Category Archives: The Gospel of the Kingdom

VIRGINIA OPERA PRESENTS RARE SAMSON AND DALILAH

The occasion of the Virginia Opera’s production of Camille Saint-Saens’ 1877 SAMSON AND DALILAH underscores the fact Camille Saint-Saens’ work is one of only a handful of operas based on Biblical stories. Why is that? Many historical factors account for the phenomenon. First, during the late sixteenth century, when opera was being developed, the Pope, […]

TIDEWATER STAGE’S THE CHRISTIANS: ONE HELLUVA SHOW

Few of the “educated elite” in society still believe in the reality of Satan. C.S. Lewis exposed Satan’s now completed program to spread disbelief in The Screwtape Letters[i]: I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

ROBERT JOFFREY’S THE NUTCRACKER: Christmas in the Shadow of Death

Chicago’s Auditorium Theater is the perfect setting to view Robert Joffery’s jarring, beautiful, and profound interpretation of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker danced brilliantly by his namesake company, and played wonderfully by the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. Adler and Sullivan’s magnificent theater interior was meant “to express growth and decadence as the two great cyclic […]

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 […]

BURNING BLUEBEARD: Tidings of Great Joy

Question: What do you get when you mix the macabre folk tale of a serial killer husband, the greatest theater fire in history, and Christmas? Answer: One of the most profound and moving theatrical events you are likely ever to see: Burning Bluebeard. Since the late eighteenth century, English theaters had been offering a Christmas […]