Bel Canto (opera)

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Bel Canto is an opera by Peruvian composer Jimmy López. Based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Ann Patchett, the work uses a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. The libretto is sung in Spanish, English, Japanese, Russian, German, French, Latin, Italian, and Quechua. It was commissioned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago as part of the Renée Fleming initiative.[1] Sir Andrew Davis conducted, and director Kevin Newbury staged the work. The cast included Danielle de Niese as Roxane Coss, J’Nai Bridges as Carmen, Jeongcheol Cha as Hosokawa, and Andrew Stenson as Gen.[2]

Performance history[edit]


The opera underwent several revisions and rewrites as a result of numerous work sessions between composer Jimmy López, librettist Nilo Cruz, director Kevin Newbury, conductor Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming.[3] A workshop took place on July 8–11, 2014 where four out of a total of six scenes were rehearsed with members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center.[4] A select group of donors and members of the press were invited to attend the last day of the workshop on July 11, 2014.[5] The creative team (this time with soprano Danielle de Niese, bass-baritone Jeongcheol Cha, and pianist Adam Nielsen) met for a final work session and workshop on December 7–9, 2014 at Opera America's National Opera Center.[6] The tech rehearsals took place on the week of July 20, 2015[7] and the Lyric Opera Chorus began rehearsals in late July under the supervision of chorus master Michael Black.

World premiere[edit]

Bel Canto premiered in Chicago on December 7, 2015 at the Ardis Krainik Theatre of the Civic Opera House, home to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Since its announcement on February 28, 2012[8] Bel Canto garnered increasing attention, and it became one of the most awaited world premieres of the 2015-2016 season. It was performed seven times: December 7, 10 and 12, 2015 and January 5, 8, 13 and 17, 2016.[9] The sixth performance was filmed by PBS for a later airing in 2016.[10][11]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, December 7, 2015[12]
(Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis)
Roxane Coss soprano Danielle de Niese
Carmen mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges
Katsumi Hosokawa bass-baritone Jeongcheol Cha
Gen Watanabe tenor Andrew Stenson
General Alfredo tenor Rafael Dávila
Joachim Messner baritone Jacques Imbrailo
Ruben Iglesias tenor William Burden
César countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo
Victor Fyodorov bass Rúni Brattaberg
Christopf tenor John Irvin
Simon Thibault baritone Anthony Clark Evans
Father Arguedas baritone Takaoki Onishi
General Benjamín bass Bradley Smoak
Ismael tenor Alec Carlson
Edith Thibault mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen
Beatriz soprano Diana Newman
Chorus of Guests/Hostages SATB divisi 8-8-8-8
Chorus of Terrorists SATB divisi 4-4-4-4 plus six solo terrorists (two generals plus four named terrorists)


The work is scored for 3 flutes (2nd and 3rd doubling piccolo), 3 oboes (3rd doubling english horn), 3 clarinets in B-flat (2nd doubling clarinet in E-flat and 3rd doubling bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B-flat and C (2nd doubling pututu in E-flat & A-flat and 3rd doubling piccolo trumpet in A), 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion instrument players, piano (on stage), harp, and strings.


Director Kevin Newbury led the following group of designers who were in charge of bringing Bel Canto to the stage: set designer David Korins, costume designer Constance Hoffman, lighting designer Duane Schuler, and projection designer Greg Emetaz.


  1. ^ Yasmin Rammohan (February 28, 2012). "Lyric Opera of Chicago Commissions "Bel Canto"". Chicago Tonight.
  2. ^ Kyle Macmillan (February 9, 2015). "World Premiere Of 'Bel Canto' Among Lyric Opera Highlights Of 2015-16 Season". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on 2015-05-31.
  3. ^ Jimmy López (February 28, 2012). "voiceleading Category Archives: Bel Canto". WordPress.
  4. ^ Lyric Opera of Chicago (February 28, 2012). "The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center". Lyric Opera of Chicago.
  5. ^ Dennis Polkow (July 14, 2014). "Lyric Opera lifts the veil on its work-in-progress "Bel Canto"". Chicago Classical Review.
  6. ^ Alberto Servat (January 25, 2015). "Jimmy López: "La música como fuerza redentora"". El Comercio.
  7. ^ Lyric Opera of Chicago (August 2015). "Behind the Scenes with the Bel Canto Creative Team". Lyric Opera of Chicago.
  8. ^ John von Rhein (February 28, 2012). "Lyric sets world premiere of new opera based on Ann Patchett novel for 2015-16 season". Chicago Tribune.
  9. ^ "Bel Canto". Lyric Opera of Chicago. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  10. ^ In the Wings, News and Insights from Great Performances 2015 – 2016 Season:[1]
  11. ^ In Manhattan, Chicago, Two New Operas
  12. ^ Bel Canto, Meet the Artists, Lyric Opera of Chicago

External links[edit]