A tragic expedition and a world premiere on tap in COT’s 2019-20 season

Wed Mar 13, 2019 at 5:30 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Joby Talbot’s “Everest” will open Chicago Opera Theater’s 2019-20 season at the Harris Theater. Photo: Trudie Lee / Calgary Opera

Chicago Opera Theater announced its 2019-20 season Wednesday evening, one that will bring four works new to Chicago, including the company’s second commissioned world premiere.

The season will open November 16-17 at the Harris Theater with a double bill. Everest, by Joby Talbot with a libretto by Gene Scheer, is a 70-minute adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book Into Thin Air about an ill-fated 1996 Mount Everest expedition. The 2015 work will be coupled with Rachmaninoff’s rarely heard one-act opera, Aleko.

The world premiere of Freedom Ride by Dan Shore will take place February 8-16 at the Studebaker Theater. Commissioned by COT, the opera is set in New Orleans during the summer of 1961, when the Congress of Racial Equality was seeking volunteer riders to Jackson to help combat segregation. The Chicago Sinfonietta will be in the pit for these performances.

The company downsizes for its final work, Soldier Songs, presented May 15-17 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Nathan Gunn stars in David T. Little’s monodrama (with film work by Bill Morrison), which examines the life of an American soldier using tales from several personal stories.

COT music director Lidiya Yankovskaya will conduct all three productions. The company also announced that Matthew Recio has been named COT’s second Vanguard Emerging Opera Composer, joining Stacy Garrop, who is in her second and final year of the program.

Subscriptions to Chicago Opera Theater’s 2019-2020 season are now on sale. Call 312-704-8414 or go to cot.org.

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to “A tragic expedition and a world premiere on tap in COT’s 2019-20 season”

  1. Posted Mar 14, 2019 at 11:07 am by Bobbymcc

    Okay, call me old and crotchety (go ahead)… but seeing the titles of the 2019-2020 season, I’m not exactly sure I’m pleased with the direction that COT is taking over the last few years.

    Looking at their production history, as well as being a patron/fan for a long time, COT’s strength has been their mission to present the less-produced repertoire. Whereas a season could see at most one contemporary work in the past, now that appears to be all their offerings (the short Aleko notwithstanding). And, well, plots with a “woke” bent seem to be picked for commissions, I guess to reflect the zeitgeist.

    Certainly admirable, but I’m going to miss the discoveries COT offered from the decades and centuries past.

  2. Posted Apr 04, 2019 at 4:08 pm by Jamesbck

    I could not agree more, Bobbymcc. I used to love COT. Some of its Mozart, Monteverdi, Handel, and Britten productions in the Brian Dickie years were magnificent, fresh, and new. When he left, COT went badly off the rails, artistically and financially, and has yet to recover. The execrable Fairy Queen from a couple years ago was, for me, its nadir.

    Sadly, now, COT simply presents one uninteresting and mediocre new production after another, with no pretense of doing what it used to do so well: find obscure operas from the past and bring them to life, with an occasional new opera mixed in. Whatever COT is trying to do over the past few seasons, it is not working. I hope they recover their senses soon, though the just-announced season gives me no hope that that is happening.

    Luckily, we have Haymarket, Newberry Consort, and some wonderful companies from out of town to present worthwhile productions.

Leave a Comment