Cher Public

Jesus Christ! Superstars?

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s General Director Anthony Freud and Music Director Sir Andrew Davis (joined by Creative Consultant Renée Fleming) announced today that the company’s 2017-2018 season will offer a winning combination of uninspired repertoire and soporific casting. 

Here’s just a taste:

New Production

Faust by Charles Gounod

Faust: Benjamin Bernheim
Marguerite: Erin Wall / Ana María Martínez
Méphistophélès: Christian Van Horn
Valentin: Edward Parks
Siébel: Annie Rosen
Marthe: Jill Grove

Conductor: Emmanuel Villaume
Director: Kevin Newbury

The whole dismal tale unfolds below.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2017/18 Season


New Coproduction (featuring The Joffrey Ballet)

Orphée et Eurydice by Christoph Gluck (1714 – 1787)

Seven performances, Sept. 23 – Oct. 15, 2017

In French with projected English translations


One of the most influential works in the history of opera, Orfeo edEurydice (1762) – presented at Lyric in its original Italian version most recently in 2005/06 – was revised significantly by Gluck for the Paris Opera in 1774. This version altered the role of Orpheus from alto castrato to tenor, while also adding a significant amount of ballet music to the score (including two celebrated scenes, the “Dance of the Furies” and the “Dance of the Blessed Spirits”). Familiar from Greek myths, the plot centers on the poet-musician Orphée (Orpheus), whose singing was so beautiful that it could charm the fierce guardians of the Underworld. After receiving encouragement from the god of love, Amour, Orphée travels to Hades to bring his dead wife, Eurydice, back to earth. Integral to the production will be the participation of TheJoffrey Ballet in the company’s first collaboration with Lyric.


Dmitry Korchak*
Harry Bicket
Andriana Chuchman?
John Neumeier*
Lauren Snouffer
Set/Costume/Lighting Design
John Neumeier*
Associate Set Designer
Heinrich Tröger*
Lighting Realization
Chris Maravich
Chorus Master
Michael Black

*Lyric Debut   ?Ryan Opera Center Alumna


Anthony Freud:  “Orphée et Eurydice requires artists of deep sensitivity and intelligence, both to produce it and to perform it. We’re thrilled that world-renowned choreographer John Neumeier – in a very exciting collaboration between Lyric and The Joffrey Ballet – will not only create the vital dance elements of this opera, but also direct and design it. Harry Bicket, who has already proven himself a superb interpreter of Gluck in Lyric’s previous production, will conduct. I know the marvelous Russian lyric tenor Dmitry Korchak will lavish on the role of Orphée all the beauty of sound, dazzling technique, and deep expressiveness it requires. Andriana Chuchman, one of our most successful Ryan Opera Center alumni of recent years, will return as Eurydice, and the delightful Lauren Snouffer will be back with us to sing Amour.”


Sir Andrew Davis: “Gluck’s version of the Orpheus myth is one of the most exquisite in the entire repertoire. We’ve produced it at Lyric before with great success, but not in the version that has Orpheus recast as a tenor (rather than male or female alto). There’s virtuosity in the music for the hero, as well as captivating ballet music, added to satisfy the expectations of Paris audiences. At the same time, all the musical and dramatic glory of the original version is retained, making for an unforgettably beautiful and profoundly moving experience.”   


A coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, and Staatsoper Hamburg.


New Lyric Opera coproduction of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydicegenerously made possible by The Monument Trust (UK), the Abbott Fund, Margot and Josef Lakonishok, the NIB Foundation, an Anonymous DonorJ.P. MorganThe Anne and Burt Kaplan FundBill and Orli Staley Foundation, and Liz Stiffel.



New-to-Chicago Production

Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901)

Eight performances, Oct. 7 – Nov. 3, 2017

In Italian with projected English translations

Rigoletto, Verdi’s masterpiece of 1851, presents a magnificent, deeply moving characterization of a hunchbacked court jester consumed by bitterness and revenge. Rigoletto is the father of Gilda, who is seduced and abandoned by the licentious Duke of Mantua.  Sparafucile is the assassin hired by Rigoletto to murder the Duke; Maddalena is Sparafucile’s seductive sister; and Count Monterone’s curse on Rigoletto initiates the drama of the opera.


Quinn Kelsey°
Marco Armiliato
Rosa Feola*
E. Loren Meeker
Matthew Polenzani°
Set Designer
Michael Yeargan
Alexander Tsymbalyuk*
Costume Designer
Constance Hoffman
Zanda Šv?de*
Lighting Designer
Chris Maravich
Todd Thomas
Chorus Master
Michael Black 

*Lyric Debut   °Ryan Opera Center Alumni


Anthony Freud: “It is a source of immense pride to all of us at Lyric that Quinn Kelsey, an alumnus of our Ryan Opera Center and one of today’s few true Verdi baritones, will return to lead the cast ofRigoletto. The title role has become his signature at major houses all over North America and Europe. His fellow Ryan Opera Center alumnus, Matthew Polenzani, one of the foremost tenors of our time, will be back with us after his recent triumph here as Tamino. These two Lyric favorites will be joined by Rosa Feola, an entrancing young Italian soprano, and by the charismatic Ukrainian bass Alexander Tsymbalyuk, in their Lyric debuts. I’m delighted that Marco Armiliato – a master of his native Italian repertoire – will return to conduct, and that E. Loren Meeker will create new direction within the beautiful production from San Francisco Opera.”


Sir Andrew Davis: “My conducting teacher in Italy, the legendary Franco Ferrara, once told me that Rigoletto was, in fact, the greatest of all Italian operas. Certainly its melodies are endlessly appealing (who doesn’t adore ‘La donna è mobile,’ ‘Caro nome,’ and the glorious quartet?), and the protagonist Rigoletto is one of the most monumentally dramatic and powerful characterizations in the history of opera.” 


Lyric Opera presentation of Verdi’s Rigoletto generously made possible by Julie and Roger BaskesHoward L. Gottlieb and Barbara Greis, and Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow. Production owned by San Francisco Opera.



New Production

Die Walküre by Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

Seven performances, Nov. 1 – Nov. 30, 2017

In German with projected English translations


The second opera of Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle, Die Walkürefocuses on the conflict between Wotan, king of the gods, and his mortal son, Siegmund, who has unwittingly fallen in love with his own twin, Sieglinde, the wife of the brutish Hunding. This arouses the wrath of Wotan’s wife, Fricka (the goddess of marriage), and the compassion of Wotan’s daughter, the warrior-maiden Brünnhilde. The turning point of the opera arrives when Brünnhilde disobeys her father by siding with Siegmund in the latter’s fight against Hunding. This production continues Lyric’s new Ring, which began with the opening production of the 2016/17 season, Das Rheingold.


Christine Goerke
Sir Andrew Davis 
Elisabet Strid*
David Pountney
Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
Original Set Designer
Johan Engels
Brandon Jovanovich
Set Designer
Robert Innes Hopkins
Eric Owens
Costume Designer
Marie-Jeanne Lecca
Ain Anger*
Lighting Designer
Fabrice Kebour
Denni Sayers

*Lyric Debut



Anthony Freud: “After David Pountney’s thrilling production of Das Rheingold, which opened Lyric’s new Ring cycle this season, I’m incredibly eager to witness his vision of Die Walküre, one of Wagner’s most human dramas with its exploration of family relationships. The production will renew David’s collaboration with Sir Andrew Davis, which was so memorable not just in Rheingold but also in The Passenger two seasons ago. Returning to us will be four brilliant, internationally acclaimed Wagnerians: Christine Goerke, Eric Owens, Brandon Jovanovich, and Tanja Ariane Baumgartner. We’ll also welcome to Lyric the remarkable Swedish soprano Elisabet Strid and the formidable Estonian bass Ain Anger.”


Sir Andrew Davis: “I find Die Walküre a deeply engrossing work, in which relationships between the major characters are revealed psychologically in the most remarkably insightful way by Wagner. At the same time, this opera’s music is surely the most beautiful in the entire Ring cycle, from the arias of Siegmund and Sieglinde to Wotan’s grandiose farewell and the ravishing Magic Fire Music that ends the opera.  I found conducting Walküre during Lyric’s 2004/05 season one of the most rewarding experiences of my operatic career, and I very much look forward to returning to it.”


New Lyric Opera production of the Ring cycle generously made possible by Lead Sponsor an Anonymous Donor and cosponsors Mr. & Mrs. Dietrich M. Gross, the Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa, and Ada and Whitney Addington.


New Lyric Opera production of Wagner’s Die Walküre generously made possible by the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation, the Mazza FoundationHelen and Sam Zell, and the Marianne Deson Trust, in memory of her parents Samuel and Sarah Deson.



New-to-Chicago Production

The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet (1838 – 1875)

Seven performances, Nov. 19 – Dec. 10, 2017

In French with projected English translations


Bizet’s captivating 1863 opera, The Pearl Fishersis beloved by audiences everywhere for its score, which includes the most popular tenor-baritone duet in opera. The libretto and music conjure up a particularly exotic locale: ancient Ceylon, where the priestess Leïla is loved by both the fisherman Nadir and Zurga, king of the pearl fishers. The travails of this love triangle lead to disaster when Zurga believes himself betrayed by Leïla and Nadir. 


Marina Rebeka
Sir Andrew Davis 
Matthew Polenzani°
Andrew Sinclair
Mariusz Kwiecie?
Set and Costume Designer
Zandra Rhodes*
Andrea Silvestrelli
Lighting Designer
Ron Vodicka*
Chorus Master
Michael Black 
John Malashock*

*Lyric Debut   °Ryan Opera Center Alumnus


Anthony Freud:  “We’re delighted to welcome back director Andrew Sinclair and to introduce Lyric audiences to the fabulously colorful set and costume designs of Zandra Rhodes, a leading figure in international fashion.  Sir Andrew will lead a cast of great Lyric favorites: Marina Rebeka, who was so remarkable as both Violetta and Donna Anna at Lyric; Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecie?, who triumphed together in this opera in a new Met production last season; and Andrea Silvestrelli, currently performing in our Norma, who will be singing a French role at Lyric for the first time.”


Sir Andrew Davis: “For years I’ve been eager to take on The Pearl Fishers. What exquisite music this is! We all know the famous tenor-baritone duet, but there’s a great deal more to savor – not just the arias and the soaring love duet, but also sweepingly dramatic ensembles and choral scenes. It’s an exotically beautiful score, with Ceylon brought to life through an elegant, quintessentially French sensibility.”


Lyric Opera presentation of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers generously made possible by the Harris Family Foundation and Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel. Production owned by San Diego Opera.



New-to-Chicago Production

Turandot by Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924)

Ten performances, Dec. 5, 2017 – Jan. 27, 2018

In Italian with projected English translations


Turandot (1926), the final work of Puccini’s career, showcases the composer’s magnificent melodic outpourings (including the tenor’s celebrated “Nessun dorma”) and reveals Puccini at his peak as a creator of exotically beautiful orchestration. Taking place in ancient Peking, the story centers on the icy Princess Turandot, who will marry the prince who answers her three riddles correctly, but any suitor who fails is put to death. Calaf is the unknown prince who falls in love with Turandot at first sight and, victorious in the riddles, challenges her to learn his name. Calaf is loved by the slave Liù, who serves his father Timur, the exiled Tartar king. The lighter side of the opera is contributed by Turandot’s three lively ministers – Ping, Pang, and Pong.


Amber Wagner°
Sir Andrew Davis (12/5 – 1/21)
Robert Tweten (1/27)
Maria Agresta (December)*
Janai Brugger (January)*
Rob Kearley*
Stefano La Colla*
Set and Costume Designer
Allen Charles Klein*
Andrea Silvestrelli
Lighting Designer
Chris Maravich
Zachary Nelson 
Chorus Master
Michael Black
Rodell Rosel°
Keith Jameson 

*Lyric Debut   °Ryan Opera Center Alumni


Anthony Freud: “In the years since Amber Wagner concluded her tenure at the Ryan Opera Center, her voice has been recognized as one of the most thrilling on the international scene. After her great successes at Lyric in Il trovatore and Tannhäuser, all of us look forward to welcoming her back for the awe-inspiring title role of Turandot. Performing opposite her will be three debuting artists who have distinguished themselves in major international houses: Italian soprano Maria Agresta, American soprano Janai Brugger, and Italian tenor Stefano La Colla. We’ll present Puccini’s opera in a beautiful production that originated at The Dallas Opera.”


Sir Andrew Davis: “It’s exhilarating to conduct Turandot, since Puccini was such a stupendous orchestrator. When I conducted this opera previously at Lyric, the orchestra and I simply reveled in the exoticism of the instrumentation and the sheer grandeur of the score. At the same time, I’m also attracted to the intimate arias of the lyric soprano Liù, and of course, I – like the rest of the world – can’t resist ‘Nessun dorma,’ which has become perhaps the most popular of all tenor arias!”


Lyric Opera presentation of Puccini’s Turandot generously made possible by Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison. Production owned by Lyric Opera of Chicago, originally created by Bliss Hebert and Allen Charles Klein for Florida Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, and San Francisco Opera.



I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini (1801 – 1835)

Seven performances, Feb. 4 – Feb. 28, 2018

In Italian with projected English translations


The opera takes place at a fortress near Plymouth during the English Civil War of the 1640s. Elvira is betrothed to Sir Riccardo Forth, a Puritan colonel, although she is not in love with him. Instead, she loves Arturo Talbot, a Cavalier and a Stuart sympathizer, who loves her in return. Once aware of Elvira’s unhappiness, Elvira’s uncle, Sir Giorgio, convinces her father, Lord Walter, to give his permission for her to marry Arturo. At the wedding celebration, Arturo discovers that Queen Enrichetta has been imprisoned in the castle. By covering the queen in a wedding veil, Arturo helps her escape. Elvira believes she has been abandoned by Arturo, but in the end, the two are happily reunited.


Albina Shagimuratova
Enrique Mazzola 
Lawrence Brownlee
Eric Einhorn
Anthony Clark Evans°
Set Designer
Ming Cho Lee
Adrian Sâmpetrean
Costume Designer
Peter J. Hall
Lighting Designer
Chris Maravich

Chorus Master

Michael Black

°Ryan Opera Center Alumnus


Anthony Freud: “Opera companies can produce I Puritani only when four extraordinary singers are available, and I’m delighted to say that we have them. Albina Shagimuratova, the Russian soprano who was so enthralling as both Gilda and Lucia at Lyric, will return for the virtuosic role of Elvira. Lawrence Brownlee, after his dazzling Lyric debut last season as Ramiro in Cinderella, will sing the even more stratospheric role of Arturo. Baritone Anthony Clark Evans, a gifted Ryan Opera Center alumnus now embarked on what will certainly be a major career, portrays Riccardo, with the marvelous Romanian bass Adrian Sâmpetrean, who made an indelible impression at Lyric in this season’s Lucia di Lammermoor, returning as Giorgio. That production also saw the company debut of Enrique Mazzola, and I’m very pleased to welcome him back to conduct this wonderfully romantic production.” 


Sir Andrew Davis: “Bel canto works provide opera goers with endless pleasure, and within that repertoire, Bellini stands supreme for the sheer grace and elegance of the melodies. I Puritani is one of his greatest masterpieces, abounding with one unforgettable moment after another, including the baritone’s romantic soliloquy, the soprano’s mad scene, and the tenor’s final aria with its famous F above high C!”


Lyric Opera presentation of Bellini’s I Puritani generously made possible by the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation and an Anonymous Donor, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.  This production was originally directed by Sandro Sequi and premiered at The Metropolitan Opera. All scenery, properties, and costumes constructed by The Metropolitan Opera.



Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

Seven performances, Feb. 17 – Mar. 16, 2018

In Italian with projected English translations


The most sophisticated and intimate of the three Mozart/da Ponte operas, Così fan tutte (1790) is a fascinating “school for lovers” story in which two couples learn a great deal about their true feelings for each other. The cynically mischievous Don Alfonso stirs the pot with two earnest young officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, wagering that their fiancées, sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi, cannot remain faithful for 24 hours. The officers depart as if to go to war, then return disguised to woo each other’s beloved. Don Alfonso manipulates the proceedings in cahoots with the sisters’ maid, the ever-resourceful Despina.


Ana María Martínez
James Gaffigan*
Marianne Crebassa
John Cox
Elena Tsallagova*
Set & Costume Designer
Robert Perdziola
Antonio Poli
Lighting Designer
Chris Maravich
Joshua Hopkins
Chorus Master
Michael Black 
Don Alfonso

Alessandro Corbelli

*Lyric Debut 


Anthony Freud: “With just six characters onstage in Così fan tutteand constant interaction between them, this opera needs perfect musical and dramatic rapport between the artists. Sir Andrew and I both feel we have assembled an ideal cast, including Ana María Martínez, a great Lyric favorite whose Donna Elvira in Don Giovannishowed her to be a masterful interpreter of Mozart’s music and a marvelous comedic actress; Alessandro Corbelli, today’s ultimate master of comic repertoire; three young artists who have captivated our audiences – Marianne Crebassa, Antonio Poli, and Joshua Hopkins; and Elena Tsallagova, who will make what I know will be an enchanting Lyric debut. No director understands this opera better than the legendary John Cox, and he’ll collaborate with the brilliant American conductor James Gaffigan, who has rapidly ascended to the top rank internationally.”


Sir Andrew Davis: “The music is so extraordinarily satisfying! I’m endlessly intrigued by it dramatically as well, since there are so many ways it can be interpreted.  It needs tremendous sophistication from the performers onstage, and also the ability to relate to each other on a very intimate level as an ensemble.  It is, in fact, the ensemble opera par excellence, but the solo opportunities for individual characters are glorious, too!”


Lyric Opera presentation of Mozart’s Così fan tutte generously made possible by Lead Sponsor The Negaunee Foundation and cosponsors Randy L. and Melvin R. BerlinMarion A. Cameron, and Nancy and Sanfred Koltun. A joint production of Opéra de Monte Carlo and San Francisco Opera.



New Production

Faust by Charles Gounod (1818 – 1893)

Seven performances, Mar. 3 – Mar. 21, 2018

In French with projected English translations


This exceptionally romantic, universally popular work had its premiere in Paris in early 1859. The story is one of the most justly celebrated in opera. The aged philosopher Faust – at the urging of Satan’s agent, Méphistophélès – is made young again in exchange for his soul. The drama encompasses Faust’s encounter with the innocent Marguerite, his wooing and subsequent abandonment of her, the death of her brother Valentin at Faust’s own hand, and Marguerite’s ensuing madness, death, and redemption. Siébel is the boy in love with Marguerite, Marthe, Marguerite’s busybody neighbor, offers comic relief.


Benjamin Bernheim*
Emmanuel Villaume
Erin Wall° (3/3 – 3/18)
Ana María Martínez (3/21)
Kevin Newbury
Christian Van Horn° 
Production Designer
John Frame*
Edward Parks*
Set/Costume Designer
Victoria Tzykun*
Annie Rosen°
Lighting Designer
Duane Schuler
Jill Grove
Projection Designer
David Adam Moore*

Chorus Master
Michael Black

*Lyric Debut   °Ryan Opera Center Alumni


Anthony Freud: “I’m delighted that this quintessentially French opera will have a French conductor at the helm – Emmanuel Villaume, whose immaculate sense of style has graced many Lyric productions.  For all of us who have followed the dazzling international careers of two Ryan Opera Center alumni, Erin Wall and Christian Van Horn, it will be a joy to welcome them back to our stage, as well as Ana María Martínez. Both she and Erin have triumphed as Marguerite at Lyric previously. We’ll also present a remarkably gifted young French tenor, Benjamin Bernheim, and a dashing American baritone, Edward Parks, in their Lyric debuts. Directing our new production will be Kevin Newbury, with us most recently for Norma and the world premiere of Bel Canto.” 


Sir Andrew Davis: “I’ve adored Faust for many years, thanks to its irresistible, overwhelmingly romantic music. Of course, I also relish the fabulously elegant characterization Gounod gives the devil!  There are wonderful arias, as well as the spectacular final trio – music that has enraptured opera audiences for more than 150 years.”  


New Lyric Opera coproduction of Gounod’s Faust generously made possible by Stefan Edlis and Gael NeesonFaust is a coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Portland Opera.



New Production & Lyric Premiere

Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948) and Tim Rice (1944)

Twenty-six performances, Apr. 27 – May 20, 2018


One of the greatest stories ever told comes to life in the groundbreaking, iconic rock opera that reinvented musical theater for the modern age. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, this global blockbuster tells the story of the final weeks of Jesus Christ from the perspective of Judas Iscariot. As Christ’s followers grow more fervent, Judas must make his fateful choice between faith and betrayal. Filled with an exciting mix of musical styles that draw upon 1970s rock, gospel, folk, and funk themes, this contemporary imagining of the biblical tale features high-energy dance and powerful storytelling.



Timothy Sheader*


Drew McOnie*

Set/Costume Designer

Tom Scutt*

Lighting Designer

Lee Curran*


*Lyric Debut


The conductor and cast will be announced at a later date.