Lyric Opera trims down 2021-22 season; announces Joffrey lineup

Wed May 19, 2021 at 1:00 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Ana Maria Martinez stars in Florencia en el Amazonas in Lyric Opera’s 2021-22 season. Photo: Lynn Lane/Houston Grand Opera

Lyric Opera of Chicago will return to live performances this fall mixing favorites with contemporary works in its 67th season. Most of the company’s 2021-22 repertoire was announced last fall.

Yet the biggest news went unmentioned, at least in the distributed press release for today’s announcement at the Civic Opera House: Lyric Opera is cutting its season from eight productions to six—plus one off-site chamber work. That 25% reduction marks the fewest number of operas performed on the company’s main stage in memory.

A Lyric spokeswoman said that the chopped lineup was due to “safety and budget restraints” and is only for this coming season. She said the company “has the intention” to return to eight main-stage productions in 2022-23.

In related news, the company has no update on the status of Anthony Freud’s contract as general director, president and CEO, which is up in October.

Of the two newly added items to next season, the first will be Donizetti’s comedy L’elisir d’amore opening September 26. Charles Castronovo is the besotted Nemorino with Ailyn Perez as Adina, the object of his affections. Kyle Ketelsen is the traveling salesman Dulcamara with Joshua Hopkins as Nemorino’s rival Belcore. Music director Enrique Mazzola conducts in a production by Robert Innes Hopkins.

Rounding out the Italian rep is Puccini’s Tosca, opening March 12, 2022. The fast-rising soprano Michelle Bradley makes her company debut as the title diva with Russell Thomas as her doomed lover Cavaradossi and Fabian Veloz as Scarpia. Eun Sun Kim, the incoming music director of San Francisco Opera this summer, conducts in the venerable Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production.

As previously announced, the season will open with Verdi’s Macbeth—earlier than usual on September 17. Luca Salsi, who tackled the title role in Riccardo Muti’s memorable Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert performance in 2013, portrays the Scottish throne usurper, with Sondra Radvanovsky as the bloodthirsty Lady Macbeth. Joshua Guerrero is Macduff and Christian Van Horn, Banquo. Mazzola kicks off his belated inaugural season as music director, conducting in a new David McVicar-John Macfarlane production.

Mozart’s Magic Flute returns November 3—not in Lyric’s suburban back-porch version of 2016 but in the well-traveled silent-movie staging by Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade. Pevel Petrov is Tamino with Ying Fang as Pamina, Lila Duffy as the Queen of the Night and Huw Montague Rendall as Papageno. Conductor is TBA.

Daniel Catán’s acclaimed and widely performed Florencia en el Amazonas finally sees its Chicago debut beginning November 13. (Chicago Opera Theater presented the local premiere of the Mexican composer’s La hija de Rappaccini last month.) Ana Maria Martinez as Florencia leads a cast that includes Gabrielle Reyes, Mario Rojas, Deborah Nansteel and Levi Hernandez. Jordan de Souza conducts in the original Houston Grand Opera production.

Opening January 22 is Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up. Premiered in Washington DC to strong reviews, the story tells a tale of hard-scrabble Nebraska homesteaders. Mazzoli’s chamber opera will be presented at the Goodman Theatre, with Mazzola conducting. Cast is TBA in this opera’s local debut.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones, premiered at Opera Theater of St. Louis in 2019, will also be heard in its Chicago premiere, opening March 24. Terrence Blanchard’s coming-of-age opera is based on the memoir of the same name by New York Times columnist Charles Blow. The cast includes Latonia Moore, Jacqueline Echols, Will Liverman, Chauncey Packer and Christopher Kenney. Daniela Candillari conducts.

Sir Andrew Davis will conduct a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on April 1.

As of today, the company is planning to require audience members to be both masked and socially distanced—though with public restrictions being lifted on an almost daily basis, it’s likely that opera performances will be back to normal by September. Let’s hope so because otherwise Lyric plans to cut all its operas to a total running time of 2.5 hours including intermission.

Streams will be recorded of all operas but only made available to ticket-holders who are leery of returning in person and not to the public at large.

Subscriptions go on sale 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Single tickets will go on sale in late July.


The company also announced the 2021-22 season for the Joffrey Ballet. Joffrey’s first season in the Civc Opera House was to have taken place this past season but was delayed due to the pandemic.

The Joffrey season will include the world premiere of Cathy Marston’s Of Mice and Men; the Joffrey premiere of George Balanchine’s Serenade; Nicolas Blanc’s Under the Trees’ Voices and Yoshihisa Arai’s Boléro. The season will also include Chanel DaSilva’s Swing Low, Yuri Possokhov’s Don Quixote and Christopher Wheeldon’s Nutcracker

For ticketing, dates and more information go to 

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