Of the eight operas on the schedule, four are popular Italian standards — La Bohme, La traviata, Falstaff and Il barbiere di Siviglia. The remaining four are new or borrowed productions, with the oldest and youngest scores in the season — Handel's Giulio Cesare and John Adams's Doctor Atomic — being Lyric Opera premieres. The other two works are Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten, in a new production by Paul Curran, and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, in Robert Carsen's staging from the Metropolitan Opera.
Emmanuelle HaÇm, the dynamic French harpsichordist and conductor who got her start with William Christie's Les Arts Florissants, will be the first woman to take the Lyric Opera podium when Cesare bows in November. And that great diva of the (recent) past is Renata Scotto, who will direct the October revival of Bohme.
Among the singers making their Lyric debuts are sopranos Christine Brewer, Barbara Frittoli and Danielle de Niese, mezzo Joyce diDonato, countertenor Christophe Dumaux, tenor Joseph Calleja, baritone James Maddalena and bass Vitalij Kowaljow.
Returning stars include sopranos Deborah Voigt, Angela Gheorghiu, Ren_e Fleming, Nicole Cabell and Elizabeth Futral; countertenor David Daniels; tenors Matthew Polenzani and Juan Diego Fl‹rez; and baritones Nathan Gunn, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Thomas Hampson and Peter Mattei.
Here are details of Lyric Opera's complete 2007-08 season:
- Verdi's La Traviata. Frank Corsaro's 1993 production will get two runs at Lyric next season: six performances each from Sept. 29 to Oct. 15 and Jan. 11 to 26. The season-opening autumn series features Elizabeth Futral as Violetta, Joseph Calleja as Alfredo and Mark Delavan as the elder Germont, with company artistic director emeritus Bruno Bartoletti on the podium. The new year will see Ren_e Fleming bringing her much talked-about Violetta to Chicago, with Matthew Polenzani as her Alfredo and Thomas Hampson as Germont pre; Lyric's current music director, Andrew Davis, will conduct.
- Puccini's La Bohme. Renata Scotto made her U.S. debut as MimÐ at Lyric Opera in 1960, and she returns to the house next fall to direct this revival, with Davis presiding in the pit. For the first six performances, Oct. 1-16, the glamorous Angela Gheorghiu will sing MimÐ, with Roberto Aronica as her Rodolfo; for five subsequent performances Nov. 9-23, Serena Farnocchia will appear as MimÐ, with Gwyn Hughes Jones as Rodolfo. For the entire run, Musetta and Marcello will be played by two alumni of Lyric's own Ryan Opera Program: soprano Nicole Cabell and baritone Quinn Kelsey.
- Handel's Giulio Cesare in Egitto. The most popular of Handel's operas today gets its Lyric Opera premiere, in David McVicar's staging from England's Glyndebourne Festival. Four of the seven cast members make their house debuts: soprano Danielle deNiese, who caused a sensation as Cleopatra when this production first ran at Glyndebourne; countertenor Christophe Dumaux as the bratty young pharaoh Tolomeo; mezzo Maite Beaumont as the impetuous youth Sesto; and countertenor Gerald Thompson as Cleopatra's confidante Nireno. Superstar countertenor David Daniels takes the title role, with mezzo Patricia Bardon as the newly-widowed Cornelia and bass Wayne Tigges as the Egyptian general Achilla. Emmanuelle HaÇm makes history as Lyric's first female conductor in eight performances from Nov. 2 to Dec. 1.
- Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten ("The Woman Without a Shadow"). Perhaps America's two leading dramatic sopranos, Deborah Voigt and Christine Brewer, command the stage as the Empress and the Dyer's Wife, respectively, with Brewer making her Lyric debut. Bass Frank Hawlata plays Barak the Dyer, with tenor Robert Dean Smith as the Emperor and mezzo Jill Grove as the malevolent Nurse. Paul Curran directs for the first time at Lyric Opera with this new production, which receives nine performances from Nov. 16 to Dec. 20. Andrew Davis conducts.
- Adams's Doctor Atomic. This work's 2005 world premiere at San Francisco Opera was a co-production with the Netherlands Opera and Chicago Lyric, and both companies will present the piece in the coming year. Baritone Gerald Finley returns to the central role of J. Robert Oppenheimer, with baritone Richard Paul Fink as Edward Teller, bass Eric Owens as Gen. Leslie Groves, baritone James Maddalena as Jack Hubbard and tenor Thomas Glenn as Robert Wilson (the physicist, not the director). The role of Oppenheimer's wife Kitty was composed for the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who in the end was never able to sing it; Lyric Opera has not yet finalized her replacement. As in San Francisco, the production will be directed by Peter Sellars, who assembled the libretto as well. Robert Spano will conduct the eight performances from Dec. 14 to Jan. 19.
- Verdi's Falstaff. Baritone Ambrogio Maestri makes his company debut as the mountainous knight, with soprano Veronica Villarroel as Alice Ford and baritone Peter Mattei as her jealous husband, soprano Stacy Tappan as their daughter Nannetta and tenor Bryan Griffin as her suitor Fenton; contralto Bernadette Manca di Nissa sings Mistress Quickly. Olivier Tambosi directs, and Davis returns to the podium for nine performances from Jan. 28 to Feb. 23.
- Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia. A glittering cast takes the stage for this sparkling comedy: mezzo Joyce diDonato makes her house debut as Rosina, with Juan Diego Fl‹rez doing another star turn as Count Almaviva, magnetic baritone Nathan Gunn as the wily Figaro and beloved English character bass Andrew Shore as Dr. Bartolo. The staging is by John Copley, and Donato Renzetti conducts the dozen performances from Feb. 16 to March 22.
- Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky brings his renowned portrayal of the title character to Chicago to close Lyric's season. Soprano Barbara Frittoli makes her company debut as Tatiana, with tenor Frank Lopardo as Lensky, bass Vitalij Kowaljow as Prince Gremin and mezzo Nino Surguladze as Olga. Paula Suozzi will direct the Robert Carsen staging from the Metropolitan Opera, and Davis will conduct the ten performances March 1-30.
Information on and tickets for Lyric Opera of Chicago performances are available at www.lyricopera.org.