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“Giovanna d’Arco,” by Giusepppe Verdi

Joan of Arc September 21 at 7:30 p.m., September 25 at 7:30 p.m., September 27 at 7:30 p.m., and September 29 at 3:00 p.m. at the Harris Theater for Music & Dance Italian with English supertitles. 100 minutes, no intermission

Tickets: Prices range from $35 to $125. Reduced prices are offered to subscribers. First-time subscribers for the new 2014 – 40th Season, receive a 50% discount on season tickets. Tickets and subscriptions can be purchased by calling the COT Box Office at 312-704-8414 or online at


Joan of Arc is generously supported by Gregory J. O’Leary and Patricia A. Kenney, the NIB Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.

For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit


COT marks Verdi’s 200th birthday with the Chicago Premiere of his rarely performed JOAN OF ARC

Verdi’s seventh opera is a vivid portrayal of the iconic Joan of Arc, a woman sacrificing everything in fighting for her beliefs, faith, and sensuality.

CHICAGO – Chicago Opera Theater’s Chicago Premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s Joan of Arc places the audience directly in the midst of a play within a play in a newly conceived production by “avant-garde director for the masses” David Schweizer. With Suzan Hanson returning after her acclaimed COT debut as Madeleine in The Fall of the House of Usher to sing the title part in this opera, selected via poll by COT audiences to celebrate Verdi’s 200th birthday. COT’s production features Chicago’s New Millennium Orchestra conducted by its artistic director Francesco Milioto. Performances are held at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive: Saturday, Sept 21; Wednesday, Sept 25; Friday, Sept 27; and Sunday Matinee, Sept 29. Tickets are on sale now.

As a poignant statement attributed to Schweizer, “In a 21st century world still torn apart by military actions and the subsequent carnage of opposing religious beliefs, the historical “JOAN” and the Italian “JOAN” seem to melt together into a portrait of the perpetual, heart-rending consequences of religious fanaticism. Joan herself may have been pure of heart. But like so many other saints and martyrs, the world around her only shuddered and continued to destroy itself in her wake and by her example.” The last opera of the 2013 season, POWER OF LOVE – LOVE OF POWER, explores the meaning of personal sacrifice for the greater good illuminating how the Love of Power corrupts the Power of Love. Based on a play by Friedrich Schiller Joan is infused with Verdi’s high-octane vocal fireworks.

Joan of Arc (Giovanna d’Arco) premiered at the Scala in Milan on February 15th, 1845. Due to strict religious censorship, three months post Milan, the opera’s altered story was produced in Rome as Orietta di Lesbo. The Greek Isles as the new battlefield, Joan became a heroine of the Lesbians against the Turks. Both renditions have seen very little light on stage. In 1966 the US concert premiere was performed at Carnegie Hall and reappeared in 1996. Its first US stage performance was in 1976 by the now known New York Grand Opera and again in 1983 and 1995. COT is presenting Joan of Arc as a Chicago premier interpreted by the innovative Director David Schweizer to continue with MORE OF THE DIFFERENT!

DOT DEBUT: David Schweizer(Director) David is delighted to return to Chicago where some decades ago he directed the experimental theater piece Theatre X in a residency at the Goodman Theater. In the many years subsequently, he has directed an eclectic array of new theater, opera and performance projects both nationally and internationally. Recent opera theater work includes Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s The Mines of Sulphur at New York City Opera, The Greater Good, a world premiere by Stephen Hartke at Glimmerglass Festival, Britten’s Albert Herring at Gotham Opera, Viktor Ullmann’s Emperor of Atlantis and Verdi’s Macbeth at Boston Lyric Opera and the award-wining chamber operas of Rinde Eckert- Horizon and And God Created Great Whales both in New York and on tour. He has enjoyed a very fruitful creative relationship with Andreas Mitisek at Long Beach Opera where he directed Henry Purcell’s Indian Queen and Offenbach’s La Perichole both conducted by Andreas, and Vivaldi’s Motezuma, which they jointly adapted. Other Long Beach work includes Thomas Ades’ Powder Her Face and Michael Mymann’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Notable recent non-opera work/premieres of Charles Mee Jr’s Wintertime, William Hamilton’s White Chocolate, Melanie Marnich’s These Shining Lives, Mark Campbell’s Songs From an Unmade Bed, Tennessee Williams’ last full-length play In Masks Outrageous and Austere and revivals of Tony Kushner/Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline or Change, Jack Kirkland’s Tobacco Road, Sheridan’s The Rivals, and Schweizer’s own adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt – all in New York and/or at major regional theaters.

CAST: COT DEBUT: Steven Harrison (Carlo) Tenor. In 2010-2011, Harrison was Cavaradossi in Tosca, celebrating North Carolina Opera’s inaugural season and held the title role Werther at the Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, Czech Republic. He also made his UK debut as Florestan in Fidelio at Opera North. Internationally, his first appearance in Australia was his debut as Il Duca in Rigoletto at Opera Queensland. He also joined Taiwan’s National Symphony Orchestra for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. He then returned to Poland, where previously he had been enormously successful as Samson, and he recreated the title role of Chopin in a rarely performed opera by Giacomo Orefice, recorded on CD for commercial release.

COT DEBUT: Michael Chioldi (Giacomo) Baritone, has performed at nearly every major American opera house including: The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera. Internationally, he has traveled extensively in Japan, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Macau and Spain. Engagements in 2013 include La Traviata with Palm Beach Opera, Tosca with Hawaii Opera Theater, Falstaff with Chautauqua Opera, Salome with Utah Opera, and Don Carlo with Austin Lyric Opera. In 2012, his engagements include singing Il Conte in Le Nozze di Figaro with El Paso Opera and a return to Ft. Worth Opera to perform Scarpia in Tosca. In the summer he will travel to Chautauqua Opera for Manon Lescaut, he sings Scarpia once again in Tosca at Kentucky Opera, and Conte di Luna in Il Trovatore with Utah Opera in the fall. Early in 2011 at the Washington National Opera, Chioldi performed his EMMY Award winning role of Sharpless in an Opening Night performance of Madama Butterfly, conducted by Plácido Domingo.

COT RETURNING ARTIST: Suzan Hanson (Joan) Soprano, returns to COT after her debut as Madeleine in Philip Glass’ The Fall of the House of Usher. Suzan is a multi-faceted artist who combines work in Opera, Music Theater and Theater. Recent performances of Poulenc’s La Voix Humane (“Hanson’s singing was fresh and forceful…blazing dramatic fervor…” San Francisco Chronicle) added another role to her impressive list of operatic heroines, which include Cherubini’s Medea (in Suzan’s new adaptation), Cio-Cio San, Rosalinda, Tatiana, Pat Nixon, Floyd’s Susannah, Olympia-Antonia-Giulietta, Magda, Fiordiligi, and Donna Anna. Suzan has performed with companies such as Arena di Verona, Arizona Opera, Carnegie Hall, Edinburgh, Long Beach Opera, Maggio Musicale (Florence), New Israeli Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Theater, Sacramento Opera, San Francisco Opera, Virginia Opera. Frequently sought for new works, Suzan has originated many roles, including Eurydice in Orpheus X by Eckert, Hanako in Sound of a Voice by Glass and Madeline in Fall of the House of Usher by Glass. Theater roles include Lily in The Secret Garden, Maria in Wintertime, and Sharon on the National Tour of Master Class, opposite Fate Dunaway’s Maria Callas. Recordings: THE TENDER LAND (Koch), COYOTE TALES (Newport Classics).

ABOUT THE COMPOSER: GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901) Giuseppe Verdi is widely recognized as the greatest Italian musical dramatist; even today, his popularity as a composer of operatic works has arguably yet to be matched. In his lifetime he became a profound artistic symbol of Italian nationalism creating a most respected resume of artistic genius. Verdi was born in 1813 in Roncole, Italy and a man shall one dare to say, also thrived to create theater that engages curious audiences through adventurous opera experiences.

Verdi’s composition was inextricably linked with the practical theatrical aspects of his operas. He preferred to pick his own subjects, favoring works that had already proved their worth as spoken dramas, and made his decision of source material with a direct eye to the available performers. Similarly, he composed with his stars’ vocal capabilities in mind – Giovanna, for example, is dominated by an atypical soprano lead heavy with delicate ornamentation, likely inspired by the talented Erminia Frezzolini. He also sometimes radically altered or ignored traditional forms. However, much more often Verdi chose to manipulate forms from within, preserving their boundaries but expanding or condensing individual movements as the drama dictated.

ABOUT THE LIBRETTIST: TEMISTOCLE SOLERA (Ferrara, 1815 – Milan, 1878) Italian librettist and composer, between 1840 and 1845 composed four operas with his own librettos; none were successful. His fame as a librettist was affirmed only when he started working in collaboration with Giuseppe Verdi. Solera gave Verdi the librettos for Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio (1839), Nabucco (1842), Giovanna d’Arco (1845) and Attila (1840).

New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago: The musicians of the New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago, performing since 2005, are as versatile as they are virtuosic, bringing passion and a sense of adventure to the concert experience. The orchestra, led by conductor Francesco Milioto, boasts a repertoire that ranges from traditional and contemporary masterworks of classical orchestral and operatic music to genre-bending forays into live remixes, improvisations, world music, and multi-media performances.

COT DEBUT: Francesco Milioto (Conductor-NMO) makes his Chicago Opera Theater debut, with this unique production of Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco. Immediately following his work with COT, he will join the staff at Lyric Opera of Chicago as cover conductor for Verdi’s La Traviata. He has recently made his debuts at Opera Santa Barbara (Don Pasquale), Opera Southwest (La Traviata), and Portland Opera (Tosca). As an assistant conductor Mr. Milioto has worked at the Ravinia Festival, Los Angeles Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater. Mr. Milioto currently holds the positions of Co-founder/Conductor of the New Millennium Orchestra, Music Director of the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, Conductor of the Highland Park Strings, and Artistic Director/Conductor of Access Contemporary Music. He is particularly proud of his work with the New Millennium Orchestra, which he co-founded in 2005.

ABOUT CHICAGO OPERA THEATER Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is an innovative, nationally recognized opera company that inspires a diverse community through immersive and thought-provoking opera experiences. COT, established in 1974 by Alan Stone, is a founding resident company of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. New General Director Andreas Mitisek is known for his adventurous repertory, visionary leadership, and innovative audience-building initiatives. Experience MORE OF THE DIFFERENT with Chicago Opera Theater!

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