Just in: Chicago slashes its next opera season

Just in: Chicago slashes its next opera season


norman lebrecht

May 19, 2021

Lawrence Johnson reports on Chicago Classical Review:

Lyric Opera is cutting its season from eight productions to six—plus one off-site chamber work. That 25% reduction marks the fewest number of operas performed on the company’s main stage in memory.

A Lyric spokeswoman said that the chopped lineup was due to “safety and budget restraints” and is only for this coming season. She said the company “has the intention” to return to eight main-stage productions in 2022-23.

In related news, the company has no update on the status of Anthony Freud’s contract as general director, president and CEO, which is up in October….

Read on here.




  • Sanookd says:

    Someone in the company’s memory needs a bit of refreshing then. In the 1980 season according to the Lyric archives only 5 operas were presented on the main stage plus a few recitals/concerts.
    This was directly after the season which produced Paradise Lost and left the company in a dangerous financial condition.
    Carol Fox was replaced by Ardis Kranik as the General Director at that time.

    • Vincent Freeman says:

      Yep. I remember that season well, especially the Masked Ball with Pavarotti and Scotto; neither looked at the other during their love duet.

      • Tom Phillips says:

        That would have been immediately following the Scotto-Pavarotti Gioconda performances in San Francisco where she was caught on live television cursing him for upstaging her by taking an unscheduled bow following his aria. He had also (as was typical) come to many rehearsals completely unprepared.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Well don’t feel too sorry for them.

    The Lyric Opera Orchestra has taken over the Joffrey Ballet productions and pushed quite a few freelance musicians in Chicago out of work.

    Happy Hunger Games!
    And may the odds be ever in your favor

    • Bob says:

      The Lyric orchestra and the Chicago Philharmonic (Joffrey’s old orchestra) have almost all the same players. The Joffrey did not hire almost any freelance musicians for their orchestral works.

  • James Weiss says:

    The 2021/2022 season at Lyric is the most uninspired offering I’ve ever seen offered by a major company.

    • Maria says:

      Totally uninspiring programme for a major American company that is watched worldwide. Only streaming for scared ticket holders, not for the public to buy. ENO in London is far more enterprising in comparison as is even Covent Garden.

    • Good times says:

      Oh, wait till you see what Kennedy Center Opera company is planning till you make that statement……

  • Liam says:

    Opera should be reserved as a Punishment for followers of Donald Trump.

  • NotToneDeaf says:

    Lyric’s decline under Freud has been enormous both artistically and financially. And yet, while Peter Gelb is raked over the coals every time he sneezes, no one (including this site) ever has a thing to say about Freud. Why is that?

    • Bob says:

      My guess is that Lyric found a good balance point with the demand for opera in Chicago. Pre-Covid there were hundreds of artistic events and shows each evening, and it’s tough for Lyric to compete (especially when Broadway in Chicago tix can be grabbed for $20). Chicago has numerous live performance options, but only a fraction of the population that NYC has.

  • BrianB says:

    Reducing productions in the next season by 25% can hardly be characterized as “slashing.” Especially in these uncertain times. As it is, we’ll be lucky to get a season at all.