director Anthony Freud were noncommittal about specific works that might be staged, other early Verdi operas — on a considerable list of works preceding “Rigoletto” — include the likes of “Nabucco,” “I lombardi alla prima crociata,” “Ernani,” “Atilla” and “Macbeth.”

In light of the massive “Ring” venture, Lyric will reduce its usual eight productions to seven, but will spotlight bel canto soprano Sondra Radvanovsky in grand finales from three Donizetti operas about English queens: “Anna Bolena,” “Maria Stuarda,” and “Roberto Devereux.” There will be three performances of the “Three Queens” program – Dec. 1, 4,  and 7.

On tap for the Lyric’s annual spring musical in 2020 is the classic “42nd Street.” Freud characterized the show as “a gorgeous new-to-Chicago production from the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris that will have our audiences tap-dancing their way out of the theater.”

Notable new faces at the Lyric will include:

  • Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov as the famous lothario Don Giovanni, and American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Donna Anna, his first victim in Mozart’s Don Juan opera
  • Nicole Paiement, a female conductor on the rise, will be in the pit as bass-baritone Ryan McKinny portrays death-row inmate Joseph De Rocher:in Jake Heggie’s operatic remake of the story and film “Dead Man Walking”
  • Composer Jeanine Tesori and director Tazewell Thompson (who also wrote the libretto) of “Blue,” bringing their opera about a politically active teenager and his policeman father

Here’s a quick list of the shows in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2019-20 season (see below for casting and production details):

Scene from Jake Haggie’s “Dead Man Walking,” in the Houston Opera production to be seen on the Lyric stage. (Felix Sanchez)

Additional special performances of the 2019-20 Lyric Opera season include a December semi-staged event, “The Three Queens,” featuring soprano Sondra Radvanovsky playing characters that have become her bel canto specialty – Ann Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth. She’ll perform the finales of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena,” “Maria Stuarda” and “Roberto Devereux” in costume, with the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus..

And the legendary Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel will return to the Lyric for the first time in 15 years in February of 2020 for a recital.Terfel has created many roles at the Lyric in the past, including Figaro, Don Giovanni, Falstaff, and Sweeney Todd.

Call 312-827-5600 to purchase subscription tickets, or visit lyricopera.org beginning Jan. 25.

Show by show details of the 2019-20 season

The Lyric will revive its production of Rossini’s ever-popular comedy “The Barber of Seville.” (Robert Kusel)

“The Barber of Seville” (Il barbiere di Siviglia) by Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868)
8 performances, Sept. 28 – Oct. 27, 2019
Sung in Italian with projected English translations
Original Lyric Production

Irrepressible Rosina refuses to marry her pompous old guardian. A bold young count hopes to win Rosina for himself, but how? Leave it to the resourceful rascal Figaro to get the sweethearts together with a series of slapstick schemes

Conductor: Andrew Davis
Director: Rob Ashford
Set Designer: Scott Pask

“Luisa Miller” by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
6 performances, Oct. 12 – Oct. 31, 2019
Sung in Italian with projected English translations
New-to-Chicago Production, owned by San Francisco Opera

Luisa loves Rodolfo, the son of a ruthless, unethical nobleman whom Luisa’s father loathes. It’s a feast of atar-crossed love and violent jealousy. .

Conductor: Enrique Mazzola
Director: Francesca Zambello
Set Designer: Michael Yeargan

“Dead Man Walking” by Jake Heggie (composer, b.1961) and Terrence McNally
(librettist, b.1938)
6 performances, Nov. 2 – Nov. 22, 2019
Sung in English with projected English texts
Lyric Premiere & New-to-Chicago Production

A young couple is brutally killed, and the convicted murderer, Joseph De Rocher, sits on death row with Sister Helen Prejean as spiritual adviser. Based on the novel by Sister Helen.

Conductor: Nicole Paiement
Director: Leonard Foglia
Set Designer: Michael McGarty

Director Robert Falls’ take on Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” will be revisited at the Lyric next season. (Todd Rosenberg)

“Don Giovanni” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
9 performances, Nov. 14 – Dec. 8, 2019
Sung in Italian with projected English translations
Original Lyric Production

An irresistible libertine who lives only for his own pleasure, Don Giovanni is the quintessential anti-hero in Mozart’s comedy of seduction. Giovanni is assisted his frustrated servant Leporello as he variously evades and pursues the beauties who catch his eye.

  • Don Giovanni: Ildar Abdrazakov
  • Donna Anna: Rachel Willis-Sørensen
  • Donna Elvira: Amanda Majeski
  • Zerlina: Ying Fang
  • Don Ottavio: Ben Bliss
  • Leporello: Matthew Rose
  • Masetto: Brandon Cedel
  • Commendatore: Mika Kares

Conductor: James Gaffigan
Director: Robert Falls
Set Designer: Walt Spangler

Sondra Radvanovsky as Anna Bolena (Cade Martin, Washington National Opera)

Semi-Staged Concert: “The Three Queens” starring Sondra Radvanovsky
Finales of “Anna Bolena,” “Maria Stuarda,” and “Roberto Devereux” by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
3 performances, Dec. 1 – 7, 2019
Sung in Italian with projected English translations

Three extraordinary historical women grace Donizetti’s “Three Queens” trilogy: passionate Anne Boleyn, proud Mary Stuart, and mighty Queen Elizabeth I. Each is a stupendous role for a true singing actress, and Lyric favorite Sondra Radvanovsky commanded all three of these roles
in a single season at the Metropolitan Opera. She’ll sing the finales of all three operas in semi-staged performances featuring the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus, along with artists from the Ryan Opera Center.

Conductor: Riccardo Frizza
Director: Matthew Ozawa
Chorus Master: Michael Black

“Madama Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
10 performances, Feb. 6 – March 8, 2020
Sung in Italian with projected English translations
Co-production of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Grand Théâtre de Genève.

An enchanting geisha, Cio-Cio-San, falls in love with and marries an American naval lieutenant, a union that ultimately leads to total disaster for the bride.

  • Cio-Cio-San: Ana María Martínez, Lianna Haroutounian (March 4, 7)
  • B. F. Pinkerton: Brian Jagde; Brandon Jovanovich (March 4, 7)
  • Suzuki: Deborah Nansteel
  • Sharpless: Anthony Clark Evans
  • Goro: Rudell Rosel

Conductor: Henrik Nánási
Original Director: Michael Grandage
Revival Director: Louisa Muller
Set and Costume Designer: Christopher Oram

A hopeless gambler wagers all in ‘The Queen of Spades’ (Felix Sanchez)

“The Queen of Spades” (Pikovaya Dama) by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
5 performances, Feb. 15 – March 1, 2020
Sung in Russian with projected English translations
Production originated at Welsh National Opera, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Den Norske Opera, and Canadian Opera Company.

Tchaikovsky’s brooding thriller is a tour de force for a great tenor. He plays the terrifyingly obsessed Gherman, an unhappy soldier desperate to know a secret hidden by an aging countess – the mystery of winning at cards.

  • Gherman: Brandon Jovanovich
  • Lisa: Sondra Radvanovsky
  • Countess: Jane Henschel
  • Polina: Elizabeth DeShong
  • Prince Yeletsky: Lucas Meachem
  • Tomsky: Samuel Youn
  • Tchekalinsky: Kyle van SchoonhovenG
  • Governess: Jill Grove

Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis
Original Director: Richard Jones
Revival Director: Benjamin Davis
Set and Costume Designer: John Macfarlane

“Götterdämmerung” (Twilight of the Gods) by Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
2 performances, April 4 and 11, 2020
Sung in German with projected English translations
New Lyric Opera production

The tragedy of the warrior-maiden Brünnhilde, her beloved hero Siegfried, and all the gods, brings nothing less than the end of one world, the beginning of a new one, and the ultimate triumph of love over evil.

  • Brünnhilde: Christine Goerke
  • Siegfried: Burkhard Fritz
  • Waltraute: Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
  • Hagen: Stephen Milling
  • Gunther: Brian Mulligan
  • Gutrune: Mary Elizabeth Williams
  • First Norn: Ronnita Miller
  • Second Norn: Catherine Martin
  • Third Norn: Laura Wilde
  • Woglinde: Diana Newman
  • Wellgunde: Annie Rosen
  • Flosshilde: Lindsay Ammann

Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis
Director: David Pountney
Original Set Designer: Johan Engels

The gods assemble in Lyric’s production ‘Das Rheingold.’ (Todd Rosenberg)

2020 RING CYCLE: “The Ring of the Nibelung” (Der Ring des Nibelungen)
by Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

Three complete cycles:
April 13, 14, 16, 18
April 20, 21, 23, 25
April 27, 29, May 1, 3

Sung in German with projected English translations
Subscribers to the 2019/20 Season have advance ordering priority for Lyric’s internationally acclaimed new Ring cycle through April 1.

“Das Rheingold” (The Rhine Gold)
Three performances, April 13, 20, 27, 2020
Same conductor and production team as “Götterdämmerung” above.

  • Wotan: Eric Owens
  • Alberich: Samuel Youn
  • Loge: Stefan Margita; Robert Brubaker (April 27)
  • Fricka: Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
  • Mime: Matthias Klink
  • Freia: Laura Wilde
  • Froh: Brandon Jovanovich
  • Donner: Brian Mulligan
  • Woglinde: Diana Newman
  • Wellgunde: Annie Rosen
  • Flosshilde: Lindsay Amman
  • Erda: Ronnita Miller
  • Fasolt: Henning von Schulman
  • Fafner: Soloman Howard

Brünnhilde is put to sleep by Wotan in Lyric’s production of ‘Die Walküre.’ (Cory Weaver)

“Die Walküre” (The Valkyrie)
Three performances, April 14, 21, 29, 2020
Same conductor and production team as “Götterdämmerung” above.

  • Brünnhilde: Christine Goerke
  • Wotan: Eric Owens
  • Sieglinde: Elisabet Strid; Laura Wilde° (April 29)
  • Siegmund: Brandon Jovanovich
  • Fricka: Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
  • Hunding: Stephen Milling
  • Helmwige: Alexandra LoBianco
  • Ortlinde: Laura Wilde° TBA (April 29)
  • Waltraute: Catherine Martin
  • Rossweisse: Lindsay Ammann
  • Grimgerde: Krysty Swann

Three performances, April 16, 23, May 1, 2020
Same conductor and production team as “Götterdämmerung” above

  • Siegfried: Burkhard Fritz
  • Brünnhilde: Christine Goerke
  • The Wanderer (Wotan): Eric Owens
  • Alberich: Samuel Youn
  • Erda: Ronnita Miller
  • Woodbird: Diana Newman
  • Mime: Matthias Klink
  • Fafner: Soloman Howard

“Götterdämmerung” (Twilight of the Gods)
Three performances, April 18, 25, May 3, 2020
Same cast, conductor, and production team as above

Curtain times for Lyric’s 2020 RING Cycle

Cycle 1: Mon Apr 13/7:30pm, Tue Apr 14/6pm, Thu Apr 16/6pm , Sat Apr 18/5:30pm
Cycle 2: Mon Apr 20/7:30pm, Tue Apr 21/6pm, Thu Apr 23/6pm, Sat Apr 25/5:30pm

Cycle 3: Mon Apr 27/2pm, Wed Apr 29/2pm, Fri May 1/2pm, Sun May 3/2:30pm

Out-of-town Ring patrons will have access to specially priced accommodations at a variety of hotels. For more information please visit lyricopera.org/RING.

The Lyric’s production of ’42nd Street’ comes from Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet (Marie-Noëlle Robert)

“42nd Street” by Harry Warren (1893-1981) and Al Dubin (1891-1945)
May 29 – June 21, 2020
Production created by the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris.

The backstage musical comedy classic, “42nd Street” is the song-and-dance fable of Broadway with an American Dream story. It contains some of the greatest songs ever written, such as “We’re In The Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffe Off To Buffalo,” “Dames,” “I Only
Have Eyes For You,” and of course, “42nd Street.” A starry-eyed young dancer becomes a star.

Director and Choreographer: Stephen Mear
Set and Costume Designer: Peter McKintosh

The conductor and cast for 42nd Street will be announced at a later date.

“Blue” by Jeanine Tesori (composer, b. 1961) and Tazewell Thompson (librettist, b. 1948)
Six performances June 19 – 28, 2020, at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier
Performed in English with projected English texts
“Blue” is a coproduction of Lyric Opera Chicago, Glimmerglass Opera, and Washington National Opera.

“Blue” brings audiences into the emotional epicenter of an African-American family in which the father is a police offcer and the son is a politically active teenager. When the son is killed by police, his death brings to reality the mother’s worst fear, and ignites anger and devastation in
the father.

Director: Tazewell Thompson
Scenic Designer: Donald Eastman

The conductor and cast for Blue will be announced at a later date.

Bryn Terfel in recital
Sunday, February 2, 2020, 2pm Lyric Opera House

Terfel made his American debut as Donner in Lyric’s 1992 “Das Rheingold,” returning as Mozart’s Figaro, Leporello, and Don Giovanni; Verdi’s Falstaff; Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd; and Strauss’s John the Baptist in subsequent seasons.

Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park
Friday, September 6, 2019, 7:30pm, Jay Pritzker Pavilion

A free concert under the stars features artists of Lyric’s new season, along with the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus and members of the Ryan Opera Center. Lyric’s music director Sir Andrew Davis will conduct.