GREAT PERFORMANCES: Bel Canto The Opera from Lyric Opera of Chicago

GREAT PERFORMANCES: Bel Canto The Opera from Lyric Opera of Chicago

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 9:00pm - 11:00pm

(from l to r) Andrew Stenson, Jeongcheol Cha, and Bradley Smoak in “Bel Canto from Chicago Lyric Opera.”

Credit: Courtesy of © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015

Lyric’s creative consultant, soprano Renée Fleming, hosts the opera she curated from its inception

The world premiere production of Bel Canto the Opera -- recorded in Chicago last January -- airs on Great Performances Friday, January 13 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV.  Based on Ann Patchett 's bestselling 2001 novel (inspired by the Peruvian hostage crisis of 1996-97), the new opera  was composed by Jimmy López with a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and curated by legendary soprano Renée Fleming, Lyric's creative consultant, who hosts the broadcast.

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. Among the hostages are a Japanese industrialist, Katsumi Hosokawa (who is obsessed with the opera singer and who is the reason she was invited to perform), and his translator Gen Watanabe, portrayed by Jeongcheol Cha and Andrew Stenson respectively.  J’nai Bridges  sings the role of guerilla Carmen; with  Rafael Davila  as General Alfredo; William Burden  as Rubén Iglesias , the vice president; Anthony Roth Costanzo  as César; and  Jacques Imbrailo  as  Joachim  Messner, the Red Cross intermediary for the  hostages, captors, and government officials.

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.  The production is designed by David Korins (sets), Constance Hoffman (costumes), Duane Schuler (lighting), and Greg Emetaz  (projections).  Michael Black is chorus master and Nick Sandys is fight director.

Matthew Diamond, who last year directed NBC’s televised live production of The Wiz, directs the television presentation of Bel Canto.

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