Chicago Opera Theater announces 2021-22 season

Opera theater

The Chicago Opera Theater has announced its upcoming 2021-22 season, including Bizet’s beloved CARMEN in concert, with duet debuts by Jamie Barton and Stephanie Blythe; the family vacation fun BECOMING CHRISTMAS FATHER by Mark Adamo; and a world premiere commission from Errollyn Wallen and Deborah Brevoort, QUAMINO’S MAP.

For detailed information on the 2021/2022 season, please visit:

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Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halévy

Love triangles, jealousy, a notorious femme fatale – and some of the most enduring opera arias ever written.

This concert features superstar Jamie Barton in her highly anticipated debut role as Carmen opposite legendary Stephanie Blythe as her alter-ego Blythely Oratonio in a role that fits her like a glove: Don José!

Distribution and creation

Conductor: Lidiya Yankovskaya
Director: Joachim Schamberger

Carmen: Jamie Barton
Don José: Stéphanie Blythe as Blythely Oratonio
Escamillo: Michael Sumuel

Thursday September 16, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday September 18, 2021 at 3 p.m.

Harris Theater for Music and Dance
205 Randolph Street East
Chicago, IL 60601

Production Sponsor: Patricia Kenney and Gregory O’Leary

Become Santa Claus

Music and libretto by Marc Adamo

A bratty elf prince learns the meaning of family, love, and the true spirit of giving gifts.

In an elven kingdom in the Far North, Prince Claus is the son of a conflicted witch and a king who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. When Claus’ uncles skip his 13th birthday party to greet a newborn baby, the boy recruits his elves to make the most spectacular toys ever. Will he be able to dazzle the child whom the Three Kings have been sent to greet?

Distribution and creation

Conductor: Lidiya Yankovskaya
Director: Kyle Lang

Prince Claus: Martin Bakari
Queen Sophine: Nina Yoshida Nelsen
Ib: Lea Dexter

Saturday December 11, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday December 17, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday December 19, 2021 at 3 p.m.

Studebaker Theater
410 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

The Quamino card

Music by Errollyn Wallen
Booklet Deborah Brevoort

A story about the enduring attraction of freedom – and the ends people will go to to achieve it.

Juba Freeman arrives in London after winning his freedom from slavery fighting for the British in the War of Independence. Thrown head first into British society, he meets Amelia Alumond, a member of the British black nobility, and reconnects with other ex-slaves who are struggling to build a new life as free men. Inspired by historical events, the opera shines a light on a forgotten corner of history and challenges current assumptions about life in 18th century London for a person of color.

Distribution and creation

Conductor: Jeri Lynne Johnson
Director: Kimille Howard
Playwright: Cori Ellison

This story is loosely based on the novel Incomparable World by SI Martin, who serves as the historical consultant for this project.

Juba Freeman: Curtis Bannister
Amelia Alumond: Flora Wall
Quamino Dolly: Damien Geter

Saturday April 23, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday April 29, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday May 1, 2022 at 3 p.m.

Studebaker Theater
410 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

Production Sponsor: Virginia Tobiason
Commission sponsor: The Robert & Isabelle Bass Foundation, Inc.

The beekeeper

Music by Wang lu
Booklet Kelley rourke

A couple’s emotional journey is reflected in the nature around them.

Noah and Phoebe leave town when he inherits his grandparents’ orchard. The young couple dream of the life they will create together, but they are not prepared for what lies ahead. In addition to the endless demands of the house and the land, Noah is haunted by memories of his last visit to the orchard, many years ago.

COT invests in expanding the canon of American opera by developing brand new lyrical works and training promising composers during a two-year residency that culminates with the performance of their first opera.

Vanguard’s emerging opera composer Wang Lu has been paired with librettist Kelley Rourke and playwright Kate Pitt; she was mentored by Vanguard Artistic Director Lidiya Yankovskaya and Vanguard Composer’s Mentor Jake Heggie.

March 4, 2022, 7:30 p.m.

Studebaker Theater
410 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

The Vanguard Emerging Opera Composer residency is supported by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.