Midsummer’s Music Musicians Perform for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s World Premiere of ‘Bel Canto’

Midsummer’s Music Festival musicians James Berkenstock (bassoon), Judith Lewis (oboe) and Walter Preucil (cello) performed as members of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s world premiere production of the opera Bel Canto, which was recorded in Chicago last January and will air nationally on Great Performances on Jan. 13. The Wisconsin Channel will air the opera at 8 pm.

Jim Berkenstock

Based on Ann Patchett’s bestselling 2001 novel (which was inspired by the 1996-97 Peruvian hostage crisis), the new opera was composed by Jimmy López with a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. Legendary soprano Renée Fleming, Lyric’s creative consultant, curated the project from its inception and hosts the broadcast.

In the opera, internationally acclaimed soprano Danielle de Niese stars as the American opera diva Roxane Coss, who is making a special appearance at a multinational diplomatic gathering in Lima when terrorists storm the mansion. The hostage situation becomes a siege as government forces surround the compound. During the months-long crisis, lines blur and unexpected alliances form between captors and captives, with Roxane’s singing becoming a powerful, humanizing force.

Bel Canto is sung in Spanish, English, Japanese, Russian, German, French, Latin, and Quechua, with projected English translations. Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric production directed by Kevin Newbury.

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