My love for Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center is no secret. I am genuinely sad when artists whom I have come to adore reach the end of their residence in this elite finishing program. Ann Toomey and Alan Higgs departed Chicago quickly to begin apprenticeships at Santa Fe Opera. Is it possible for any of their colleagues to have had as much stage experience as Toomey, who filled in as Musetta for Danielle De Niese, and who has easily been one of the ensemble’s most versatile sopranos with too many show-stopping performances to enumerate? Tenor Josh Lovell, who was already cornering Chicago’s oratorio soloist market and dazzled the audience in his farewell Rising Stars performance singing Rossini, is off to Salzburg Festival and will stay in Austria for a contract at Vienna State Opera. Gratefully, Lyric audiences will have a chance to hear Whitney Morrison in Dead Man Walking before the Chicago native heads to Munich to take part in Marina Abramović’s Seven Deaths of Maria Callas project.
As crestfallen as I become when the cycle ends, I am equally excited to meet the new members of the ensemble. On Wednesday, June 5, we all have a chance to meet them when the new configuration of the Ryan Opera Center joins the Civic Orchestra for their annual collaboration at Symphony Center. I am loathe to admit that I missed Mathilda Edge’s performance of “Es gibt ein Reich” at last September’s ROC Audition Finals which apparently created a lot of excitement and secured her place on the 2019 roster. Singing “Non mi dir” with the Civic Orchestra at Symphony Center certainly feels like an equivalently risky introduction to her talents with the potential for brilliance. Kathleen Felty is not entirely new to Chicago-based die-hard-song-nerds like me. The Texas native mezzo-soprano was a fellow at Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute in 2017, participating in the all-Finnish program and singing Schmerzen from the Wesendonck Lieder with pianist Nikolay Verevkin in Kevin Murphy’s public masterclass. Her rich and bright sound is a natural fit for Strauss’s Komponist, whose aria Felty sang to win her place in the ROC. I know very little about the new bass Anthony Reed, but he is featured in three scenes in Wednesday’s concert.
I am most looking forward to second year soprano Emily Pogorelc’s big aria/cabaletta from Daughter of the Regiment. Considering Lyric’s 2019-20 season, I don’t see many possibilities where her assignment as a cover would offer opportunities to show off her spectacular coloratura abilities. High tessitura, articulating rapid melismas, and being heard over an orchestra while maintaining a beautiful tone seem to pose no challenge to this young dynamo. I would pay to hear her sing the entire role of Marie. And then there is my favorite of the bunch, tenor Mario Rojas. I have already said enough about the third year ensemble member. I should stop embarrassing the both of us. It will be nice to hear him in comic bel canto— repertoire in which he could be triumphant all over the world.
This is a free (+handling fee) performance, Get your tickets now! Here’s the full program with casting:
Mozart Don GIovanni
Trio, Recit., and Canzonetta: Ah taci ingiusto core; Amico, che ti par…Eccomi a voi; Deh vieni alla finestra
Aria: Il mio tesoro
Recitativo Accompagnato and Aria: Mi tradi quell’alma ingrata
Recitative Accompagnato and Aria: Non mi dir
Kayleigh Decker – Donna Elvira
Ricardo José Rivera – Don Giovanni
David Weigel – Leporello
Eric Ferring – Don Ottavio
Mathilda Edge – Donna Anna
Rossini Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Act I Aria: Largo al factotum
Act III Quintet: Don Basilio! Cosa veggo!
Mario Rojas – Count Almaviva
Kayleigh Decker – Rosina
Christopher Kenney – Figaro
David Weigel – Bartolo
Anthony Reed – Basilio
Berlioz The Corsair
Argento The Aspern Papers
Scene Two: The Proposal
Kathleen Felty – Tina
Ricardo José Rivera – The Lodger
Anthony Reed – The Gardener
Donizetti La fille du régiment
Music Lesson scene and trio
Aria and cabaletta: Salut à la France!
Emily Pogorelc – Marie
Lauren Decker – Marquise
Anthony Reed – Sulpice
Civic Orchestra of Chicago
Michael Chirstie, conductor
Madeline Slettedahl, harpsichord