Chicago Opera Theater to offer a shorter but promising 2017-18 season

Tue Apr 04, 2017 at 6:00 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Patricia Racette will star in Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Consul" in Chicago Opera Theater's 2017-18 season. Photo: Dario Acosta
Patricia Racette will star in Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Consul” in Chicago Opera Theater’s 2017-18 season. Photo: Dario Acosta

After expanding this season, Chicago Opera Theater will revert to its standard three-opera lineup in 2017-18–a disappointing step backward after the most ambitious season in the company’s history.

Still, COT’s transitional 17-18 season–jointly assembled by outgoing artistic director Andreas Mitisek and new executive director Douglas Clayton–looks to be a promising one, offering two American operas, one classic, one contemporary.

COT will open its 44th season with Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul, beginning November 4. Patricia Racette stars as Magda Sorel, whose attempts to leave an authoritarian country with her family run up against a faceless and malign government bureaucracy leading to tragedy. 

The Consul is one of the true masterworks of American opera and has not been seen on a professional local stage since Lyric Opera’s sole production in 1996. In an age of renewed international tensions and concerns about privacy, Menotti’s 1950s’ Cold War drama seems more timely than ever. Kristof Van Grysperre conducts in a new coproduction directed by Mitisek with Long Beach Opera.

Kevin Puts’ Elizabeth Cree is up next, based upon Peter Ackroyd’s novella about a grisly murder in Victorian London and subsequent trial. The new opera opens February 10, 2018, with casting and conductor TBA. Ominous sign: Elizabeth Cree will be directed by David Schweizer, who was responsible for COT’s infamous 2013 staging of Verdi’s Joan of Arc.

The season will close with a double bill of extremely rare Donizetti, beginning April 14. The bel canto master’s first opera, Il Pigmalione, will share the evening with Rita, one of his final operas. Casting here is also TBA, with Francesco Milioto conducting and Amy Hutchison directing.

All productions will be presented at the Studebaker Theatre, which has served COT well this season and appears to have become its new home.

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One Response to “Chicago Opera Theater to offer a shorter but promising 2017-18 season”

  1. Posted Apr 04, 2017 at 6:45 pm by Cianne

    I understand why COT has left the Harris, but I will miss it because the sightlines are much better there than in the Studebaker.

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