Lyric Opera’s 2007-2008 Season

Chicago Lyric Opera has announced its 2007-2008 season (I received my re-subscription notice yesterday) and, as usual, I have severely mixed feelings. When my wife saw the program, she said “Do you want to re-subscribe?”. Our subscription to Lyric Opera is a major financial commitment and, given the general mediocrity of the 2006-2007 season, it’s a very reasonable question.

I do want to re-subscribe but I’ll do so with some reluctance. Here’s next year’s season:

La Traviata

I’ve frequently quipped that Lyric should be re-dubbed the La Traviata, La Bohème, and Tosca Repertory Company. In any given year we’re bound to hear at least one of them. Next year we’ll hear two.

Now I love both La Traviata and La Bohème but there are a host of operas in the common repertory that we haven’t heard at Lyric Opera in decades. Of Donizetti’s sixty some-odd operas a dozen or so remain in the common repertory. We’ve heard, maybe, four in the nearly 30 years I’ve subscribed to Lyric Opera. We continue to hear the same small selection of Verdi operas, Bellini operas, Rossini operas, and Puccini operas year after year, without dipping into the other operas from their body of work that remain in the common repertory. And heaven forbid we should hear a Mercadente, Meyerbeer, or Weber opera!

I recognize that there a certain amount of “give the lady what she wants” in Lyric’s programming but I refuse to believe that the Chicago opera-going audience was clamoring to hear Midsummer Marriage.

Two sopranos sing the role of Violetta. We’ll hear Elizabeth Futral. She’s wonderful and I look forward to her performance but it would have been nice to hear Renee Fleming. Our series always gets short-changed.

La Bohème

I see that Renata Scotto has decided to stop singing the role of Mimi and, rather than entering a retirement home, direct La Bohéme. She certainly has enough performances under her belt to know the opera pretty well. The cast is unfamiliar to me.

Julius Caesar

Here Lyric has branched out a bit and it’s welcome. Handel’s 1724 Giulio Cesare has been hailed as Handel’s greatest operatic work and I’ve never heard it. We’ve heard counter-tenor David Daniels, who will be singing the title role, before at Lyric and he’s really remarkable. I tend to find counter-tenor singing a little off-putting. I’ve sung the female alto line a couple of times in choral works so I find it stress-producing.

Die Frau ohne Schatten

It’s been, what, 25 years since we’ve heard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten at Lyric. Debra Voigt should be a fine empress. I hope this production is better than the “multi-media” version we heard last time around. This will be the first time I’ve heard the opera with super-titles.

Doctor Atomic

This opera’s composer, John Adams, is best known for Nixon in China. Doctor Atomic, an opera about the events and characters involved in the first nuclear weapons test, premiered two years ago and has been getting some pretty good press. See here for more info on the work. I’ll keep my fingers crossed—contemporary opera is really a crapshoot.


This is Verdi’s last opera and I love it. I’m not sure my wife agrees with me on that. The cast is mostly unfamiliar to me.

The Barber of Seville

Another opera that I love and that’s frequently performed at Lyric. We had the finale from Barbieri as the recessional at our wedding. It’s always fun. It appears to be a rather young cast.

Eugene Onegin

I’ve read Pushkin’s novel in verse several times (in Russian) and it’s one of my favorite works of literature. I’ve always found Tschaikovsky’s operatic setting a little tepid. The female principal performers are making their Lyric Opera debuts. Italian lirico-spinto soprano Barbara Frittoli (Tatyana) is supposed to be quite good. She’s been around for quite a while and this is her first appearance at Lyric. Georgian soprano Nino Surguladze (Olga) is completely new to me. Why do opera singers (particularly women) insist on using their high school graduation photos in opera programs?

Well, that’s it. What do you think?

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