Category Archives: Opera

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 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 […]

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 […]

LYRIC OPERA’S DER ROSENKAVALIER: The Mystery of Time Passing

In April 1945, when the US army was requisitioning Richard Strauss’s villa in the Bavarian Alps, the frail 81-year-old composer emerged, blinking. Many years had passed during which the world had seen incredible changes, but the maestro’s soul was intact: “I am Richard Strauss, the composer of Der Rosenkavalier.” Nostalgia informs the world out of […]

LYRIC OPERA’S NABUCCO ROCKS THE HOUSE

Prayer was certainly a large part of the young composer’s life in 1841. The twenty-eight-year old’s wife and two children had suddenly died, his own health was precarious, and his most recent opera had been a dismal failure. Out of this plagued life came his first triumph, Nabucco, the tale of the people of God,  […]

Lyric Opera’s Bel Canto: The Music, The Music, The Music

“It has a tremendous variety of expression, of musical ideas. It has a virtuoso quality to it. It has very driven and barbaric moments about it, very lyrical moments, very sensual moments. It has chamber music in the midst of all this bombastic stuff. It’s incredibly exciting.” The words of Leonard Bernstein’s former pupil Yakov […]

Lyric Opera’s The Merry Widow: ENCHANTMENT

Just about midway through Slovak composer Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow, the heroine, Hannah Glawari, sings a folk tale which not only reveals her strategy for winning the mating game she’s playing with old beau Count Danilo Danilovich, but also discloses how this beloved chestnut of the musical theater can continue to exert its great […]

Lyric Opera’s WOZZECK: Apocalypse Now

Alban Berg’s Wozzeck is the Guernica of the opera world -apocalyptic, boldly declaring a new way of representation, and resistant to simple interpretation. While some viewers called Guernica “a hodgepodge of body parts that any four-year-old could have painted”, and the dream of a madman, others championed it as a landmark in art history. Berg […]

Lyric Opera’s CINDERELLA: An Unexpected Joy!

Who, other than an eight year old girl and Gioachino Rossini, could have guessed that Cinderella could be so much fun! Certainly not me. The Lyric Opera’s production of the  Rossini classic, as produced by the Spanish team of Joan Font, director, Joan Guillen, sets and costumes, Albert Faura, light, and Xevi Dorca, choreography, arrived […]