Category Archives: Art

Chicago Opera and CITIZEN KANE

“Samuel Insull built the Civic Opera Building for his mistress, an opera singer.” “Samuel Insull built the Civic Opera Building for his mistress, Mary Garden, an opera singer.” These two similar tales are told daily by Chicago River tour guides. And these two tales are totally false. The only truth in the tales is that […]

COMPANY at WRITERS THEATRE: Musical Theatre at Its Best

When God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” He provided the stimulus for Stephen Sondheim’s landmark musical Company. God made the human being as a social animal. Without human interaction, newborns shrivel, and the elderly wither. Meanwhile, those in between seek to avoid the deadliness of being alone. Psychologist John Cacioppo […]

THE ARTISTIC HOME’S THE SEAGULL: GREAT CHEKHOV, GREAT THEATER

          I will stake anything you like that these hidden dramas and tragedies in every character of the play, given a skillful, extremely conscientious production, without banalities, can enthrall the auditorium. With those words the young Russian stage director Vladimir Nemirovich Danchenko, convinced the fledgling playwright Anton Chekhov to entrust his first play, after a […]

THE LION IN WINTER: Promethean Excellence at the Athenaeum

Winning fifteen awards out of eighteen nominations in 1968, did more than revive the fortunes of James Goldman’s 1966 play, The Lion in Winter. The play had closed after 92 performances, even though it boasted of a cast which included Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris, Christopher Walken, and James Rado, whose book for the historic musical […]

LYRIC OPERA’S THE KING AND I: AN OPULENT BEAUTY AND THE NICE GUY

At the heart of all of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s great musicals – Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, and The King and I – is the tale of Beauty and the Beast. Each Beauty – Laurey, Julie, Nellie, Maria, Anna – transforms the macho wild Beast in their life – helps their man […]

LYRIC OPERA’S ROMEO AND JULIET: Swashbuckling Beauty

Charles Gounod’s opera, Romeo and Juliet,  has a long and important relationship with Chicago. When the Auditorium Theatre premiered its very first opera on December 10, 1889, Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet was the choice. The production starred Adelina Patti, the woman whom Verdi called “the finest singer who ever lived”. Ms. Patti received $3000.00 and […]

DON GIOVANNI: A Lyric Opera Triumph

Chicago’s great writer Saul Bellow loved the Lyric Opera. In 1979 he wrote a preface to a celebration of the opera company in which he quoted long-time Chicago drama critic, and opera enthusiast, Claudia Cassidy: “Without the Lyric,” she tells us, “Chicago would be underprivileged. A city, she continues, “is more than tall buildings, crowded […]

BIRDMAN: Macbeth’s Movie

Birdman’s artists – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Antonio Sanchez, Emmanuel Lubezki, Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione – will be nominated for all of the major film awards, and they probably deserve to win. But Birdman is deliberately unlike other films: Birdman seeks to have no meaning. That’s right. The artists deliberately conspire to […]

In Lakewood

Theurgy, Art, and the Kingdom of God

In The Fiery Serpent, I suggest that a “Christian” play or film is a story of redemption, a story in which the Kingdom of God breaks into a fictional character’s life, as it can in an actual person’s life. While reading The Unfading Light   [i], I discovered that the Russian Orthodox theologian, Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944) […]