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Emanuele Andrizzi said he’s honored and excited to conduct the Chicago premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s rarely performed opera Il Corsaro, scheduled for July 22 and 24 at Northwestern University’s Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St.

Emanuele Andrizzi, Music Director, Opera Festival of Chicago Credit: Opera Festival of Chicago

Andrizzi, co-founder and Music Director of the Opera Festival of Chicago (OFC), which is staging the production, said the 1848 opera has never been staged in the midwest.

“It’s a thrilling work filled with Verdi’s characteristic melodies, rhythms, virtuosic vocal lines and exhilarating choruses,” he said.

So why isn’t it better known? Andrizzi pointed out it was overshadowed by three of Verdi’s most-beloved works – Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata – which were written just a few years later.

The opera is based on a Lord Byron poem, The Corsair, about the life and adventures of a fictional pirate (or “corsair”). “Il Corsaro has many elements opera-goers love: fighting, betrayal, honor and an intricate double love story,” Andrizzi said.

The maestro was born in Rome and studied piano and composition as well as conducting, including two years pursuing his doctorate in conducting at Northwestern University. He lives with his wife and three children in Evanston.

He co-founded the Opera Festival of Chicago in 2018 to produce “undeservedly neglected masterworks from the Italian repertoire,” he said. At the beginning of the summer season the OFC presented a fairly obscure Rossini opera, L’Inganno Felice, in Chicago.

Andrizzi is also Director of Orchestras at the Chicago College of Performing Arts and has conducted worldwide. His career is replete with honors, including being named Conductor of the Year (college division) in 2021 by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

Why stage Il Corsaro in Evanston? “I love Evanston, I love Cahn,” he said. “It’s the best way I know to do something important for my hometown.”

More information and tickets are available on OFC’s website.

Les Jacobson

Les is a longtime Evanstonian and RoundTable writer and editor. He won a Chicago Newspaper Guild best feature story award in 1975 for a story on elderly suicide and most recently three consecutive Northern...

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  1. Maestro Andrizzi has brought together a truly thrilling international cast of incredible singers – who are also marvelous actors! This show is a must see – the *thrilling* tenor Jose Simerilla Romero, gorgeous Alejandra Sandoval, exquisite Christine Arand, and the darkly powerful bass Franco Pomponi! Do not miss it!