The Time of The Opera Season
4 September 2018
Chicago’s Lyric Opera 2018/2019 season is nearly upon us, kicking off with a free outdoor performance at Millennium Park. 1000M residents are encouraged to arrive early this Friday for what promises to be an awe-inspiring event.
“The Stars of Lyric Opera” occurs each September and features selections from the upcoming season, which this year includes La Bohéme, Mozart’s Idomeneo and Verdi’s Il trovatore, to name a few. “Lyric premieres and exciting debuts abound in the 2018/19 Season,” says Sir Andrew Davis, Music Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago. “From your favorite classics cast with fresh, new voices that will make them shine, to much-anticipated gems of the repertoire, we’ve planned a season that will thrill opera lovers and opera novices alike.”
In the spirit of renewing classics, here is a brief history of opera in Chicago.
The first operatic performances in Chicago were actually from traveling Italian opera companies that visited sporadically during the Civil War. Interest for these types of performances increased in the 1880s as the city’s German population grew, but it wasn’t until 1910 that Chicago established its first permanent resident company, The Chicago Grand Opera Company.
Together with the Chicago Civic Opera, another permanent resident company started 12 years later, the companies toured 62 national cities. The Civic Opera House, the nation’s second largest opera auditorium and the current home to Lyric Opera of Chicago, was built in 1929. And while opera in Chicago was one of the casualties of The Great Depression, it came back into the city’s cultural life when the Lyric Opera launched in 1952 with subscriber support. By 1989, tickets started selling out well before performances began.
Today, Lyric Opera of Chicago continues to widen its relevance with initiatives that include a community engagement program called Lyric Unlimited and public performances like “Stars of Lyric Opera.”
The free public performance takes place at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion on Friday September 7th at 7:30pm. Entrance to the park begins at 5:30pm.