By 2006 we had really settled into a great pattern of success at COT. At the Box office it was the best year yet. But it was also the most expensive and in a way it presaged the end of an era. My board president, Dorothy Walton, stepped down after ten years on the job. She had brought me to Chicago and we had a wonderful working relationship. And that relationship between the board leader and the chief executive is as critical in an opera company as it is in business. This had been demonstrated so clearly in my Glyndebourne years when for the whole time I was there George Christie had led the board; and in Canada where there was a rotation system of the board leader changing every two years.
So change at the top is difficult to manage and I do not think that it was successfully accomplished in September 2006. But that was the immediate future. The 2006 season is the thing!
Kyle Albertson (Kissinger) and Robert Orth (Nixon) COT 2006
We brought John Adams's Nixon in China to Chicago for the first time. It was astonishing that this hugely successful and popular, not to say iconic, piece, had never been brought to Lyric. We teamed up, together with others, with the Opera Theatre of St Louis, and were thus able to produce something that wold have been unaffordable otherwise. It became already the most expensive production ever mounted by COC. But it was a huge success at the Box office so we came out of it even. And the acclaim for the performance and the production was so encouraging.
Continuing our successful efforts with Mozart Justin Way directed a very beautiful production of Die Entführing aus dem Serail - Jane Glover conducted and we assembled a most handsome cast of Mozartian singers of great quality. This opera is under appreciated - it consistently does less well with the public that the da Pontes, and the Flute. But it is a piece of great depth and seriousness about, in a word, commitment. And Justin brought out its serious intent and humanity so vividly. I think that for many it was a revelation.
The third offering of the season was a curious English double bill of Charles Dibdin's The Padlock and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. The Dibdin was a fun curtain raiser for the meat of the evening - Purcell's masterpiece. Lillian Groag returned and really had a huge hit with Dido, as well as extracting the maximum value from the Dibdin. With Raymond Leppard presiding in the pit musical values were guaranteed and once again we were able to assemble a distinguished cast, in the case of the Dido led by a magical and moving performance from Susanne Mentzer.
Susanne Mentzer as Dido COT 2006
And for those of you that saw this double bill you might like to be reminded what fun The Padlock was, however slight.
Leah Partridge, Dean Anthony, and Kate Mangiamelli - The Padlock COT 2006
I am sorry for the lateness of this post. It has been a busy week.