Freud to depart Lyric Opera two years early at end of this season

Wed Sep 13, 2023 at 3:59 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Anthony Freud has been Lyric Opera general director since 2011. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Anthony Freud will depart Lyric Opera at the end of the 2023-24 season, two years earlier than his current contract calls for.

Freud, 65, will work in his current role as general director, president and CEO until next summer at which time he will retire and return to live in the UK with his husband, Colin Ure.

“Having been a general director for 30 years leading opera companies on both sides of the Atlantic, with the last 13 wonderful years at Lyric, I have made the personal decision to retire in summer 2024,” said Freud in a statement released by the company. “Working with Lyric has, for me, been the honor and thrill of a lifetime.”

A spokesperson for the company said Freud’s decision to retire was the reason for his current contract ending two years earlier than scheduled.

Freud has become a controversial figure over his 13-year tenure at the Chicago company, presiding over what many longtime observers view as a period of artistic decline and crucial loss of mission for a company that once held status as one of the three leading opera companies in the country.

“During Anthony’s tenure, Lyric has seen tremendous artistic growth and amazing firsts,” said board chair Sylvia Neil. ”Thanks to Anthony’s leadership and hard work, Lyric enhanced its national and international leadership in the field and stands out as an indispensable part of the cultural and civic fabric of Chicago.”

Lyric’s 2023-24 season opens September 23 with Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman.

Posted in News

13 Responses to “Freud to depart Lyric Opera two years early at end of this season”

  1. Posted Sep 13, 2023 at 6:17 pm by John Adams

    Thank God! It is about time.

  2. Posted Sep 13, 2023 at 7:32 pm by Anne-Marie

    Finally! This comes a few years too late after the artistic quality of the Lyric Opera has suffered a steep decline.

  3. Posted Sep 13, 2023 at 8:50 pm by Rebecca

    I hope you’re happy.

  4. Posted Sep 13, 2023 at 9:15 pm by James Weiss

    “Tremendous artistic growth.” Is she delusional? Lyric went from being the 2nd greatest American opera company to no longer even being in the conversation.

    Hallelujah he’s gone. But is there any real hope that anything will get better? That board is clueless.

  5. Posted Sep 13, 2023 at 9:17 pm by Dave

    Thank God.
    I might resubscribe to the Lyric

    I only hope it is not too late to save the Lyric Opera.
    The quality of the company and its productions have declined seriously during his tenure.

  6. Posted Sep 14, 2023 at 12:13 pm by Peg Ryan

    Thank God! All but destroyed Lyric Opera. Hopefully someone can be found to bring Lyric Opera back to the magnificent company it once was. Fire that clueless board. I may yet become a subscriber again.

  7. Posted Sep 14, 2023 at 5:31 pm by Robert Prindle

    It’s doubtful anyone with the company will lament his departure. What’s concerning is the comment from Neil—-“tremendous artistic growth”. The statement is almost delusional.

    The company barely did 30+ OPERA performances last year and again this year of 6 operas. Before Freud (and BOD) a relatively few years before the company did 8 productions (ALL operas NOT musicals) with 80+ performances. Lyric has essentially been eviscerated by this leadership.

    Last year, and now, the company resorted to HOT TIX. Some future performances are less than half sold. And the replacement? One hopes they won’t seek out a fading singer who needs a place to land!

  8. Posted Sep 15, 2023 at 8:27 am by Richard Tan

    I’m no fan of Anthony Freud’s, but let’s not forget that Lyric Opera’s steep decline started during the William Mason tenure, with its preference for unimaginative and stultifyingly “safe” choices.

    Remember those years? I was bored silly then, I’m still bored silly now, and prefer to travel far away for opera.

  9. Posted Sep 15, 2023 at 1:58 pm by Philip Kraus

    I doubt highly that he decided to voluntarily retire. I suspect with declining subscriptions, number of productions and performances, and the number of questionable productions that the board was smart enough to see the writing on the wall and ask him to leave with some dignity rather that create a scandal.

    At least during the Krainik and Mason years there was real international star power. Unfortunately, Freud turned the Lyric into another regional American company like Houston and Dallas. Hopefully his successor will be able to reverse the decline. Such a shame!

  10. Posted Sep 16, 2023 at 11:50 am by Fraud Alert

    Let’s hope that the job will go to someone who is immensely qualified next time around. My concern is that a search will not take place at all and that an announcement will be made after the New Year that Renée Fleming is the new General Director of The Lyric Opera of Chicago. A position I suspect she has been groomed for since she became “The Face of the Lyric”.

    She has been nothing more than a financial burden to the company for years. Under Freud the company has been reduced to a Musical Theater venue and the loss of the position as one of America’s top five five opera houses. Let us pray it does not become the House of Fleming.

  11. Posted Sep 18, 2023 at 5:48 pm by John

    This has been the lowest point of the Lyric’s history. Thank God this man is leaving! Let’s hope there’s enough knowledge and spirit left to recreate the great company that used to be present in his wonderful city!

  12. Posted Sep 27, 2023 at 8:34 am by Neil

    Among other failings, Freud and his policies and personnel destroyed the wonderful education department created by Al Glasser, including the outstanding volunteer community lecture corps.

  13. Posted Nov 07, 2023 at 10:15 am by Giselle

    For the first time, someone in Lyric Opera showed stories about the so-called “minorities” in the United States, including our voices and stories in the program and welcoming the Latino and African American communities not only to be spectators but protagonists. For the comments here (and some reactions in the Opera House), this also has something to do with the perception of some.

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