About The Opera

Hailed by the New York Times as “an opera of eloquence, momentousness, and intensity of expression... written from the heart,” The Consul is an essential modern opera. Starring Patricia Racette in her role debut as Magda, this production of Consul will be a new experience for all of a beloved opera.

Famed soprano Patricia Racette returns to COT (La Voix Humaine). Her work has been featured around the world, including frequent starring turns at the Metropolitan Opera and her celebrated album Diva on Detour

When John Sorel, a political dissident, finds out he’s wanted by the secret police, he makes a plan to flee the country. His mother, his wife Magda, and their infant child, arrive at the consulate seeking a visa and a way out. With pressure mounting and her child’s health failing, Magda desperately begs an audience of the consul before it’s too late. Gian Carlo Menotti’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opera takes on new life in our tense and relevant production.

Starring Patricia Racette
Directed by Andreas Mitisek

Performance History

The Consul is Gian Carlo Menotti's first full-length opera, written in response to the plight of refugees he met after World War II. It premiered March 1, 1950, in Philadelphia, starring international opera star Patricia Neway in a cast that included other notable names like Gloria Lane, Andrew McKinley, and Marie Powers. Not long afterward, it transferred to New York, where it ran successfully for eight months. It would go on to play internationally at the Cambridge Theatre and then La Scala in 1951.

Gian Carlo Menotti

Gian Carlo Menotti was born in Cadegliano, Italy in July of 1911. With his mother’s guidance, he began composing music at the age of 7. By the age of 11, he had written the words and music of The Death of Pierrot, his first opera. In 1923, he enrolled at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan before leaving Europe after his father’s death. He completed his formal musical studies at the Curtist Institute of Music in Philadelphia, under the tutelage of fellow Italian composer Rosario Scalero.

The Consul is Menotti’s first full-length work. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1950, and the Drama Critics Circle award in 1954.

His other operas include Goya (1986), The Hero (1976), Martin’s Lie (1964), The Saint of Bleecker Street (1954), The Medium (1946, at COT in 1992), and many more. He is perhaps most notable for Amahl and the Night Visitors, which he wrote for NBC in 1951 and is now a widely performed piece of opera repertoire.

Menotti was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in 1984, and won Musician of the Year from Musical America in 1991.

In 1984 Menotti was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the arts. He was chosen the 1991 "Musician of the Year" by Musical America. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 95.


Patricia Racette



Known as one of the great singing actresses of our time, soprano Patricia Racette continues to share her artistry with audiences around the world. Notes the Huffington Post, “In this moment, Patricia Racette commands the stage with an authority that is reminiscent of Tebaldi and Callas… Racette suspends time and transports the witness to rare heights of lyrical enchantment.”

Her 2016-17 season ignites with a triple run of the title role of Salome for the Metropolitan OperaLos Angeles Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera. She reprises the femme fatale for a semi-staged version of Salome with Minnesota Orchestra in the summer of 2017. Other engagements include her appearances at the Met in a role debut as Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Roberto Alagna as well as gala concerts in Vail, Colorado and Fort Myers, Florida featuring her celebrated album, Diva on Detour, an intimate evening of songs from Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Édith Piaf which is available for purchase and digital download from all fine music sources. Patricia also returns to San Francisco Conservatory in January of 2017 to present the pilot program of her intensive seminar “Integrative Artistry” following her command performance master classes last season.

In The Met: Live in HD, her performances of Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Peter Grimes have been seen in HD in movie theaters across the globe, with her portrayal of Madama Butterfly remaining one of the most successful broadcasts in the history of the series. Ms. Racette is also known for her vibrant role as host for many other HD transmissions for the series. Additionally, she continues to be sought after for master classes and workshops to foster artistry in the next generation of classical singers. 

She continues to appear regularly in the most acclaimed opera houses of the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera. Internationally, Ms. Racette has appeared at the Royal Opera House, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, the English National Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro Comunale di Firenze, Opera di Genova, Bayerische Staatsoper, Vienna Staatsoper, and the Saito Kinen Festival. 

On the concert platform, Ms Racette has appeared with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Dusseldorfer Philharmoniker, and the Cologne Philharmonic, the latter with whom she recorded Zemlinsky’s Der Traumgörge under the baton of James Conlon. 

A native of New Hampshire, Ms. Racette earned her Bachelor of Music degree from North Texas State University before joining The Merola Opera Program and Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera. Among her honors are the Richard Tucker Award, the Marian Anderson Award, Merola Distinguished Alumni Award, and the prestigious Opera News Award in 2010.  

Andreas Mitisek



Mr. Mitisek has been the General Director of Chicago Opera Theater since June of 2012. He has also been Artistic and General Director of Long Beach Opera (LBO) since 2003. A native of Austria, he served as Artistic and music Director of the Wiener Operntheater from 1990 – 1997, the foremost contemporary opera company in Austria. Mr. Mitisek has conducted at the Wiener Volksoper, the Komische Oper in Berlin, the festival “Wien Modern”, the Wiener Konzerthaus and Musikverein, and others.  He is also sought after as a guest conductor in North America, leading productions for the Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Vancouver Ope4ra, Austin Lyric Opera, Hawaii Opera Theater, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, amongst other. His work as director and designer for site-specific productions in parking garages, swimming pools, night clubs, and warehouses has become a successful hall mark of his work with LBO, and his first such production with COT, Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice, was critically and publicly acclaimed. He is dedicated to attracting new audiences to COT by exploring unorthodox venues and presenting new and rare works (a key attribute of his leadership at LBO). Mitisek has been named by Opera News as one of the 25 people that will be a major force in the field of opera in the coming decade. Mitisek was featured as a LA Tastemaker by LA Times Magazine in 2009, Arts Leader of the Year by the Long Beach Arts Council in 2009, and was highlighted as one of the “2012 People” by LA Weekly. Recent COT credits include: conductor, Thérèse Raquin; conductor, stage director and production designer, Maria de Buenos Aires; director and production designer, Orpheus and Euridice, La Voix Humaine & Gianni Schicchi; conductor, The Fall of the House of Usher.

Kristof Van Grysperre



Kristof Van Grysperre, a native of Belgium, has an international career as a pianist, chamber musician, vocal coach, and as a conductor. The Orange County Register hailed him as “gifted and stylistically impeccable” and described him as a conductor “with pugilistic power and sensitivity.”

Van Grysperre recently made his debut at New York City Opera, conducting Fallujah. At Long Beach Opera he conducted several critically-acclaimed productions such as CandideLa Voix HumaineHydrogen Jukebox and the world premiere of Fallujah, which was live broadcasted by KCET. As artistic director of Angels Vocal Art he conducted La Traviata, Anya17 and a Gran Gala di Verdi at the 2015 and 2016 summer festivals.

Over the past decade Van Grysperre built a repertoire of over fifty operas conducting performances for Opera Pacific, Baltimore Opera Studio, Intimate Opera Company, SongFest, USC Opera and Cal State LA.

As a vocal coach, Van Grysperre was engaged by the Tanglewood Music Center Vocal Program, the Aspen Opera Center and the Bakersfield Symphony. He established flourishing studios in Pasadena and Long Beach. As a pianist Van Grysperre collaborated with leading instrumentalists and singers, such as Angela Meade, Philip Webb, Juliana Gondek, Maria Newman, Suzan Hanson and Susan Mohini Kane. He recorded for the René Gailly and Phaedra labels, the Flemish and Suisse Radio and Television and K-Mozart. Van Grysperre taught at the California Conducting Workshop, SongFest and the University of Southern California, where he also served as acting music director of the USC Thornton Opera.

Van Grysperre has been honored with numerous awards and fellowships, including the prestigious Fulbright Grant. At the USC Thornton School of Music, he completed a Doctorate and two Master of Music degrees, all with highest honors, with major fields in keyboard collaborative arts and orchestral conducting. He also studied at the Conservatories of Liège and Ghent (Belgium) where he obtained Concert Diplomas for both piano and chamber music.


Audrey Babcock

The Secretary

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Audrey Babcock is an award-winning mezzo-soprano who is quickly gaining notoriety for her commanding, powerful performances as Carmen and her dark, hypnotic portrayals of Maddalena in Rigoletto. As Carmen, Ms. Babcock made her French debut with the Festival Lyrique-en-Mer and has performed the role with Florentine Opera, Nashville Opera, Florida Grand Opera, NewYork City Opera, San Antonio Opera, Knoxville Opera, Opera Delaware, Toledo Opera, and Utah Festival Opera where The Salt Lake Tribune wrote “Audrey Babcock's performance as Carmen was a spellbinding tour de force...from the moment she took the stage her self-assured characterization was mesmerizing...Babcock's caramel-hued mezzo was a pleasure...her supple tones caressed the notes, radiating earthy allure.”

Widely recognized as a choice singer for new works, Ms. Babcock has premiered several new operas including Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin (NY Premiere-Dicapo Opera), With Blood, With Ink (World Premiere-Fort Worth Opera), La Reina (American Lyric Theater, NY), The Poe Project (American Lyric Theater), and appeared as Mother in Winter’s Tale with Beth Morrison’s Prototype Festival in NYC in 2015.

Victoria Livengood

The Mother

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Grammy Award-winning Metropolitan Opera star, Victoria Livengood, has been hailed as “one of the leading singer-actresses of her generation.” Since her acclaimed Met debut with James Levine in 1991, the Thomasville, North Carolina native skyrocketed onto the opera scene and has become known for her dynamic portrayals in more than 120 Met performances, including the title role of Carmen opposite Placido Domingo. She was part of the cast of "Corigliano: The Ghosts Of Versailles," winner of the 2016 GRAMMY Award for "Best Opera Recording" (James Conlon, conductor; Joshua Guerrero, Christopher Maltman, Lucas Meachem, Patricia Racette, Lucy Schaufer & Guanqun Yu; Blanton Alspaugh, producer (LA Opera Orchestra; LA Opera Chorus), Label: Pentatone Music). Dr. Livengood has been named Alumni of the year by both alma maters, UNC-Chapel Hill and the Boston Conservatory of Music and holds an honorary doctorate from Jacksonville University. She is also an inductee into the North Carolina Musicians Hall of Fame. She is in demand for her highly acclaimed Master Classes across the globe and offers consultations and private vocal instruction when her schedule allows. Her extensive discography including her Grammy nominated performance with the London Symphony as well as her upcoming itinerary can be viewed on her official website at www.victorialivengood.com.

Justin Ryan

John Sorel

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Praised for his “commanding presence” (Opera News) and singing of “tremendous sympathy and charisma” (NY Classical Review), American baritone Justin Ryan has appeared with companies across the United States, making company debuts in the 2015 season with Opera Columbus, Lancaster Opera, and the Mississippi Opera. Engagements in 2016 included the title role in Wendy Taucher’s new production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville on Martha’s Vineyard, as well as debuts with the Connecticut Lyric Opera, as Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and The New York City Opera, where critics were unanimous in their praise for his strong portrayal of the painter Edward Hopper in Stewart Wallace’s surrealist opus, Hopper’s Wife. Justin performed the role of Walt Disney in last season's The Perfect American at Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater.

Cedric Berry

Secret Police Agent

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Cedric Berry, Award winning Bass Baritone whose experience spans Opera, Broadway, American Song Book, jazz and gospel, has performed with Los Angeles Opera, The Industry Opera, Long Beach Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival of Finnland, Banlieurs Bleues Festival of France and the Ravinia Music Festival, to name a few. He has appeared with Pacific Symphony, Arizona Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, Luckman Jazz orchestra, Pasadena Pops Orchestra, California Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Telemann Chamber Orchestra of Japan. He has also been the recipient of several awards including first place in the Metropolitan Opera Western Region Competition. Notable recent engagements include the lead role of Kublai Khan in Invisible Cities, an opera which was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist. For more information visit www.cedricberry.com. Cedric performed the role of Ron in last season's The Fairy Queen with Chicago Opera Theater.

Kyle Knapp

Nika Magadoff (The Magician)

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Tenor, composer, pianist. Operas: Andy Warhol/others, The Perfect American, Chicago Opera Theater. Jason, Jason and the Argonauts, Lyric Opera of Chicago; John Wilson, Scarlet Letter, Opera Colorado; Flute, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tobias, Sweeney Todd, Hawaii Opera; Almaviva, The Barber of Seville, Opera Theater of St. Louis; Ramiro, La Cenerentola, New Jersey Festival Orchestra. Opera companies; Palm Beach Opera, Pensacola Opera, Crested Butte Music festival, Ohio Light Opera.Concerts: Carmina Burana, NJ Festival Orchestra; Das Lied von der Erde Carnegie Hall. Recordings: Albany Records: Sousa’s El Capitan, G and S Patience and Mikado, Herbert’s The Only Girl. Naxos: Laitman’s Scarlet Letter

Vince Wallace

Mr. Kofner

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A native of St. Louis, Missouri, young American bass-baritone Vince Wallace, is a versatile performer with broad performing experience ranging from skilled ensemble performances to a variety of solo roles and orchestral appearances.  Currently based in Chicago, Mr. Wallace has appeared regularly with the Lyric Opera of Chicago since 2008; as a member of the ensemble, and as the Usher in Rigoletto. For the 2008/2009 season, Vince performed with ebothe the Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Fransisco Opera productions of Porgy & Bess in the ensemble; covering and going on to perform a small role with Lyric. He has performed with the Grammy Award-winning Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in several programs including their recent live rendering of the scores to The Lord of the Rings at the Ravinia Festival. Locally, he also performs the Grant Park Music Festival, William Ferris Chorale, Lakeside Singers, Bella Voce, and numerous churches in the area.

Previous work includes the title role in Le nozze di Figaro as a part of Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance, Superintendent Budd in Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, the Jailor in Tosca with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Benoit and Alcindoro in La boheme, both Leporello and the Commandatore in Don Giovanni with American Chamber Orchestra, The King in The King & I, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, and Uncle Max in The Sound of Music.  Solo orchestral performances include appearances as Pilatus in the St. John Passion and Judas in St. Mathew Passion.

Kimberly E. Jones

Foreign Woman/Voice on Phone

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Soprano Kimberly Eileen Jones is an alumna of the Ryan Opera Center with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. With COT, she performed the role of Titania in The Fairy Queen and Dora in The Invention of Morel. Her performances there include the slave girl, Margru, in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ Amistad, which was released nationally on the New World recording label. Kimberly performed the title role in this season’s The Fairy Queen. She also portrayed the feisty Olga in Fedora, Princess Xenia in Boris Godunov, and the spitfire Despina in Cosí fan tutte student matinee performances. With the Ryan Opera Center, she portrayed Laetitia in Menotti’s Old Maid and The Thief. Kimberly performed in Houston Grand Opera’s colorful production of the Magic Flute (Papagena), and reprised her role of Xenia in Boris Godunov. Also with Houston, she participated in their production of Porgy and Bess, as Clara. This tour graced the international stages of La Scala in Milan, the Bastille in Paris, and the Bunkamura in Tokyo, Japan. For her portrayal of Clara, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the NAACP Awards.

Kira Dills-DeSurra

Vera Boronel

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Kira Dills-DeSurra (mezzo-soprano) is a recently graudated Young Artist with Chicago Opera Theater. Recently with COT she has sung the Nurse and Secretary in Glass’ Perfect American (Long Beach Opera and COT), Lysander (cover)/ Ensemble (The Fairy Queen), Isolde of the White Hands (Le Vin Herbé), La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi), Cecilio (Cover)/Chorus (Lucio Silla), and Mary (Cabildo, Chicago Premiere, COT Young Artists). Other roles include: Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette), Chewy (Hand to Mouth, World Premiere), Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte) and Mercédès in Bizet’s Carmen (Central City Opera). Ms. Dills-DeSurra hails from Petaluma, CA and is an alumnus of Roosevelt CCPA (MM) and USC (BM).

Zacharias Niedzwiecki

Assan/First Plainclothesman

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Zacharias Niedzwiecki, a Michigan native, attended Michigan State University for his undergraduate degree. He performed in numerous productions with Michigan State University Opera Theater, including the collegiate premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath as Connie Rivers, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance as The Pirate King, Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann as Schlémiel, Kurt Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel as Jimmy/Cypress Stark, and Puccini's La Bohème as Colline. He performed in two productions with Spiro Productions and The Other Mirror's partnership production of Claude-Michel Schönberg's Les Misérables as Javert, as well as appearing with Opera Grand Rapids in its Emerging Artist Program. Zacharias is in his second year as a member of the Professional Diploma in Opera Program at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts in conjunction with Chicago Opera Theater. He made his debut last season with Chicago Opera Theater in Frank Martin’s The Love Potion as Duke Hoël, covered the role of Oberon in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera, and appeared in the US premiere of Philip Glass’ The Perfect American. He studies with Judith Haddon.

Lani Stait

Anna Gomez

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Soprano Lani Stait is a second-year young artist with Chicago Opera Theater. A native of Annandale, Virginia she now calls Chicago her home. This year with company she will be featured as Anna Gomez/TheConsul, and appearing in Il pigmalione & Rita. Last season she was featured as Isolt/The Love Potion and appeared in Fairy Queen and The Perfect American.

This summer Lani performed with the Cincinnati Opera chorus in Opera in the ParkDie Zauberflote, and La Boheme. Lani also recently won first place in the highest division of the NATS competition, and was a semi-finalist and Bravo Award recipient in the Bel Canto Foundation young artists competition. In Chicago, she has also appeared as Suor Angelica/Suor Angelica (Opera West), and in concert with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra.

Lani is an alumna of University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance, as well as University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.



  • Performances

  • Nov. 4
  • Nov. 10
  • Nov. 12
  • Venue

  • The Studebaker Theater
    410 S Michigan Ave
    Chicago, IL 60605
  • Duration & Language

  • Performed in English with English supertitles

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Andreas Mitisek,
Stefan Edlis & Gael Neeson Artistic Director

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70 E. Lake Street Suite 415 • Chicago, IL 60601 • Box Office: 312.704.8414 • Administrative: 312.704.8420 • E-Mail: [email protected]