Lyric’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is proud to present Sole e Amore (Sun and Love), a free virtual concert of beautiful lesser-known musical gems by beloved Italian opera composers. Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola is the music director, host, and principal pianist for the concert, which is comprised of an array of songs chosen by Mazzola and performed by the 2020/21 Ryan Opera Center Ensemble. After all, who doesn’t need a little more sun and love in their life?
Conceived by our music director designate: This concert offers another opportunity for our audiences to get to know Enrique Mazzola as he prepares to become Lyric’s music director in the 2021/22 Season. Mazzola hand-picked a delightful selection of intimate songs—arie da camera, songs that are not operatic arias—that reveal new facets of familiar Italian opera composers’ creative output. He was involved in every step of the production process: the concept, the repertoire, and the presentation style, proposing it be from a more intimate, cinematic point of view. “This concert is a very beautiful step into the romantic Italian world of singing, passion, and love,” says Mazzola.
Hearing new things from composers we know: The aria “Un bel dì vedremo” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is almost instantly recognizable; Puccini’s song “Terra e mare,” probably not so much. Sole e Amore will feature relatively unknown gems by Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Catalani, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, and Respighi. It’s thrilling to hear something fresh from a familiar composer, and in several cases to recognize melody fragments that would eventually make their way into famous arias. For opera lovers, Sole e Amore will be a real treasure hunt!
Dedicated to beauty and love: All of the songs in Sole e Amore revolve around the ideas of sun and love, and the concert is divided into themed sections: passionate expressions of love, the beauty of Italy, love and religion, lullabies to those we love, and love of graceful creatures. Mazzola created these sections of the concert with storytelling in mind, bringing audiences on a journey through the many emotional facets of love and how Italians connect love with so many aspects of life.
An ideal showcase for the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble to explore new repertoire: Lyric’s virtual season has created exceptional opportunities for Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members to shine on center stage, demonstrating their versatility and artistic excellence. The featured Ensemble artists in Sole e Amore are sopranos Maria Novella Malfatti and Denis Vélez; mezzo-sopranos Katherine Beck, Katherine DeYoung, and Kathleen Felty; tenors Martin Luther Clark and Lunga Eric Hallam; baritones Leroy Davis and Ricardo José Rivera; bass-baritone David Weigel; bass Anthony Reed; and pianist Chris Reynolds.
- Multitalented maestro serves as a collaborative pianist: For much of the performance, Enrique Mazzola accompanies the singers with his characteristic enthusiasm and sensitivity. “When I play the piano, I’m participating with [the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble’s] breathing, their own phrasing,” says Mazzola. “I didn’t want to be an exterior actor in this production, as sometimes a conductor is. I wanted to create music with them in the moment.”
- Dynamic direction from a Lyric favorite: Matthew Ozawa has directed or assistant directed over twenty Lyric and Lyric Unlimited productions since 2007, most recently the thrilling Donizetti triple-header The Three Queens starring Sondra Radvanovsky in Lyric’s 2019/20 Season.
- From the stage to the screen: In an unprecedented year without any mainstage productions, Lyric is thrilled to be able to present an ongoing selection of digital programming and virtual concerts.
- One-time virtual premiere: February 21, 2021, at 6:00 pm CT on Lyric’s Facebook and YouTube channels. The concert will also remain available to stream after the premiere.
- 70 minutes, including musical selections and spoken introductions.
- Sung in Italian with English closed captions.
For more information, visit Sole e Amore or call 312-827-5600.