Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Lyric Opera of Chicago and composer Jimmy López are the recipients of the Prince Charitable Trusts 2013 Prince Prize for Commissioning New Original Work. The award represents the first time ever the Prince Prize has been given for an opera commission. The $75,000 award ($25,000 of which goes to the composer) was awarded for the opera Bel Canto, which is based on the best-selling Ann Pachett novel of the same name.
The opera will receive its world premiere at Lyric in December of 2015 and will star renowned soprano Danielle de Niese in the central role. The libretto is by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. Bel Canto will be directed by Kevin Newbury and conducted by Lyric Opera music director Sir Andrew Davis. The $75,000 Prince Prize is awarded each year to a major cultural institution for the commissioning of a promising mid-career artist. The intent of the Prize program is to serve as a catalyst for creative collaboration between up-and-coming and Chicago’s highest caliber arts organizations – to provide an opportunity to showcase both the artists and Chicago’s world class performing arts companies. Established in 1947 from the bequests of Frederick Henry Prince (1859 - 1953) and his wife, Abbie Norman Prince (1860 - 1949), funding decisions by Prince Charitable Trusts are made on the basis of the organizational and artistic excellence of the producing company and the promise of the creative artist. The three trusts operate as a family foundation with giving programs in the city of Chicago, the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and the state of Rhode Island. The Prince Charitable Trusts sponsored Lyric’s Ring cycle and Gotterdammerung in the company’s 50th-anniversary season. Meredith Wood-Prince (Mrs. Patrick) and Diana Prince (Mrs. Frederick H.) are members of the Lyric Opera Women's Board. “This award is extraordinarily encouraging for all of us involved in the creation of Bel Canto, and it’s a reminder that we must continue striving for excellence,” says composer Jimmy López. “I’m deeply grateful for this recognition. No effort is being spared to ensure that Chicago audiences enjoy a world-class premiere in 2015.” Ann Pachett’s novel Bel Canto was inspired by a 1996-97 incident when revolutionaries held hostages at an ambassador’s house in Lima, Peru. Over the course of the book, the captive audience is drawn together by nightly recitals from an American soprano named Roxanne Coss. The novel won Patchett the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2002 and sold more than one million copies. Lyric announced the commissioning of Bel Canto (López’s first opera) in early 2012 as part of its Renée Fleming Initiative. The world premiere will be Lyric’s first since 2004’s A Wedding and Lyric’s seventh since 1961. Jimmy López’s music has been heard at Carnegie Hall and the Aspen Music Festival, and performed by prestigious orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston and Atlanta symphony orchestras, and by the leading orchestras of Chile, Peru, and Finland. TheNew York Times has described López as “an expert in orchestration,” while the Chicago Sun-Times called him “one of the most interesting young composers anywhere today.”