Lyric starts season with new production of 'Macbeth'

  • American baritone Thomas Hampson takes on the title role in Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of "Macbeth."

    American baritone Thomas Hampson takes on the title role in Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of "Macbeth."

Updated 1/31/2011 6:27 PM

The Civic Opera House's Ardis Krainik Theatre is polished and ready for Friday's gala opening of Lyric Opera of Chicago's 56th season.

The gold curtain will rise at 7 p.m. for Giuseppe Verdi's "Macbeth," starring American baritone Thomas Hampson in the title role. Renato Palumbo will conduct, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater founder and artistic director Barbara Gaines will make her Lyric debut as stage director.


"Macbeth" is one of the new productions to be presented this season, with Chicago audiences also seeing two other productions for the first time: Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin," from London's Royal Opera Covent Garden, and Verdi's "A Masked Ball," from San Francisco Opera. Other all-new productions include two Lyric Opera premieres: Benjamin Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and G.F. Handel's "Hercules."

"We cover a lot of operatic territory this season," said general director William Mason. "We've got Italian favorites by Verdi and Puccini, we've got Wagner, Handel, Benjamin Britten and Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Mikado.' It's a nice well-rounded repertoire, something for everybody."

As usual, many of the opera world's leading stars will be here this season, beginning with Hampson as Macbeth. In upcoming weeks, the Lyric will feature American soprano Deborah Voigt as Minnie in Puccini's "Girl of the Golden West," American countertenor David Daniels in both "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hercules," longtime Lyric Opera leading tenor Frank Lopardo as King Gustavo joining American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky as Amelia in "A Masked Ball," South African tenor Johan Botha in the "Lohengrin" title role and legendary American bass James Morris portraying The Mikado.

Sir Andrew Davis celebrates his 10th anniversary as the Lyric's music director, conducting three operas: "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Mikado" and "Lohengrin," the latter returning to the Lyric for the first time in 30 years.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

There are 68 performances over the 24-week season, an economy-imposed reduction from 77 performances over 26 weeks. These terms were negotiated with the Chicago Federation of Musicians in 2009.

"Even though it's early, I think we're in good shape," Mason said. "Like all opera companies, we're going through a period of readjustment. How long it will take, no one knows, but I feel we're well-positioned to carry through."

Single tickets remain for many performances. For prices and availability, visit or call (312) 332-2244, ext. 5600. For potential subscribers, many creative ticket plans are available, along with discounted student tickets.

Here's a rundown of the 2010-11 season:

"Macbeth" by Giuseppe Verdi. 7 p.m. today; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 30; 2 p.m. Oct. 21 and 24. Conducted by Renato Palumbo; stage director, Barbara Gaines. Starring Thomas Hampson as Macbeth, Nadja Michael as Lady Macbeth, Leonardo Capalbo as Macduff, Stefan Kocán as Banquo and Konstantin Kapanov as Malcolm.


"Carmen," by Georges Bizet. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13, 16, 22 and 25; 2 p.m. Oct. 20 and 29. Additional performances at 7:30 p.m. March 12, 15 and 18; and 2 p.m. March 24 and 27. Conducted by Alain Altinoglu; John Copley, stage director. Starring Kate Aldrich as Carmen (Katherine Goeldner on Oct. 29), Yonghoon Lee as Don Jose, Elaine Alvarez as Micaela and Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo. March dates will feature Nadia Krasteva as Carmen, Brandon Jovanovich as Don Jose and Nicole Cabell as Micaela.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream," by Benjamin Britten (Lyric Opera premiere). 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 8, 10, 20 and 23; 2 p.m. Nov. 13 and 17. Conducted by Rory Macdonald; Neil Armfield, stage director. Starring David Daniels as Oberon, Anna Christy as Tytania, Lucas Meachem as Demetrius, Peter Rose as Bottom, Keith Jameson as Flute, Erin Wall as Helena, Elizabeth DeShong as Hermia, Shawn Mathey as Lysander and Wilbur Pauley as Snug.

"Un Ballo in Maschera" ("A Masked Ball"), by Giuseppe Verdi. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 18, 24, 27, 30 and Dec, 4; 2 p.m. Nov. 21 and Dec. 10. Conducted by Asher Fisch; Renata Scotto, stage director. Starring Frank Lopardo as King Gustavo, Sondra Radvanovsky as Amelia, Stephanie Blythe as Ulrica, Mark Delavan as Renato and Kathleen Kim as Oscar.

"The Mikado," by William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 8, 11, Jan. 7, 11 and 15; 2 p.m. Jan 5, 9, 13 and 21. Conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, with Philip Morehead conducting the Jan 11-21 dates. Gary Griffin, stage director. Starring James Morris as The Mikado, Neal Davies as Ko-Ko, Stephanie Blythe as Katisha, Toby Spence as Nanki-Poo, Andriana Chuchman as Yum-Yum, Andrew Shore as Poo-Bah, Philip Kraus as Pish-Tush and Katherine Goeldner as Pish-Ting.

"The Girl of the Golden West" by Giacomo Puccini. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22, Feb. 4, 9, 12, 15 and 21; 2 p.m. Jan. 26, 29 and Feb. 18. Conducted by Sir Andrew Davis; Vincent Liotta, stage director. Starring Deborah Voigt as Minnie, Marcello Giordani as Dick Johnson, David Cangelosi as Nick, Marco Vratogna as Jack Rance and Daniel Sutin as Sonora.

"Lohengrin," by Richard Wagner. 6 p.m. Feb. 11, 16, 25, March 1, 5 and 8; 1 p.m. Feb. 20. Conducted by Sir Andrew Davis; Elijah Moshinsky, stage director. Starring Johan Botha as Lohengrin, Emily Magee as Elsa (Amber Wagner on March 5 and 8); Michaela Schuster as Ortrud, Greer Grimsley as Telramund, Georg Zeppenfeld as King Henry and Lester Lynch as The Herald.

"Hercules," by George Frideric Handel (Lyric Opera premiere). 7:30 p.m. March 4, 7, 16, 19 and 21, 2 p.m. March 10 and 13. Conducted by Harry Bicket; Peter Sellars, stage director. Starring Eric Owens as Hercules, Alice Coote as Dejanera, David Daniels as Lichas, Lucy Crowe as Iole and Richard Croft as Hyllus.