Lyric Opera Sets 18/19 Seaon, Includes WEST SIDE STORY Lyric Opera Sets 18/19 Seaon, Includes WEST SIDE STORY
Lyric Opera of Kansas City has announced its 2018-2019 season. Lyric Opera Sets 18/19 Seaon, Includes WEST SIDE STORY

Pictured: West Side Story set rendering. Design by Peter Davison.

Lyric Opera of Kansas City has announced its 2018-2019 season, including a new production of West Side Story and new-to-Kansas City productions of Madama Butterfly Così fan tutti, and The Pearl Fishers. All performances will be accompanied by members of the Kansas City Symphony.

In its third season, the Lyric will also continue its Exploration Series with three performances at the Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building and at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral.

General Director and CEO Deborah Sandler stated, “When the Lyric Theatre was founded in 1958, Russell Patterson had a vision to make opera accessible to a modern audience. Sixty years later, Lyric Opera of Kansas City is still firmly committed to that vision. We have made it our mission to make opera indispensable to Kansas City through adventurous programming over a wide range of repertoire. Our 2018-2019 season was designed to surprise, delight, and inspire the seasoned opera-lover and the newcomer alike.”

2018-2019 Season (from the press release): 

Bernstein’s West Side Story
By Leonard Bernstein
Book by Arthur Laurents; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Original Jerome Robbins choreography with original orchestral score
Conductor David Charles Abell
Director Francesca Zambello
Choreographer Julio Monge
Sung in English with English subtitles
September 22nd – September 30th, 2018
Five performances only

The season opens with the award-winning work that transports Romeo & Juliet to the streets of New York City, an ALL-NEW PRODUCTION of West Side Story, featuring the original Jerome Robbins choreography and the original orchestral score. Created by artists Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins, who set out to surpass the expectations of musical theater, this production will give audiences the rare opportunity to experience West Side Story at the scale in which it was originally conceived.

This production is a co-production of Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Director Francesca Zambello of Washington National Opera and Glimmerglass Festival will be making her Lyric Opera debut. David Charles Abell (Conductor/Carmen, 2016) will return to Lyric Opera. Vanessa Becerra, also making her Lyric Opera debut, will sing Maria, after appearing in the role at Glimmerglass in July-August 2018. Andrew Bidlack, who recently debuted with Lyric Opera in the Lyric’s critically-acclaimed Everest, will sing Tony. Brian Vu, in the role of Riff, will also make his lyric debut, after appearing as Riff with Houston Grand Opera and Glimmerglass.

Deb Sandler stated, “Our selection of West Side Story to open our 61st season continues our commitment to excellent works that also offer a rich variety. Producing West Side Story honors the diverse repertoire of our Company, which, early in its history, produced Most Happy Fella, Sweeney Todd, Man of La Mancha, and Kander and Ebb’s The Happy Time. In 1971, the Company appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine for its production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It is to this commendable list that we will add West Side Story. As we observe the centenary of Bernstein’s birth, it seems entirely fitting to celebrate with a quintessential work by this American conductor who became an American composer.”

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly
By Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on a short story by John Luther Long
Sung in Italian with English subtitles
Sets and costumes from The Dallas Opera
November 3rd – November 11th, 2018
Conductor Ryan McAdams
Stage Director Ron Daniels

In a stunning traditional production from The Dallas Opera and directed by Ron Daniels in his Lyric Opera debut, Madama Butterfly tells Puccini’s tragic love story of a young Geisha and her doomed marriage to a swaggering US Naval Officer.

Karah Son, in her Lyric Opera debut in the role of Butterfly, has sung the role at Opera Australia, Welsh National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival. Pinkerton will be played by Georgy Vasiliev, who is making his Lyric Opera debut, and recently sang the role at Opera Australia. Kristin Choi, another debut, portrays Suzuki, and has sung the role at Washington National Opera. Daniel Belcher (Silent Night, 2015; Dead Man Walking, 2017), in the role of Sharpless, is a local favorite. Ryan McAdams, who conducted Lyric Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro in 2016, returns as well.

Mozart’s Così fan tutte or The School for Lovers
By Wolfgang A. Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Sung in Italian with English subtitles
March 16th – March 24th, 2019
Conductor Jane Glover
Stage Director James Alexander

This lush production from San Francisco Opera places Mozart’s classic opera in the glittering Belle Époque era at a lavish Monte Carlo resort. Directed by James Alexander, who debuted with Lyric Opera with The Pirates of Penzance (2017), the cast features Daniela Mack in the role of Dorabella and Vanessa Vasquez as Fiordiligi. Mack recently made her Metropolitan Opera debut, and both Mack and Vasquez will make their Lyric Opera debuts. Alasdair Kent will also be making his Lyric Opera debut in the role of Ferrando; his repertoire includes multiple Mozart roles. Former Resident Artist John Viscardi returns as Guglielmo; he appeared with Lyric Opera in The Juliet Letters and Dead Man Walking in 2017. Maureen McKay (Susanna in Lyric Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro, 2016) returns in the role of Despina. Patrick Carfizzi, who portrayed Dulcamara in Lyric Opera’s The Elixir of Love in 2016, returns as Don Alfonso. Early music specialist Jane Glover will conduct in her Kansas City debut; she has served as the Artistic Director of the London Mozart Players and the Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music, and is currently Music Director of Music of the Baroque.

Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers
By Georges Bizet
Libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré
Conductor Antony Walker
Stage Director Andrew Sinclair
Production Designer Zandra Rhodes
Choreographer John MalashockSung in French with English subtitles
Sets and costumes by Zandra Rhodes, from San Diego Opera
April 27th – May 5th, 2019

The season concludes with a trip to the ancient island of Ceylon, where a forbidden love threatens both the prosperity of a civilization and a vow of eternal friendship. This wildly colourful production from San Diego Opera was designed by Zandra Rhodes, the iconic British designer who dressed Princess Diana and the musical artist Prince, among others. Andrew Sinclair, making his Lyric Opera debut, will direct. Conductor Antony Walker, who is Music Director of Pittsburgh Opera and Artistic Director of Washington Concert Opera, will also make his Kansas City debut.

The Pearl Fishers brings multiple Lyric Opera debuts, including Maeve Höglund as the priestess Leila, John Moore as Zurga, and Christian Zaremba in the role of Nourabad. Höglund’s roles include Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Musetta in La bohème; Moore has sung Zurga in several productions, and Zaremba recently debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Angelotti/Tosca. Sean Panikkar (Silent Night, 2015), will be returning to sing Nadir.

Exploration Series

This series of three adventurous productions during the 2018-2019 season features an eclectic array of works to be performed in The Lyric’s Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building in the Crossroads Arts District and at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral. The Explorations Series will feature programming that crosses musical borders, experiments with a wider range of genres, and illuminates the intersection of classical music with various streams of popular music. “This programming diversity allows us to touch audiences in new and personal ways, while expanding the range of our offerings,” said General Director Deborah Sandler. “We believe the intimacy of our Explorations performances will create a new kind of experience for audiences. This series will also continue to showcase the extremely talented singers in our Resident Artist Program, along with other guest artists from around the world.”


First Fridays

Lyric Opera of Kansas City joins other Crossroads-area businesses in opening their doors for free community events on selected dates from 5-8 p.m., in the Beth Ingram Administration Building (1725 Holmes, KCMO). Attendees enjoy preview performances of Lyric Opera’s mainstage productions by Lyric Opera Resident Artists and Young Apprentices, as well as free drinks and food. The event is FREE and open to everyone. More information is available at

First Friday dates for 2018-19:

September 7, 2018
November 3, 2018
March 1, 2019
April 5, 2019

For more information on the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s 2018/19 season, including season ticket purchases, visit

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