The opera that I am looking forward to most is Verdi's Aida. That's because Sondra Radvanovsky is singing the title role, and I know of no other contemporary soprano who can sing Verdi better. It's a masterpiece, of course, and rivals the three great Verdi "middle" gems, Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata, for high-powered drama and memorable melodies. Two Italian tenors, Marcello Giordani and Salvatore Licitra, have been engaged as Radames for the company's two Aida casts.

Lyric is offering three other attractions—Mussorgsky's Boris Godonov, Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, and Oscar Hammerstein's Show Boat—which are sure to please many subscribers. Rounding out this remarkable season is Handel's Rinaldo. Now, Handel is certainly one of the top Baroque masters and his music is always wonderful. The only problem with producing Baroque operas is that they cannot possibly be performed as intended by the composers, who fully expected that their productions would involve a significant amount of vocal improvisation. Today's singers cannot improvise, nor are they expected to.

The Bucksbaum Family Lyric Opera Broadcasts of the 2010/11 Lyric Opera of Chicago season
will be rebroadcast internationally by
The WFMT Radio Network May 21 – July 9

Beginning on Saturday, May 21, and continuing every Saturday through July 9, The Bucksbaum Family Lyric Opera Broadcasts of the 2010/11 Lyric Opera of Chicagoseason will be rebroadcast internationally by The WFMT Radio Network and heard locally on 98.7WFMT. The broadcasts are on the following Saturdays:

The 2011-2012 Lyric Opera Season
By John Rizzo

  he Lyric Opera of Chicago has another great schedule of operas on tap for the coming season. There are four, that in my opinion, are “must sees,” classics that always delight, and, if you have never seen them, will enhance your appreciation of the Grand Art. We are very fortunate in Chicago that we have an opera company that consistently produces such outstanding pieces, often performed with a level of artistry that cannot be surpassed.

Les contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) by Jacques Offenbach is an unusual work, surely a comedy, but definitely not the kind to elicit the jolly laughter of, say, parts of Don Giovanni. (It is during a performance of this great Mozart opera when the action of Hoffmann takes place.) But you don’t go to see this opera for laughs. It has wonderful music for all of its principal characters, and requires incredible stamina and dramatic versatility from the tenor-title role. The story begins and ends in a tavern, but the meat of this work is in the three interior acts. Hoffman falls in love with a different soprano in each of these acts (besides the one he is waiting for in the tavern).

In Lyric's production there will be different sopranos for each of Hoffmann's love objects. Sometimes, as with the premiere, just one soprano sings all three (or even four) roles. The four villains, on the other hand, will be sung by the eminent bass-baritone James Morris. The Hoffmann, Matthew Polenzani, has his work cut out for him, having substantial parts in all five acts. Placido Domingo is the only tenor in recent years who has really shined in this role.

Another tough test awaits Susanna Phillips in the title role of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. This apotheosis of Romantic art holds an immovable position in the Standard Repertoire and demands virtuoso soprano technique. It also requires excellent tenor and baritone singing for Edgardo and Enrico, respectively. For these roles, Lyric has cast two Italians, Giuseppe Filianoti and Gabriele Viviani.

Worth the price of admission for this opera is the glorious sextet, "Chi mi frena in tal momento," one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.

Mozart's genius was such that he could totally abstract his art from his personal life. This is especially evident with Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). It was created at a time when the composer was writing pathetic letters begging for money and when he was so sick that he knew that he was dying. And yet it is hard to imagine a more optimistic and more humorous work. This is one of those operas that never gets old no matter how many times you see it. Scheduled by Lyric for the holiday season, it is the perfect diversion for any opera lover.

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Giuseppe_Filianoti_Edgardo_Lucia_c. Marty Sohl, Metropolitan Opera
The Magic Flute, production, c. Dan Rest, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Nicole Cabell, Pamina, The Magic Flute, c. Ken Howard, Metropolitan Opera
*Macbeth/Verdi                  May 21 / 3 hrs
Carmen /Bizet (2nd cast)   May 28 / 3 hrs 40 min.
A Midsummer                      June 4/  3 hrs
Night’s Dream /              
A Masked Ball /                   June 11 / 3 hrs. 20 min.
The Mikado /                       June 18 / 3 hrs
Gilbert & Sullivan                       
The Girl of Golden West/   June 25 / 3 hrs 5 min.
Lohengrin /Wagner              July 2 / 4 hrs 35 min.
Hercules /Handel                 July 9 / 3 hrs 30 min.