Review: “The Perfect American,” music by Philip Glass and libretto by Rudolph Wurlitzer, at Chicago Opera Theater through April 30. ★★★
By Kyle MacMillan
While the results were mixed, it’s not hard to understand what drew the Chicago Opera Theater to “The Perfect American,” a merger of two well-known, quintessentially American artists – composer Philip Glass and famed cartoonist, filmmaker and theme-park pioneer Walt Disney. Adding appeal are appearances by Andy Warhol and Abraham Lincoln, who returns in the suggested form of a yet-to-be-completed animatronic figure (realized here by puppet designer Sean Cawelti) and even a reference to Ronald Reagan, then governor of California.
Glass, whose 80th birthday is being celebrated across the classical music world this year, has to be included on any list of today’s most important operatic creators. In addition to “Satyagraha,” “Einstein on the Beach” and “Akhnaten,” which have become contemporary classics, he has composed more than a dozen other works in the form. “The Perfect American” premiered in 2013 at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain. Chicago Opera Theater presented the work’s Midwest premiere, a co-production with the Long Beach (Calif.) Opera, on April 22 at the Harris Theater. A second and final performance will be given April 30. Read the full story »