Articles tagged with: Andrew Davis
Second Look: It was soprano Janai Brugger’s scheduled mid-run insertion as Liù, in Puccini’s “Turandot,” that drew me back for a second look at the Lyric Opera of Chicago production. But while Brugger’s performance rewarded my reprise, the experience also underscored some important truths about this last of Puccini’s operas – and about the real merit of the Lyric’s success with it.
Review: A dark and mythical love story set long, long ago in an imaginary locale in China, Giacomo Puccini’s final opera, “Turandot,” has traditionally brought out the grand in grand opera. And so it does again in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s lavish production, which is dominated by a massive, eye-grabbing sculpture of a serpentine dragon that undulates across and through a steeply raked set with an array of other changing scenic touches. ★★★
Review: For a living, pulsating definition of Romanticism, look no further than the 25-year-old Georges Bizet’s opera “The Pearl Fishers.” Worlds away from the verismo terrain of “Carmen,” which would cap Bizet’s brief life just 12 years later, “Les pêcheurs de perles” is an exotic love poem set in ancient Ceylon, its soaring lyricism consummated in one man’s ultimate sacrifice offered to another in the name of both love and friendship. The whole seductive package – remote enchantment, grand singing, evocative costumes, stylized sets – comes together in a splendid production at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. ★★★★
Review: There are times in opera when great singing rises above problematic production. Voices triumph over Konzept. But not even a glorious performance by bass-baritone Eric Owens – or the exemplary musical leadership of Andrew Davis – could compensate for the sum of gruesome design and muddle-headed staging heaped upon Wagner’s “Die Walküre” at Lyric Opera of Chicago. ★★★
Review: Ambitious out of the gate, the 2016-17 Lyric Opera of Chicago season gave us Part I of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, with Rhinemaidens, giants and a dragon. In December the company will offer Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” with trials of fire and water, a feathered bird-catcher and another dragon. In between we have seen high-flying coloratura (“Lucia di Lammermoor”) and a new high-tech stage toy in Berlioz’ “Les Troyens.” Time now for some simple old-school tradition? Whyever not? The Lyric’s presentation of Massenet’s “Don Quichotte” is pure operatic comfort food. ★★★★
Review: Berlioz’s grandiose opera “Les Troyens” is a tale of two cities. The ambitious new production mounted by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the company’s first presentation of this prodigiously demanding work, is an epic venture with two outcomes. Musically, it is resplendent, a huge success by a stellar cast under the leadership of Andrew Davis; conceptually, which is really to say visually, this “Troyens” – The Trojans — struggles to bear its own leaden weight. ★★★
Review: If the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s enchanting production of “Das Rheingold” proves to be, like the opera itself, an augury of things to come, we’re in for a magical ride across the company’s four-year project to re-create Wagner’s epic tetralogy “The Ring of the Nibelung.” ★★★★
Review: Andrew Davis, music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and conductor of the company’s new four-year “Ring” cycle, which gets underway Oct. 1 with “Das Rheingold,” speaks with resolute pride about the focus of this prodigious enterprise. “We all wanted very much to make sure the characters were the most important thing,” says the maestro.
Review: A concert exhibition of “Stars of the Lyric Opera,” which brought down the curtain on this summer’s Grant Park Music Festival on Sept. 9, offered a promising augury of the Lyric’s impending season, which opens Oct. 1 with Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” – herald of the company’s planned “Ring” cycle.
Season Preview: Not many people can put a ten-year life plan on a single piece of paper. But Anthony Freud, general director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, has got his drill down when it comes to the properly balanced life of a grand opera company. Merrily goaded on Jan. 14 by music director Andrew Davis, who was clearly amused, Freud pulled from his pocket, in a tantalizingly brief “reveal,” a carefully folded, well-worn document crammed with the titles of dozens of operas on a grid. Here are the highlights.
Review: The true measure of Peruvian composer Jimmy López’s new opera “Bel Canto,” which received its world premiere Dec. 7 by the commissioning Lyric Opera of Chicago, transcends its check-list of merits as a skillfully wrought and thoroughly engaging work. It is a compelling tragedy expressive of humanity at its best and most aspiring, and at its most grievously imperfect. ★★★★★
Review: Tomasz Konieczny is Wozzeck, the low-ranking soldier who sinks into madness as he is subjected to scientific experiments, betrayed in love and persistently harrassed. As envisioned by director David McVicar and conductor Andrew Davis, the 1925 opera is as deeply unsettling visually as it is musically rich. Berg’s account of Wozzeck’s grotesque travails has a way of suddenly panning wide, as if to embrace us all in our human dissonance and complexity.★★★★
Preview: He could be talking about Puccini’s “La boheme” or Verdi’s “La traviata” or Bizet’s “Carmen,” but when Anthony Freud, general director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, says, “I would encourage anyone who has never experienced opera to give it a try,” he’s referring to none of the above. Freud means Alban Berg’s harrowing Expressionist music-drama “Wozzeck.”
Review: You could feel the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s crack troop of musicians and their super-flexible maestro Andrew Davis snap to alertness when the Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin ignored what he had just heard in the opening of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and simply went his own way in a performance Oct. 15 at Orchestra Hall.
Review: With its blindingly bright colors and brilliant musical hijinks, the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s current production of Rossini’s “Cinderella” plays out like a surreal dream that might possess one in the wee hours of the night. It makes perfect sense while it’s happening, zany and hypnotic at the same time. Rossini’s music is wrapped in a fanciful production that goes well beyond the boring rules of logic. ★★★★★
Review: The first impression of “The Passenger” by the Soviet composer Mieczysław Weinberg, whose Holocaust-inspired 1968 opera has been circulating the globe since its belated 2010 world premiere, is that of a major composer in his prime. Conducted with searing authority by Andrew Davis, the illuminating Lyric Opera of Chicago presentation of “The Passenger” seemed familiar right away. Weinberg was typically referred to as a lesser-known member of Shostakovich’s inner circle, but in fact he was on top of his world. ★★★★
Review: It’s a bleak, war-torn world that greets Wagner’s prodigal troubadour in the Lyric Opera’s potent, sensual and yet strikingly unromanticized production of “Tannhäuser.” Typical of a current trend, the Lyric version – created by Covent Garden’s Royal Opera and now seen in Chicago for the first time – brings the story into a timeless present. Though generally dark, this treatment also energizes, and vibrantly colorizes, the prologue’s protracted sex romp at the Venusberg. ★★★★
Report: You know that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner when the romantic couplings planned for the Lyric Opera’s 2015-16 season are the stuff of headlines. The game of love becomes a delicious frenzy when lots of money and a very attractive widow are at stake: Soprano Renée Fleming will be playing her “Merry Widow” title role to the hilt with baritone Thomas Hampson beginning Nov. 14 and into the holiday season. We provide details.
Review: To watch Lyric Opera’s “Capriccio” is to put one’s mind inside a blissful dream of wealth and privilege, where the toughest choices facing a glamorous Parisian countess — played by Renée Fleming — concerned which adoring, handsome and talented young man to endow with her philanthropy, and her bed. ★★★★
Review: A more appealing cast could hardly have been assembled for Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” than the vocally resplendent, good-looking singers who inhabit the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production and season opener. And for the most part, Mozart’s opera – dramatically dark and musically brilliant — is well served by director Robert Falls’ heated and funny approach to this tale of the world’s most infamous sex addict, whose recklessness and hubris finally bring him all the way down and then some. ★★★★
Review: Charting a memorable arc from the flustered panic of love’s first rush to the sorrowful tenderness of lovers whom death has parted, soprano Renée Fleming and tenor Jonas Kaufmann gave Chicago’s Lyric Opera loyalists quite the evening of music to treasure on March 19.
Review: Mozart died in 1791 just months after writing “La Clemenza di Tito,” about the first-century Roman emperor Titus and his struggle to rule with generosity of spirit. Performances are still a rarity, and the most successful aspect of the production at the Lyric Opera of Chicago is the unmistakable fineness of the music itself. ★★★
Review: The musical legacy of Antonín Dvořák has always held favor with the public and esteem among musicians. Until recently, however, few this side of Prague would have mentioned Dvorak’s opera “Rusalka” with his most important works, much less listed it with the greatest achievements in the operatic canon. But the Lyric Opera’s first-ever production of “Rusalka,” a musical fairy tale of consummate beauty and profound humanity, dictates acknowledgement of this opera in the first rank of music-dramas. ★★★★★
Report: Russian dramatic soprano Tatiana Serjan, who riveted audiences as Riccardo Muti’s Lady Macbeth with the Chicago Symphony in 2013, will return to the Windy City next January at the Lyric Opera of Chicago to sing another knife-wielder, Floria Tosca, the tempestuous diva who tries to outwit a tyrant and foil her lover’s assassination. The Lyric’s 60th anniversary season, announced Jan. 27, also will feature soprano and Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming in a signature role as Countess Madeleine in Richard Strauss’ final opera, “Capriccio.”
Report: With headliners Christine Goerke and Eric Owens — two breakthrough American Wagner singers that everyone is seeking – Lyric Opera of Chicago announced Friday that it will embark on a new David Pountney production of the “Ring” Cycle starring Owens as the great god Wotan and Goerke as Brünnhilde, his beloved Valkyrie daughter. The cycle’s four operas are to be unveiled one by one in consecutive seasons beginning in 2016-17, and then in total-immersion festival form, over the course of three weeks in April 2020.
Tortured soul of a Russian czar. 4 stars!