Lyric Opera to launch Ring, along with Berlioz, Bizet and bel canto in 2016-17 season

Thu Jan 14, 2016 at 1:16 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Christine Goerke will star as Cassandre in Berlioz's "Les Troyens" in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2016-17 season. Photo: Christian Steiner
Christine Goerke will star as Cassandre in Berlioz’s “Les Troyens” in the Lyric Opera’s 2016-17 season. Photo: Christian Steiner

The launch of a new Ring cycle, the first Chicago staging of Berlioz’s most epic work, a Bizet cornerstone, and two bel canto classics will all be on tap in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2016-17 season.

Lyric’s 62nd season–the second fully planned by general director Anthony Freud and music director Sir Andrew Davis–will open October 1 with Wagner’s Das Rheingold, the “prelude” to the company’s new Ring cycle, with Eric Owens making his role debut as Wotan. Apart from Stefan Margita as Loge and Rodell Rosel as Mime, the rest of the cast is new to Chicago: Samuel Youn as Alberich, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as Fricka, Tobias Kehrer as Fafner, Wilhelm Schwinghammer as Fasolt and Okka von der Damerau as Erda. Davis conducts the six performances with David Pountney directing this new production with original sets planned by the late Johan Engels and designed by Robert Innes Hopkins.

Next up is Donizetti’s bel canto favorite Lucia di Lammermoor, which opens October 15 with Albina Shagimuratova in the title role, Piotr Beczala as Edgardo, Quinn Kelsey as Enrico and Adrian Sampetrean as Raimondo. Conductor Enrique Mazzola makes his Chicago debut in a Graham Vick-Paul Brown production new to Chicago.

Chicago audiences will finally have the opportunity to experience Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens, which opens November 13. The composer’s sprawling five-act Trojan saga stars Christine Goerke as Cassandre, Sophie Koch as Didon, and Brandon Jovanovich as Enée, with Okka von der Damerau as Anna, Lucas Meachem as Chorébe and Christian Van Horn as Narbal. Davis conducts in a new production by Tim Albery and Tobias Hoheisel.

Massenet’s Don Quichotte will return to Lyric Opera after many years on November 19 with Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role of the windmill-tilting knight errant, with Clementine Maraine as Dulcinée and Nicola Alaimo as Sancho Panza. Davis conducts in a Ralph Funicello production from San Diego Opera.

Lyric will unveil its new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute December 10, which will replace the beloved but aged August Everding staging. Directed by Neil Armfield and designed by Dale Ferguson, the new Flute will premiere with Andrew Staples and Matthew Polenzani alternating in the role of Tamino, Christiane Karg as Pamina, Adam Plachetka as Papageno, Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, and Christof Fischesser as Sarastro. Rory Macdonald conducts.

Bellini’s Norma opens 2017, returning to the Lyric boards January 28 with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, Elizabeth DeShong as Adalgisa, Russell Thomas as Pollione and Andrea Silvestrelli as Oroveso. Riccardo Frizza makes his Lyric conducting debut in the “forestry” production by Kevin Newbury and David Korins.

Bizet’s Carmen will return in a double-cast production, starting February 11. Ekaterina Gubanova and Anita Rachvelishvili alternate in the title role of the gypsy temptress, both mezzos making their company debuts. Joseph Calleja and Brandon Jovanovich split tortured-hero assignments as the ill-fated Don Jose, with Eleanora Buratto as Micaela and Christian Van Horn as Escamillo. Harry Bicket and Ainars Rubikis share the conducting in a new David Rockwell production directed by Rob Ashford.

Mariusz Kwiecién will return to close the Lyric Opera season, starring in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, opening February 26. Ana Maria Martinez is Tatiana with Charles Castronovo as Lensky and Alisa Kolosova as Olga. Conductor Alejo Perez makes his company debut in the Robert Carsen-Michael Levine production from the Met.

The season was announced at the Civic Opera House Thursday morning, introduced by Anthony Freud and Andrew Davis.

In other 2017 events, Lyric will present Placido Domingo March 9 and 13 in a program that includes a fully staged Act II of Verdi’s La Traviata with the Spanish tenor-turned baritone as Germont. The subscriber appreciation night features Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens April 9, and there will be a recital by violinist Itzhak Perlman April 23.

American opera continues to go missing on the Lyric main stage, though the company will co-present the Chicago premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird by Daniel Schnyder March 24 and 26, 2017 in collaboration with the Harris Theater.

The company’s 2017 Broadway musical offering will be Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, presented April 28-May 21.

Lyric Opera 2016-17 season subscriptions go on sale Monday, February 1.; 312-827-5600.

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