Maestro Milioto

A strong season for singing at Lyric Opera of Chicago resumes with a reprise of the excellent production of La bohème The cast (through January 25) includes the unsung Marcello of the athletic and appealing Zachary Nelson, who is never overshadowed  in vocal glamour or stage presence by his certified star colleagues.

Lyric’s delectable Laurent Pelly production of Cendrillon also continues through January 20.  The Friday, January 11 performance will be even more felicitous as it marks the debut of Francesco Milioto on the podium. In addition to his guest conducting assignments at Chicago Opera Theater (including the exceptional The Clever One in 2014 and the delightful Rita last spring), and his assistant conducting roles at Ravinia Festival and Lyric Opera, Milioto co-founded the New Millennium Orchestra (NMO) and was Music Director of the much-missed Summer Opera series at the Chicago Cultural Center. Among other triumphs, NMO introduced Chicago audiences to mezzo-soprano Katherine Pracht in a blazing production of The Emperor of Atlantis at the start of the local fringe opera movement in 2013. At the Cultural Center, one sat shoulder to shoulder with capacity audiences for free performances of operas by Satie, Prokofiev, and Handel featuring local singers. All this to underscore the notion that Milioto is one of those beloved figures in the opera and orchestral scene in Chicago, with whom, at some point, most professional singers in the area have had the chance to work.

“I have been very fortunate. Observing Barenboim for many years and then working with him at Ravinia on Le Nozze di Figaro was special. Being a regular assistant/cover conductor a Lyric Opera has been something I continue to be grateful for with each production. Sir Andrew Davis has taught me so much. I won’t soon forget conducting Renée Fleming for the first time in Capriccio, before having ever even met her! Other standouts are the Stroman production of The Merry Widow, and of course, this Cendrillon by Pelly. I'm also very proud of the music I made with Chicago Opera Theater. … The most exciting and special collaboration I've done in Chicago was the Bluebeard's Castle with the New Millennium Orchestra and my brilliant wife, Joanie Schultz, my big brother Andrea Silvestrelli and the lovely Kara Shay Thomson were not too bad to work with either!

“Chicago has been the most important city in my musical life, and Lyric Opera has been a huge part of that. To make my first big debut in this house with the support of my Lyric family is beyond special. In bocca al lupo tutti!"  — Francesco Milioto

Chicago Symphony Orchestra presents baritone Thomas Hampson, an important advocate for song, in orchestrated songs by American composers Ives, Copland, Daugherty, and Coriglaino. According to Hampson, audiences have a strong reaction to the music of Ives and Copland because "Americans hear their stories, they hear themselves." Hear yourself January 10-12, in the program conducted by Bramwell Tovey which also features Ives’s Variations on “America” and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

The Newberry Consort is joined by Cleveland-based period instrument ensemble Les Délices to perform songs from a newly-discovered fifteenth-century manuscript: The Leuven Chansonnier January 11-13. The program What’s Old is New brings together vocalists Ellen Hargis, Jason McStoots, and Daniel Fridley with vielle and rebec players David Douglass & Allison Monroe, lutenist Charles Weaver, organetto player Charles Metz,  and the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Debra Nagy. Newberry is truly the only game in town for historically informed, good ol’ Medieval times.