Articles tagged with: Chicago Opera Theater
Review: It’s not often that you can pull a forgotten gem out of the trunk, showcase it in a tasteful setting, and reveal it for the magnificently neglected thing that it is. Chicago Opera Theater has succeeded in doing us that favor with Tchaikovsky’s dreamy, naturalistic 1892 opera “Iolanta” – the composer’s last – performed by able forces at the Studebaker, a lovingly refurbished 740-seat jewel-box on Michigan Avenue that also dates from that same last decade of the 19th century. ★★★
Review: Many opera enthusiasts, many friends of Chicago Opera Theater, must have emerged from the company’s recent double bill of Donizetti one-acters, early and late, at the Studebaker Theatre thinking what I was thinking: Who knew? Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), a prodigious composer of bel canto operas, is remembered today essentially for a handful of works: “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “La favorita,” “The Daughter of the Regiment,” and “Don Pasquale.”But who ever heard of his late one-act comedy “Rita,” written two years before “Don Pasquale,” or his student melodrama “Il Pigmalione,” the work of an obviously gifted lad of 19?
Review: Through the 20th and 21st centuries, composers and librettists have pushed opera in exciting and unexpected directions, proving again the flexibility and richness of this enduring art form. A fresh example is Kevin Puts’ “Elizabeth Cree,” which offers something almost never seen before – a bloody, fast-action operatic thriller with a juicy plot twist. Presented in the ideally sized, 691-seat Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building, “Elizabeth Cree” is one of the most successful offerings from Chicago Opera Theater in recent years. ★★★★
Review: The Philip Glass-Rudolph Wurlitzer opera “The Perfect American” focuses on the last months of Walt Disney’s life as he agonizes over his impending death and looks back at his career and childhood, especially memories of his hometown, an idyllic Marceline, Mo., which clearly was the inspiration for Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland. In a production at the Harris Theater, it isn’t hard to see why Chicago Opera Theater was drawn to the work. ★★★
Review: When Swiss-born Ernest Bloch began to contemplate the creation of his first and only opera, “Macbeth,” he was an untested 25 and would turn 30 before his opus found footing at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. The opera then slipped into oblivion. What is surprising is how staggeringly good Bloch’s result is — for an opera that almost no one knows. ★★★
Review: When opera is really working as theater, you tend to forget you’re listening to sung speech as you lose yourself in drama’s thrall. That’s precisely the effect in Chicago Opera Theatre’s potent evening of one-act rarities: Viktor Ullmann’s darkly surreal “The Emperor of Atlantis” and Carl Orff’s wry parable “The Clever One.” ★★★★
Review: The Chicago Opera Theater and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra production of Duke Ellington’s late-in-life and largely unfinished Harlem street opera “Queenie Pie” became the casualty of an electrical fire that has temporarily shut down the Harris. The delay adds a footnote to the saga of frustrated restoration attempts that have dogged “Queenie Pie” and left its unfulfilled potential as much in limbo as ever. ★★
Review: Does the middling label “lesser,” in the habitually repeated rankings of Verdi operas, give presenters a green light to “fix” things that may not be broken? Stage director David Schweizer fell into that trap with the Chicago Opera Theater production of “Giovanna d’Arco.” From a musical standpoint, Verdi’s Joan of Arc opera was a stunning achievement by the 31-year-old composer. COT conductor Francesco Milioto got that. Schweizer, not so much. ★★
Preview: Chicago Opera Theater jumps into the Verdi bicentennial observance this weekend with its season opener, a relatively rare staging of the composer’s early “Giovanna d’Arco.” The stage has not generously embraced this odd riff on Joan of Arc’s life – and death. “It’s one of history’s most extraordinary, mind-bending true stories,” says stage director David Schweizer, “and the audience knows that. But the work is filled with rapturous music.”
Review: Bittersweet remembrance with a tango pulse hangs over the surreal mindscape of “María de Buenos Aires,” the operatic love story created – perhaps the right word is insinuated – by composer Astor Piazzolla and poet Horacio Ferrer, and staged with bold, evocative imagination at Chicago Opera Theater. ★★★★
Review: On paper this looks like a no-brainer: American opera’s most influential composer of the 20th century transforming a gothic horror tale by Edgar Allen Poe, the 19th century’s master of the macabre. You can almost taste the possibilities for sustained tension and terror. Goth drollery is needed, but COT’s twice-twisted tale meanders. ★★★
Even queens get caught in red tape.
‘Moscow, Cheryomushki.’ 4 stars!
It’s the phone call all struggling musicians hope for — the announcement of a competition prize complete with recording contract. For Wayward Sisters, a Baroque ensemble specializing in 17th-century music, the news lit up lines in Chicago and three other locales where its four members reside.