A trio of rarities, Italian favorites and the Ring continues in Lyric Opera’s 2018-19 season

Tue Feb 06, 2018 at 2:00 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Matthew Polenzani and Nadine Sierra in the Metropolitan Opera production of Mozart's "Idomeneo." Photo: Marty Sohl
Matthew Polenzani (pictured with Nadine Sierra) will sing the title role of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” in Lyric Opera’s 2018-19 season. Photo: Marty Sohl/ Metropolitan Opera

Two works new to Chicago, a popular tenor in a long-awaited Mozart role, and Italian favorites are on tap in Lyric Opera’s 2018-19 season.

The company’s 64th season, announced Tuesday morning at the Lyric Opera House, continues the trend of the Anthony Freud era, balancing a trio of rarities with box office-bait repertory. With some exceptions, the 2018-19 lineup is even less reliant on star names than recent seasons, with two virtually unknown artists cast in title roles.

Puccini’s evergreen La bohème will open the season October 6 in a new Richard Jones-Stewart Laing production (returning for two weeks in January). Maria Agresta (Liu in this season’s Turandot) will sing the doomed Mimi with Michael Fabiano making his company debut as Rodolfo. Danielle de Niese is Musetta with Zachary Nelson as Marcello. Domingo Hindoyan conducts.

Many have been waiting for the chance to hear Matthew Polenzani in the title role of Mozart’s Idomeneo, and next season will grant that wish (opening October 13). Erin Wall is Elettra with Janai Brugger as Ilia, Angela Brower (Lyric debut) as Idamante and David Portillo as Arbace. Andrew Davis conducts, with the Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production borrowed from the Met.

The third installment in Lyric’s Ring cycle opens November 3 with Wagner’s Siegfried. Burkhard Fritz makes his role (and Lyric) debut as the title hero with Matthias Klink as Mime (also company debut). Returning from previous Ring operas are Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde, Eric Owens as The Wanderer (aka Wotan), and Samuel Youn as Alberich. Andrew Davis conducts in the ongoing David Pountney production.

Verdian blood and thunder is up next with Il Trovatore opening November 17. Rising soprano Tamara Wilson will make her Lyric bow as Leonora as will George Petean as Di Luna. Russell Thomas is Manrico and Jamie Barton, Azucena. Marco Armiliato conducts in a revival of the familiar David McVicar production.

Massenet’s Cendrillon (Cinderella) will receive its belated Lyric Opera premiere, beginning December 1. Australian soprano Siobhan Stagg, makes her local debut in the title role with Alice Coote as the Prince. Davis conducts with the Laurent Pelly production coming from Santa Fe Opera.

Acclaimed Wagnerian soprano Nina Stemme makes her Chicago debut in the demanding title role of Strauss’s Elektra, opening February 2. Elza van den Heever is Chrysothemis, with Michaela Martens Klytemnestra and Iain Paterson Orest. Donald Runnicles conducts in his belated Lyric Opera debut, with a revival of the David McVicar production first seen at Lyric in 2012.

La traviata returns beginning February 16 in the Arin Arbus production that bowed in Chicago in 2013. Albina Shagimuratova, currently on stage in Lyric’s I Puritani, is Violetta, with Giorgio Berrugi (company debut) as Alfredo and Zeljko Lučić as Germont. Michael Christie will conduct in his Lyric pit debut.

After a seven-year absence, Handel opera will return to Lyric. Presented for the first time at the company, Ariodante will close the season (opening March 2). Alice Coote takes on the title role (her second assignment of the Lyric season) with Iesteyn Davies as Polinesso, Brenda Rae (debut) as Ginevra and Heidi Stober as Dalinda.  Harry Bicket conducts with a staging by someone named ULTZ.

Concerts include an Anna Netrebko recital December 2 and a gala concert March 23 with Renee Fleming marking the 25th anniversary of her Lyric debut. Ironically, for a company where American opera has been close to nonexistent on the main stage during her tenure as artistic advisor, Fleming’s debut was in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah.

Lyric has, however, mounted American chamber operas in its Lyric Unlimited series, and will do so again in 2019 with An American Dream by Jack Perla and Jessica Murphy Moo (opening March 15 and presented at the Harris Theater). The tale juxtaposes parallel tales of two women (one German-Jewish, the other Japanese-American) displaced from their homes during World War II. Cast and conductor are TBA.

The spring musical will be West Side Story, opening May 3, which will mark the Leonard Bernstein centennial. Cast is TBA.

Subscriptions go on sale 10 a.m. Wednesday. lyricopera.org; 312-827-5600.

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