Category Archives: Current Events

EUGENE ONEGIN at the Met: Netrebko Redefines Tatiana

Some fans of Alexander Pushkin’s great and iconic verse novel Eugene Onegin can’t stomach Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky’s operatic version. Too much of the master Russian author’s brilliance is lost, they say, in the opera’s simplified libretto, written in only nine days. Pushkin’s 1833 novel is a text that “divides Russian literature into a ‘before’ and […]

The Goodman Theatre: Uncle Vanya , Our Contemporary

Todd Rosenthal’s sublime setting which greeted the audience entering the Owen theater alerted us to what was to come. Among the period pieces of furniture sat a 1950s-style blond wood arm chair and a chrome dinette chair. A 1920s-radio rested upon the piano and a goose-neck electric light roosted nearby. Then came the note by […]

Lyric Opera’s CARMEN: Ashford and Calleja Make History

“Bullfighting is the only art form that both represents something and is that thing at the same time: the matador’s elegant immobility in the face of the bull not only represents man’s defiance of death, it is a man defying death, and there are women who do it too.”[i] In Rob Ashcroft’s magnificent new telling of Bizet’s Carmen, the […]

Artistic Home’s BY THE BOG OF CATS . . . : Harrowing Irish Drama

Move over Lucia, Dido, and Norma! There’s a new operatic heroine in town. Marina Carr’s Hester Swane may not be a Scottish lady, or a Carthaginian princess, or a Druid priestess, but this down-and-out Irish tinker suffers more passionate abandonment by loved ones in her brief stage lifetime than all three opera divas suffer together […]

CST’s Love’s Labor’s Lost: A Charming Delight

Harold Bloom, Yale’s Sterling Professor of the Humanities, has a particular desire to see Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost: I have never seen a production of this extravagant comedy that could begin to perform to its vocal magnificence, but I always live in hope that some director of genius will yet deliver it to us. Marti […]

Raven Theatre’s ASSEMBLED PARTIES: A Doubter’s Christmas Carol

Christmas has been the occasion for two classic plays, Hamlet and Ibsen’s Doll’s House. Ironically, as the Christian Feast of the Nativity has become secularized, the occasion has been used by more and more contemporary playwrights to give dramatic resonance to their work. The late Harry Kondoleon’s Christmas on Mars, Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale, and […]

Lyric Opera: Chicago’s Third Great NORMA

As late as 1920, American musicologists considered Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma “an improbably old-fashioned, almost hurdy-gurdy work.” But thanks to Chicago sopranos, that opera has become a standard of the American operatic canon. Written when Bellini (1801-1835) was just thirty years old, Norma had played in Chicago since the mid-nineteenth century by various visiting opera companies. […]

The Irish Theatre of Chicago’s THE WEIR: “A strange [but wonderful] little evening”

When I lived on a five-acre farm in Maine, I found myself strangely fascinated with the behavior of male birds. It seemed that whenever a female swallow appeared the male swallows engaged in all sorts of madcap aerial displays, loop-d-loops, dives, deal falls, etc. On the other hand, when a female cowbird appeared, the male […]

LYRIC OPERA’S MAGIC FLUTE: A Metatheatrical Spectacular

Reviewing an 1879 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the anonymous Chicago Tribune critic noted, “it would be absurd to try to explain the plot…. All sorts of explanations have been attempted but, if anyone ever really knew what it meant, he died before he said anything about it. It is a hodge-podge, nonsense, and […]

Remy Bumppo’s PYGMALION: Run, Don’t Walk. Now.

If you think you might ever want to see Bernard Shaw’s famous comedy, Pygmalion, now is the time. Don’t wait. Head to the Remy Bumppo Theatre. You won’t find a better collection of actors finding every jot and tittle of comedy and drama in this sometimes-baffling play. Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is a peculiar example of […]