Lyric Opera cancels all fall performances in wake of pandemic

Tue Jun 16, 2020 at 3:06 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

The U.S. premiere of George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence has fallen victim to Lyric Opera’s cancelled fall season. Photo: Steven Cummiskey/ROH

Lyric Opera has cancelled all of its fall performances due to lingering public health concerns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the impossibility of meeting Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s five-phase strictures that would allow large theaters to reopen for rehearsals in time for the fall season.

President and CEO Anthony Freud cited “public health policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic” as the primary reason for cancelling the fall productions.

“We have come to this decision based on the best information currently available,” said Freud in a released statement. “In this uncertain environment, we must put the safety of our guests, artists, and company first, respecting the policies implemented by the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. As we move through our state’s five-phase plan of reopening, performing arts companies on Lyric’s scale are still slated to be part of the final phase. Operating on anything close to a normal basis until that phase is reached is simply not possible.”

Zeroing out the entire autumn lineup of Lyric Opera’s 2020-21 season through December 31 means cancelling half of the eight mainstage productions: Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci, Tosca, Attila and the U.S. premiere of George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence.

Lyric’s abrogated season, running from January through April 2021, will now consist of Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.

San Francisco Opera also announced Tuesday that it would cancel its entire fall schedule. The news from both companies follows the lead of the Metropolitan Opera, which did the same earlier this month.

In a small bit of good news, the renovation project for Lyric’s Ardis Krainik Theatre id continuing, and patrons will notice the new seating and hopefully improved sightlines when the company belatedly opens its season next January.

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