Lyric Opera retrenches to largely populist fare in 2017-18 season

Tue Feb 07, 2017 at 2:00 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Albina Shagimuratova will star in Bellini's "I Puritani" in Lyric Opera's 2017-18 season. Photo: Pavel Vann
Albina Shagimuratova will star in Bellini’s “I Puritani” in Lyric Opera’s 2017-18 season. Photo: Pavel Vann

Following the current ambitious and adventurous Lyric Opera of Chicago season, the company will retrench to its conservative tradition in 2017-18 with the emphasis on populist fare and familiar singers.

The two most interesting productions have already been announced. Lyric will open its season September 23 with Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice in a coproduction with the Joffrey Ballet. Dmitry Korchak makes his company debut as Orphée, with Andriana Chuchman as Eurydice and Lauren Snouffer as Amor. Harry Bicket conducts in a new production by John Neumeier.

The company’s Ring cycle continues with Wagner’s Die Walküre running November 1-30. Christine Goerke and Brandon Jovanovich, both stars in last fall’s Les Troyens, will take the roles of Brunnhilde and Siegmund, with Elisabet Strid making her company debut as Sieglinde. Eric Owens returns as Wotan as does Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as Fricka, with Ain Anger in his company bow as Hunding. Andrew Davis conducts in a new production by David Pountney and Robert Innes Hopkins.

Rigoletto returns to the Lyric boards October 7 with Quinn Kelsey in the title role of the hunchback jester. Rosa Feola is Gilda, Matthew Polenzani is the Duke, and Alexander Tsymbalyuk, Sparafucile. Marco Armiliato conducts, with the Michael Yeargan production hailing from San Francisco Opera.

Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers opens November 19. Marina Rebeka is the priestess Leïla with Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien as best friends Nadir and Zurga vying for her affections. Andrea Silvestrelli is Nourabad and Davis conducts. The Zandra Rhodes production comes from San Diego Opera.

Beginning December 5, Puccini’s Turandot will return for an extended run through January. Amber Wagner stars as the title Chinese ice princess with Stefano La Colla in his Lyric debut as her determined suitor Calaf, and Maria Agresta and Janai Brugger splitting duties as the innocent Liù. Davis conducts in an Allen Klein-Bliss Hebert production from Florida Grand Opera.

The current season’s bel canto emphasis will continue with Bellini’s I Puritani, which opens February 4. Albina Shagimuratova–who won acclaim in Lyric’s Lucia di Lammermoor last fall–returns as the heroine Elvira with Lawrence Brownlee as Arturo and Anthony Clark Evans as Riccardo.  The Metropolitan Opera production is by Eric Einhorn and Ming Cho Lee. Enrique Mazzola, who made a most impressive house debut in Lucia will return to conduct.

Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte opens February 17. Ana Maria Martinez and Marianne Crebassa star as the sisters Fiordilgi and Dorabella with Antonio Poli and Joshua Hopkins as their mix-and-match lovers, Ferrando and Guglielmo. Elena Tsallagova as Despina and Alessandro Corbelli as Don Alfonso round out the cast. James Gaffigan makes his Lyric conducting debut in a John Cox-Robert Perdziola production from San Francisco Opera.

The season will close with Gounod’s Faust opening March 3. French tenor Benjamin Bernheim will make his company debut in the title role with Erin Wall as Marguerite and Christian Van Horn as Mephistopheles. Emmanuel Villaume conducts in a new Lyric production by Kevin Newbury and John Frame.

While American opera continues to go missing in action on Lyric’s mainstage, there is some compensation with the company’s non-subscription events. Lyric will continue its off-site series of chamber operas with Gregory Spears’ highly praised Fellow Travelers, to be presented at the Athenaeum Theater March 17-25. And there will be a concert marking the 100th birthday anniversary of Leonard Bernstein March 10, which will include his complete one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti.

Polish tenor Piotr Beczała will present a solo recital on February 25. And the 2018 spring musical will be Webber and Rice’s Jesus Christ, Superstar, opening April 27.; 312-827-5600.

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4 Responses to “Lyric Opera retrenches to largely populist fare in 2017-18 season”

  1. Posted Feb 07, 2017 at 7:54 pm by Donald Nathan

    Um….I can’t say I know anything about what sells (friends usually give me discount codes or freebies) BUT aren’t most of the casts Ryan Center alumni? And will people pay $299 or $349 for them? I enjoy getting reduced tickets but….

  2. Posted Feb 08, 2017 at 6:49 am by Laura

    The Ryan Opera Center is the best in the business, and has produced some of the greatest singers now currently appearing at major opera houses around the world. While it’s natural that Lyric would want to showcase these wonderful talents, it’s not as though they aren’t being hired anywhere else…

  3. Posted Feb 08, 2017 at 8:26 am by Jo Ann

    I am livid at the lack of women conductors (and directors)at Lyric. There seems to be no awareness that there are now a large number of women conductors who are getting rave reviews out there. I wish, Larry, that you would raise this issue in your writings. The discrimination is appalling.

  4. Posted Feb 08, 2017 at 8:41 pm by Matt M.

    Is the Lyric cutting costs with this season-long roster of who’s that?, who cares? and not-her-agains? Or do the world’s best singers either find the Lyric too hard to work with or worry that they’ll be crammed into yet another ill-conceived production? Please, Board of Directors, stop Freud before he kills another opera season in Chicago!

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