To people who know that Chicago’s Lyric Opera famed Music Director, Sir Andrew Davis, has been talking about retiring, the news announced Sept. 12, 2019 that he will do so after the 2021 season did not likely come as a surprise.
What did seem to delight donors, board, staff, chorus members and other Lyric supporters and may have been a surprise, was that the baton will be passed to Italian conductor Enrique Mazzola who will be moving to Chicago as music director designate before he takes up his post in the 2021-22 season.
“I love Chicago,” said Mazzola when introduced during the Lyric’s announcement.
He also revealed he loved deep dish pizza, baseball and the Riverwalk. A Spanish-born Italian conductor particularly known for his interpretations of bel canto operas, Mazzola explained his liking for pizza as “I’m basically Italian.”
Feted in the Lyric’s lobby with wine and cheese before the hall opened, the audience was encouraged to bring their glasses inside.. Thus, several glasses were raised when General Director Antony Freud offered a double toast to Davis and Mazzola.
Davis is currently readying Rossini’s The Barber of Seville to open Lyric’s 65th season, Sept. 28. He will also be conducting Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades and the four operas of Wagner’s Ring cycle (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung).
“I will have been here for 21 years,” Davis said. “It’s time for me to give myself a little more free time. People say to me, ‘You know, there are other things in life.’ I said, ‘Really?'”
His parting words before sitting back down was “I love this company.” Davis will be back as a guest conductor.
Mazzola will soon begin rehearsals for Verdi’s Luisa Miller, opening Oct. 12. He was Principal Guest Conductor at Deutsche Oper Berlin for the 2018/19 season).