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Opera Festival of Chicago Announces Inaugural Season

June 8, 2021 | By Robert Massey
General Director

Features Staged Productions of “Il segreto di Susanna” and “Il tabarro”

Chicago, IL – More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled all live performances, opera returns to Chicago stages this summer with a new two-week festival. The inaugural season of the Opera Festival of Chicago will take place from July 24 to August 5, 2021 at performance venues across the city of Chicago and will feature fully staged productions of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s “Il segreto di Susanna” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Il tabarro”, as well as “Dante 700”, a vocal recital celebrating the 700th anniversary of the death of the famous poet, writer, and philosopher.

“We’re thrilled to offer a number of firsts in our inaugural season,” said General Director Robert Massey. “In addition to being one of the first companies to present live opera since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Festival is presenting the Chicago premiere of Wolf-Ferrari’s ‘Il segreto di Susanna’ and the first Chicago performance of Puccini’s ‘Il tabarro’ in 25 years.”

The Festival opens with “Il segreto di Susanna” (Susanna’s Secret), performed Saturday, July 24 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. This production marks the Chicago premiere of Wolf-Ferrari’s whimsical one-act opera of suspicious jealousy, titillating scandal, and happy surprises. The production, directed by Ella Marchment, features soprano Emily Birsan as Countess Susanna and GRAMMY-nominated baritone Stephen Powell as Count Gil. Emanuele Andrizzi conducts the Opera Festival of Chicago Chamber Players.

Closing the Festival is “Il tabarro” (The Cloak), performed on Thursday, August 5 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Thalia Hall in Chicago’s Pilsner neighborhood. Last performed in Chicago 25 years ago, Puccini’s heart-wrenching tale of tragic loss, faded love, illicit passion, treacherous betrayal, and a fatal fall from grace sails into town starring a cast of world-renowned soloists including baritone Franco Pomponi, tenor Christopher Colmenero, soprano Jennifer Schuler, and mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo. The production is directed by Ella Marchment. Emanuele Andrizzi conducts the Opera Festival of Chicago Orchestra.

On Wednesday, July 28 and Thursday, July 29 at 8 p.m., the Festival will present “Dante 700” at Artifact Events in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood. This program celebrates the prolific impact of Dante and his “Divine Comedy” on opera’s rich history and features an evening of operatic greats and hidden gems performed by Festival artists soprano Jennifer Schuler, tenor Allan Glassman, and Franco Pomponi, accompanied by Doug Han and directed by Brady Collins, in one of Chicago’s most exciting new performance spaces.

The Opera Festival of Chicago was founded to present Italian opera masterpieces that rarely grace the stage in the United States. In doing so, the Festival aspires to generate an inquisitive operatic appetite within Chicago audiences, make its work accessible to a wide audience, provide vital opportunities for young artists entering the profession, and highlight the immense talent that has originated from the Chicagoland area.

Individual tickets to Opera Festival of Chicago productions range from $30 - $75 and go on-sale to the public June 28. Subscription packages begin at $99 and are available now. For more information and subscription purchases, please visit




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