Netrebko’s debut, Fleming as Blanche, and a Wagner spectacle on tap in Lyric Opera’s 2012-13 season

January 17, 2012

Anna Netrebko will make her Lyric Opera debut as Mimi in Puccini's "La Boheme" in March 2013.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 58th season will bring a varied and well-balanced lineup featuring Richard Strauss’s Elektra, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, Massenet’s Werther, a double shot of Verdi and populist crowd-pleasers by Puccini and Donizetti.

Celebrated Russian soprano Anna Netrebko will make her belated company debut as Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme and Renee Fleming (Lyric’s creative consultant) will star in the previously announced performances of Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Sir Andrew Davis will conduct the first three productions as well as the Meistersinger.

The season will open Oct. 6 with Strauss’s Elektra. Soprano Christine Goerke will make her Lyric debut in the vengeful title role of the Sophocles-inspired drama with Jill Grove as Clytemnestra, Roger Honeywell as Aegithus and Emily Magee as Chrysothemis in a new production by David McVicar.

Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra follows Oct. 15, with Thomas Hampson as the conflicted Italian ruler. Ferruccio Furlanetto, an acclaimed Boris Godunov last fall, will return as Fiesco and Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova (Desdemona in Riccardo Muti’s CSO Otello performances in 2011) will make her debut as Amelia with Frank Lopardo and Quinn Kelsey rounding out the cast in a Royal Opera House production.

Massenet will return to the Lyric stage Nov. 11 after a long absence with Werther, its first Lyric staging in three decades. Matthew Polenzani will star as the manic-depressive title poet with French mezzo Sophie Koch making her house debut as Charlotte. Craig Verm portrays Albert and Kiri Deonarine is Sophie. The controversial staging by Francisco Negrin is a coproduction with San Francisco Opera, where it debuted in 2010.

Marlis Petersen, an unforgettable Lulu here in 2008, will return in a much lighter role as Norina in Don Pasquale, opening Nov. 25. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo will star in the title role of Donizetti’s frothy comedy with Corey Crider as Malatesta and Rene Barbera as Ernesto. Stephen Lord will conduct and baritone Sir Thomas Allen (a notable Malatesta in his day) will make his Lyric directorial debut.

The Lyric will offer subversive holiday fare with a revival of its revisionist take on Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (Dec. 7-Jan. 19, 2012). Elizabeth DeShong and Maria Kanyova star as the ravenous siblings in the darkly Freudian Sir Richard Jones production with Jill Grove as the witch and Julie Makerov and Brian Mulligan as the parents. Conductor Ward Stare will make his Lyric podium debut.

The Lyric’s double-cast Boheme follows, alternating Ana Maria Martinez and Dmitri Pittas (Jan. 21-Feb. 7) with Anna Netrebko and Joseph Calleja (March 9-28).  The company is using the celebrated Netrebko’s debut as a clever marketing tool, with her performances available only to subscribers. Elizabeth Futral is Musetta with Lucas Meachem as Marcello in a San Francisco Opera production new to Chicago. Emmanuel Villaume will conduct.

Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg opens Feb. 8. James Morris stars as Hans Sachs with Dimitry Ivashchenko as Pogner, Bo Skovhus as Beckmesser, Johan Botha (Lohengrin in 2011) as Walther and Amanda Majeski as Eva. Davis will conduct in a David McVicar production from Glyndebourne.

Verdi’s Rigoletto will return to the Lyric  boards Feb. 25 with Andrzej Dobber and Zeljko Lucic alternating in the tite role of the malign hunchback. Albina Shagimuratova will make her Lyric debut as Gilda with Giuseppe Filianoti returning as the Duke of Mantua, Andrea Silvestrelli as Sparafucile, and Evan Rogister conducting.

The season will close with a ninth opera bonus on top of the Lyric’s usual eight productions. A Streetcar Named Desire opens for four semi-staged concert performances on March 26 with Fleming starring as Blanche DuBois in a role created for her. Susanna Phillips portrays Stella with Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Lyric debut) as Stanley and Anthony Dean Griffey reprising the role of Mitch, which he created. Rogister will conduct. As with Netrebko’s dates, the Streetcar performances are only available via subscription.

The 2013 subscriber appreciation concert will feature Fleming and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham on Jan. 24.

The season was announced Tuesday afternoon at a press conference by general director Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis with Renee Fleming participating via Skype. Freud stressed the desire of the company to reach new audiences and a broader range of people with some retooling of prices and innovative subscription series.

For instance, in several series Lyric subscribers can save up to 40% over single-ticket prices in selected seating areas.  In addition balcony prices have been frozen and some main-floor seats reduced.  Also the Lyric is offering reduced children’s prices for all Hansel and Gretel performances. Call 312-332-2244 or go to

Comments are closed.