Lyric Opera to Premiere ‘Bel Canto’, Based on Ann Patchett Novel

Lyric Opera of Chicago will be premiering Bel Canto, an opera based on Ann Patchett’s best-selling novel of the same name, as part of its 2015-16 season. The company recently held a workshop with the opera’s composer Jimmy López and librettist Nilo Cruz in attendance. Sir Andrew Davis conducted the workshop, while members of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center performed the music.

“It was thrilling to spend time with Jimmy López, Nilo Cruz, Kevin Newbury, and Sir Andrew Davis, going through Bel Canto and hearing the parts of the piece that have already been written,” says Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director. “The premiere is still 18 months away and there is still a great deal of work to be done, but it is already clear that Jimmy’s haunting, moving, and compelling music and Nilo’s beautiful, poetic and gripping libretto will result in a thrillingly operatic reinvention of Ann Patchett’s brilliant novel.”

The novel’s dramatic plot provides the perfect setting for an opera. The fictional renowned soprano Roxanne Cross is performing at a birthday party for a Japanese industrialist in the home of the vice president of an unnamed South American country when armed terrorists break in, intending to take the president hostage. The terrorists discover that the president is not at the party, so they decide to hold the international businesspeople and diplomats instead. They release all of the  entangled in friendships and romantic liaisons.

The Australian-born American soprano Danielle de Niese will portray Roxanne Cross. Lyric will announce additional cast members and the design team at a later date.

Bel Canto is the seventh world-premier opera that Lyric has commissioned for its main stage. It will open in December of 2015. A video about the workshop is available below.

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