Chicago opera lovers impatient to learn what innovations Anthony Freud will put into place now that he is well and truly ensconced as general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, will have to cool their heels.
The first Lyric season to fall entirely under the new general director’s planning won’t arrive until the 2015-16 season. Just about everything else in the way of repertory and casting for the coming three seasons will have been put together by his predecessor, William Mason, and Mason’s team.
Actually, since Freud inherited Lyric’s trusty music director, Andrew Davis; its creative consultant, soprano Renee Fleming; a committed staff and a financially vigilant board, everything was in place to keep the company on a steady course before Freud’s arrival in Chicago last year.
The general director called a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the Civic Opera House to announce Lyric’s 2012-13 schedule, the second opera season he will have substantially inherited from Mason. Sharing the platform with him were Davis and Fleming, the latter via a Skype hookup from her home in New York.
The 25-week subscription season, Lyric’s 58th, will bring an increase from eight to nine operas, including four staged concert performances at the end of the season of Andre Previn’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” previously announced. There will be 68 performances, four fewer than the current season, running Oct. 6, 2012, to April 6, 2013.
New productions are scheduled of Richard Strauss’ “Elektra,” Massenet’s “Werther,” Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” and “Streetcar.” Rounding out the schedule will be two Verdi operas, “Simon Boccanegra” and “Rigoletto,” Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale,” Puccini’s “La Boheme” and Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.” Most of these operas are returning to the Lyric repertory after long absences. Six productions will be new to Chicago. It’s a remarkably well-balanced lineup.
In addition to recreating her starring role as Blanche DuBois in Previn’s operatic version of the Tennessee Williams play, Fleming will join her longtime colleague, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, in a subscriber appreciation concert Jan. 24, 2013, at the opera house. Bradley Moore, an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, will provide the piano accompaniment.
Also previously announced was a series of non-subscription, post-season performances of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “Oklahoma!,” with casting and production details yet to be finalized.
Freud said Lyric’s move to nine operas next season – a slate the company has not presented since 1987-88 – will not be a template for the immediate future.
“I would love it to be, but I fear that the economic circumstances of the company (make it) not something we can promise on an annual basis,” he said, adding that the 2013-14 season will revert to an eight-opera subscription season, with a post-season music theater work in the spring.
The season will bring an overall increase in ticket prices of about 2.5 percent, although prices will be lowered in sections of the main floor and balcony, and prices frozen in certain rows of the upper balcony. For the first time, subscribers can save 40 percent over individual ticket prices, which next season will range from $34 to $239.
Although nine operas will be presented, a full-season subscription still will comprise eight operas. Subscribers may choose among 23 different subscription packages, including 10 series of four operas each.
Reduced prices will be available for school-aged children attending performances of “Hansel and Gretel” accompanied by adults with regularly priced tickets. Family-friendly tickets also will be offered for a Dec. 2 matinee performance of “Don Pasquale.” High school and college students may take advantage of a $20 ticket offer for an April 5, 2013, performance of “Streetcar” by the understudy cast. Lyric also will continue its ticket-discount programs for college students and young professionals.
“We are really trying to make it irresistibly appealing for people to subscribe,” said Freud. “In these turbulent economic times we have a real responsibility to be as accessible to as broad an audience as we can possibly attract.”
Season brochures for renewing subscribers will be mailed Feb. 2.Copyright © 2015, RedEye