The highly anticipated world premiere of the new opera Bel Canto is less than two months away, with performances December 7 through January 17 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Chicago, IL 60606


Thursday, October 22, 2015

What does it take to make a new opera?
Find out with “Bel Canto: A  World Premiere Experience” —
three free programs presented by Lyric Unlimited 



CHICAGO – The highly anticipated world premiere of the new opera Bel Canto is less than two months away, with performances December 7 through January 17 at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Creating a new opera takes years of planning and preparation on a global scale. Selecting the right subject and the right composer and librettist, assembling the best creative team and cast, designing and building sets and costumes, rehearsing and putting it all together for the world premiere is a massive and thrilling endeavor for all concerned. This is Lyric’s seventh full-length operatic world premiere commissioned for the main stage.

Lyric is proud to present Bel Canto, a new opera based on Ann Patchett’s best-selling novel. The story is inspired by the Peruvian hostage crisis of 1996-97, and it explores the alliances and deeply human relationships that form in extreme captivity where music is a shared language. Performance dates are December 7, 10, 12, January 5 and 13 at 7:30pm; and January 8, and 17 at 2pm.

Bel Canto is composed by the dynamic composer Jimmy López (a native of Peru who lived in Lima during the real-life crisis), featuring a libretto by playwright
Nilo Cruz, the first Cuban-American to win the Pulitzer Prize (for his play Anna in the Tropics). Lyric’s creative consultant Renée Fleming curated the new opera. Music director Sir Andrew Davis will conduct and director Kevin Newbury leads the all-star cast and creative team.

To deepen the audience’s experience of the opera, Lyric Unlimited is presenting Bel Canto:A World Premiere Experience, a series of three free programs in November and December. “We hope that you will read the book, join us in conversation, and enjoy this momentous world premiere,” says Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director, who commissioned this exciting new work.

Lyric has also created a Bel Canto Opera Guide  and encourages book groups to read (or reread) Patchett’s novel and attend the world-premiere opera it has inspired. For more information, go to

For Bel Canto tickets and information call (312) 827-5600 or go to


Bel Canto: A World Premiere Experience – free public programs

Registration is strongly encouraged for these free, public events. Capacity is limited and ticketed attendees will receive priority access. Register at


Sunday, November 8, at 2pm:

An Afternoon of Chamber Music with Bel Canto Composer Jimmy López

Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall (2nd floor south)

78 E. Washington Street, Chicago

An afternoon of chamber music performed by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and others, curated and hosted by composer Jimmy López. The concert will feature music by López as well as by Bach, Stravinsky, and Grisey.


Wednesday, November 18, at 7pm:

From Page to Stage: a conversation with Bel Canto author Ann Patchett and Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming

In partnership with Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center

Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 W. State St., Chicago

Join Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming and Bel Canto author Ann Patchett for an intimate discussion of the journey involved in transforming a best-selling novel about an operatic diva into a world premiere opera at Lyric.


Wednesday, December 2, at 6pm:

The Creation of a World Premiere: a conversation with the creative team

Join the minds behind Bel Canto as they discuss the creation of an original opera. Panelists include composer Jimmy López, librettist Nilo Cruz, conductor and Lyric music director Sir Andrew Davis, director Kevin Newbury, and soprano Danielle de Niese, with moderator Roger Pines, Lyric’s dramaturg.
This event is supported by the Katherine A. Abelson Educational Endowment Fund.


Lyric Opera’s Bel Canto: A World Premiere Experience series is made possible by support from The Wallace Foundation.

Lyric Unlimited was launched with major catalyst funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and receives major support from the Hurvis Family Foundation.

Lyric Opera world premiere of López’s Bel Canto  generously made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Helen and Sam Zell, Ethel and William Gofen, Ada and Whitney Addington,the Walter E. Heller Foundation,and Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Bel Canto was created with funds from the Prince Prize for Commissioning Original Work, which was awarded to Jimmy López and Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2013.



About Lyric

Founded in 1954, 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.

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 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.

Lyric Unlimited is Lyric Opera of Chicago’s department dedicated to education, community engagement, and new artistic initiatives.




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