Thursday, October 25, 2018

African American Tenor Russell Thomas is Lead in Lyric Opera's 'Il trovatore' Nov. 17 - Dec. 9

Russell Thomas

(Robert Kusel)

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Emotions run high and tempers run hot in Verdi's dark and dramatic
November 17-December 9, 2018
at the Lyric Opera House

CHICAGO (August 2018) – Lyric Opera of Chicago continues the 2018/2019 season with a stunning production of Verdi’s tragic masterpiece Il trovatore. Set to some of Verdi's most thrilling music, Il trovatore is an action-packed story that includes curses, kidnapping, and mistaken identity against the smoldering atmosphere of 15th century Spain. 

Il trovatore opens on Saturday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. and runs for seven performances at the Lyric Opera House (20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago). Tickets start at $39 and are available now at or by calling 312-827-5600.

Il trovatore is a hot-blooded tale of love, jealousy, and retribution. Azucena, a gypsy, repeatedly tells Manrico, whom she has raised as her son that, years before, Azucena’s mother had been found lurking by the cradle of the young son of Count di Luna, who had the woman burned as a witch. Azucena herself stole the child and took him to the funeral pyre but, in her anguish, she threw her own child into the still-smoldering fire. The adult Manrico is now the mortal enemy of the present Count di Luna, his exact contemporary. Both men love the noblewoman Leonora. The Count attempts to abduct her but is thwarted by Manrico. He and Leonora are about to be married when he learns that the Count has captured Azucena. Manrico fails to rescue her and the two are imprisoned. In exchange for Manrico’s life, Leonora offers herself to the Count, but then swallows poison rather than yield to him. She reveals her sacrifice to Manrico who is ordered to the gallows by the Count. Azucena witnesses Manrico’s death and then cries to the stunned Count, “He was your brother!”

This stellar cast is led by a trio of powerhouse American vocalists: soprano Tamara Wilson in her Lyric debut as the beloved Leonora; mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who was last seen on the Lyric stage in the 2014/15 season as Jane Seymour in Anna Bolena, as the wild gypsy Azucena; and American tenor Russell Thomas, who made his Lyric debut as Pollione in the 2016/17 season production of Norma, as the courageous Manrico. Romanian baritone George Petean also stars as the vengeful Count di Luna in his Lyric debut. Rounding out the cast is Italian bass Roberto Tagliavini as Ferrando, the captain of the guards, in his Lyric debut.

Italian conductor Marco Armiliato returns to Lyric after leading the orchestra in Rigoletto last season. Scottish opera and theatre director Sir David McVicar created this production when it debuted here in 2006/07 season. Director Roy Rallo takes the helm for this revival while also receiving his Lyric debut. British designer Charles Edwards created the set designs, inspired by Goya's dark depictions of war, with costumes by award-winning German costume designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel and lighting by Chicago-based lighting designer Christopher Maravich. Michael Black is chorus master.

Il trovatore is full of ‘primary-color’ emotions and contains some of Verdi’s most darkly intense music,” says Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director. “It is unforgettably tuneful and powerfully dramatic. From Manrico’s thrilling ‘Di quella pira’ to the ‘Anvil Chorus,’ one of the most famous choruses in all opera, Il trovatore is the epitome of Italian grand opera: stirring and spectacular.”

Notes Lyric’s music director, Sir Andrew Davis, “Tamara Wilson, Russell Thomas, and Jamie Barton exemplify the best of what American singers of their generation can offer an audience: beautiful voices, terrific musicianship, highly individual interpretation, and imposing stage presence. Marco Armiliato comes to Il trovatore with a profound understanding of what it takes to bring to life Verdi’s unique combination of virility and pathos. He is a ‘singers’ conductor’ in the finest sense: he is a great enabler and inspirer.”

Lyric Opera’s production revival of Verdi’s Il trovatore is generously made possible by Henry M. and Gilda R. Buchbinder and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation. Il trovatore is a coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Metropolitan Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Association.

About Lyric Opera of Chicago
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.

To learn more about Lyric’s season, go to You can also join the conversation with @LyricOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #Lyric1819 #LongLivePassion 


No comments: