Category Archives: History

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 […]

Lyric Opera’s DON QUICHOTTE: A Hymn to a Holy Fool

A dying Jules Massenet wrote Don Quichotte knowing the woman he loved, soprano Lucy Arbell, would play the courtesan-lady Dulcinee after his death. Rather than create his own libretto from Cervantes’ mammoth novel, Massenet used Jacques Lorrain’s bastardized and abridged verse play, Le Chevalier de la longue figure, for his libretto. La Lorrain’s short play […]

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 […]

Lyric Opera’s THE TROJANS: The “Most Profoundly Moving Experience”

“For grandeur of conception, nobility of tone, and imaginative range [Berlioz’ The Trojans] has scarcely a rival in operatic history.”[i] The words of the great musicologist Winton Dean would seem impossible to fulfill in production. But, after seeing the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s brilliant production of The Trojans, Mr. Dean may have been understating the […]

Interrobang’s THE AMISH PROJECT: An Icon of Forgiveness

In his famous Law of the Drama, the French critic Ferdinand Brunitiere (1849-1906) insists on the primacy of  “conflict” in dramatic literature: “Drama is a representation of the will of man in conflict with the mysterious powers or natural forces which limit and belittle us; it is one of us thrown living upon the stage […]

CST’s King Charles III: The Tragedy of a Virtuous Man

Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper was my favorite novel as an elementary school student. I easily identified with young Tom Canty and saw the young Prince of Wales as my own contemporary Prince of Wales, Charles, whom I was fascinated to learn was but six weeks younger than I. I have maintained my […]

Lyric Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor: Superlative Voices Reign Supreme

+ You can hear it in films – not just in The Great Caruso (1951), but also in The Departed (2006), Man on the Moon (1999), two Mickey Rooney  movies, Captain January (1936),Little Women (1933), Scarface (1932) , with the Marx Brothers in Animal Crackers (1930), and even in the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979). […]

Remy Bumppo’s Pirandello’s HENRY IV: A Modern Masterpiece Given Life

Though considered a major modern playwright, the plays of Luigi Pirandello are rarely produced. The reasons are numerous. First, the large casts require large budgets. Second, the plays’ philosophical facades are difficult to crack. And third, directors struggle to find a production style which makes the plays both clear and exciting to an audience. Consequently, […]

CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE’S TUG OF WAR: CIVIL STRIKE- Suffering Outside of Divine Providence

From his earliest plays to his final works, William Shakespeare confirmed his world’s confidence in Divine Providence. Divine Providence is the means by which God leads his creatures to their destined end. To thwart or reject this movement, is to risk the attainment of one’s destiny. Man is assured of Providential guidance, if, in conformity […]