CHICAGO – Chicago Opera Theater (COT) presents “The Consul,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. Hailed by the New York Times as “an opera of eloquence, momentousness, and intensity of expression… written from the heart,” “The Consul” is a modern opera whose subject matter has proven to have lasting relevance since its premiere in 1950. This show features direction by former COT Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek, music direction by internationally renowned conductor Kristof van Grysperre, and stars legendary soprano Patricia Racette as Magda Sorel. The opening night and press performance will take place on Saturday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Studebaker Theater (410 S. Michigan). Additional performances will take place on Friday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 12 at 3 p.m.
“’The Consul’ speaks to the universal experience of immigration, removed from a set location or time,” remarked director Mitisek. “As an immigrant myself, I was particularly drawn to this piece and the way it reveals the humanity of all beings. I could not have asked for a more pertinent and timely opera to cap my time as Artistic Director at the COT.”
In “The Consul,” Magda Sorel and her family are on the run. Political refugees, they arrive at the consulate in search of a way out. With pressure mounting and her child’s health failing, Magda desperately seeks an audience with the absent consul before it’s too late. This Pulitzer Prize-winning opera takes on new life in 2017, and stars Grammy award-winning opera star Patricia Racette in her heart-wrenching role debut.
In addition to Racette, the cast of “The Consul” includes Audrey Babcock as The Secretary, Victoria Livengood as The Mother, Justin Ryan as John Sorel, Cedric Berry as Secret Police, Kyle Knapp as Nika Magadoff / The Magician, Vince Wallace as Mr. Kofner, Kimberly E. Jones as Foreign Woman, Kira Dills-DeSurra as Vera Boronel, Zacharias Niedzwiecki as Assan/Plainclothesman, and Lani Stait as Anna Gomez.
Special Event Schedule
The Chicago Opera Theater has partnered with organizations to extend the discussion of themes addressed in “The Consul” beyond the stage. Ancillary programming includes:
Viewpoint One: Film
“The Trial” by Orson Welles
Called a “masterpiece” by Roger Ebert and hailed by Welles himself as the best film he ever made, The Trial tells the story Josef, a man on trial for a mysterious (and never specified) crime. Persecuted and desperate for asylum, Josef struggles to escape before it is too late. This film, rarely screened, inspired the tone and design for this new production of “The Consul.”
Sunday, October 22
Time: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Runtime: 118 minutes
Location: Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.
Viewpoint Two: Panel
COT Presents: Beyond the Consul
In partnership with the Newberry library, COT presents a performance and panel featuring a performance by the Refugee Orchestra Project and the personal stories of “The Consul” director Andreas Mitisek and Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya.
Wednesday, October 25
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Price: Free (Reservations Required)
Location: Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St.
Creative Team for The Consul
Composer/Librettist: Gian Carlo Menotti
Conductor: Kristof van Grysperre
Director: Andreas Mitisek
Scenic Design: Alan Muraoka
Lighting Design: David Martin Jacques
Patricia Racette – Magda Sorel
This season Grammy award-winning soprano Patricia Racette makes her role debut as Magda in Menotti’s “The Consul,” her role and house debut in Weill’s “Street Scene” for Madrid’s Teatro Real, and her directorial debut with a new production of “La Traviata” at the Opera Theater of St. Louis. She also returns to The Julliard School to present “Integrative Artistry,” her intense seminar of individual and group coaching and public master classes that she launched last season as the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Racette has appeared in the most acclaimed opera houses of the world including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, La Scala, Paris Opera, Theater an der Wien and the Bayerische Staatsoper. She has earned critical acclaim her portrayals of the title roles of “Madama Butterfly,” “Tosca,” “Jenufa,” “Kátya Kabanová,” and “Salome”; all three lead soprano roles in “Il Trittico,” Katerina in “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,” Elle in “La voix humaine,” and Minnie in “La Fancuilla del West.” A champion of new works, she has created roles in a number of world premieres, most notably with frequent collaborator Tobias Picker, including “An American Tragedy” at the Metropolitan Opera, “Emmeline” at the Santa Fe Opera, and “Dolores Claiborne” at the San Francisco Opera.
Gian Carlo Menotti – Composer/Librettist
Born in Cadegliano, Italy, in July 1911, Menotti began composing music at age 7 and completed his first opera “Death of Pierrot” by age 11. After attending the Verdi Conservatory in Milan he relocated and completed his studies at the Curtist Institute of Music in Philadelphia, under the tutelage of fellow Italian composer Rosario Scalero. “The Consul” is Menotti’s first full-length work, winning a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1950. Other notable operas include “Goya” (1986), “The Hero” (1976), and “The Medium” (1946, at COT in 1992). He is perhaps most recognized for “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” which he wrote for NBC in 1951 and is now a widely performed piece of opera repertoire.
Kristof van Grysperre – Conductor
Van Grysperre is an international conductor, pianist, chamber musician, and vocal coach. Originally from Belgium, he conducted several critically-acclaimed productions at Long Beach Opera such as “Candide,” “La Voix Humaine,” “Hydrogen Jukebox,” and the world premiere of “Fallujah,” which was live broadcasted by KCET. Van Grysperre recently made his debut at New York City Opera, conducting “Fallujah.” The Orange County Register hailed Van Grysperre as “gifted and stylistically impeccable” and described him as a conductor “with pugilistic power and sensitivity.” Van Grysperre has conducted more than 50 operas in the last decade, and received honors and awards including the prestigious Fulbright Grant.
Andreas Mitisek – Director
A native of Austria, Mitisek was the General and Artistic Director of Chicago Opera Theater from June 2012 until September of 2017. He has also been Artistic and General Director of Long Beach Opera (LBO) since 2003, and directed two operas for New York City Opera in 2016. Mitisek was named “Chicagoan of the Year for Classical Music” by the Chicago Tribune in 2014 and was selected as one of the “25 people that will be a major force in the field of opera in the coming decade” by Opera News.
Saturday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 12 at 3 p.m.
Tickets for The Consul ($45 – $145) can be purchased by calling 312.704.8414 or by visiting chicagooperatheater.org.
Chicago Opera Theater’s season continues with the world premiere of “Elizabeth Cree,” based on the novel “The Trial of Elizabeth Cree” by Peter Ackroyd and co-produced with Opera Philadelphia and Hackney Empire. This brand new opera will perform in February, and boasts music and libretto from Pulitzer Prize-winning duo Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell. Finishing off the season in April is a double bill of Gaetano Donizetti’s Il Pigmalione and Rita. The two works—Donizetti’s first work and one of his last—are presented together as a theatrical exploration of love, fantasy and the blurry lines between them.
About Chicago Opera Theater
Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is a nationally recognized opera company based in Chicago, now in its 45th season. COT expands the tradition of opera as a living art form, with an emphasis on engaging and little-seen pieces, including brand new contemporary operas for a 21st century audience.
Since its founding in 1973 by Alan Stone, COT has staged 127 operas, including 65 Chicago premieres and 35 operas by American composers. In 2017, COT presented its first world premiere commission: “The Invention of Morel” by Stewart Copeland and Jonathan Moore.
COT is led by Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General General Director Douglas R. Clayton and Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya. As of fall 2017, Maestra Yankovskaya is the only woman with the title Music Director at a major opera company in the United States. COT currently performs at the Studebaker Theater (Michigan & Congress) and the Harris Theater for Music & Dance (Michigan & Randolph).
For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit chicagooperatheater.org.
About Long Beach Opera
Founded in 1979, the Long Beach Opera is the oldest operatic producing company in the metropolitan Los Angeles/Orange County region. LBO has a repertoire of over ninety operas, including early and late Baroque works, twentieth century works, and operas of special interest from the standard repertory. General Director Andreas Mitisek has continued LBO’s longstanding artistic philosophy of presenting an expanded vision of opera since accepting the role in 2004.
Long Beach Opera is a recognized member of the American operatic community, enjoying funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Long Beach.