Articles tagged with: 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. ★★★
‘Rigoletto’ at the Lyric Opera: Not for the eye, but it’s a triple treat vocally, and that’s no jest
Review: Thanks to the vocally resplendent and emotionally engaged performances by baritone Quinn Kelsey as the hateful and paranoid court jester Rigoletto, soprano Rosa Feola as his sheltered and naïve daughter Gilda and tenor Matthew Polenzani as the sexually predatory Duke of Mantua, the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s take on Verdi’s “Rigoletto” pays significant rewards as psychological drama. But this bleak, objectified production created 20 years ago for the San Francisco Opera with sets by Michael Yeargan – and directed here by E. Loren Meeker – all but nullifies the work as theater. ★★★
Review: Musical artistry at 360º was on display April 9 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in a joint recital by tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass-baritone Eric Owens, with the marvelously adroit Craig Terry at the piano. Through a rousing program, the two singers showed their vast, enthusiastic and refreshingly diverse audience a broad and deeply felt repertoire of spirituals, traditional songs and Broadway favorites as well as the opera for which they are celebrated.
Review: Lest any insatiable lover of Bizet’s opera “Carmen” be put off by the idea of a “second cast,” as the Lyric Opera of Chicago has now changed the leads in its continuing production, let me put this as plainly as possible: The mid-run advent of mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili in the title role, with tenor Brandon Jovanovich now portraying the tragically smitten Don José, isn’t just hot stuff; it is scorched earth. ★★★★
Review: There was palpable energy at the Civic Opera House on March 9 when the Lyric Opera of Chicago presented “Celebrating Placido,” an evening of music and mirth with the remarkable Placido Domingo, who at age 76 still engenders that singular frisson felt upon hearing his first phrases as only the greatest vocalists are able to do.
Review: Love took a glorious beating in the final grand opera of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s season, but then it has been pretty much that way since October. Prince Tamino and Princess Pamina lived happily ever after, but otherwise things ended badly for the aspiring lovers of 2016-17. Now the Lyric gives us Tchaikovsky’s cynical anti-hero Eugene Onegin, brought to life in a devastating package of elegance and self-deluding condescension by baritone Mariusz Kwiecień. ★★★★
Review: There is much to recommend the new Lyric Opera production of Bizet’s “Carmen,” a joint venture with the Houston Grand Opera. Topping the list is mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova’s scorching performance in her role debut as the Gypsy femme fatale. But in the final act, where amid much splendor one anticipates a hair-raising pay-off, director-choreographer Rob Ashford loses his way. ★★★
Review: There is no Verdi at the Lyric Opera of Chicago this season, but there is plenty of Italian spectacle from the generation prior. Donizetti’s crazed “Lucia di Lammermoor” bowed earlier this season, and now comes Bellini’s “Norma,” the bel canto saga of a Druid high priestess betrayed in love. Sondra Radvanovsky stars in a majestic turn. ★★★★
Review: The ultimate holiday gift for arts lovers this season is Lyric Opera of Chicago’s rambunctiously retro world premiere production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” set triumphantly in the world headquarters of the baby boom. Which is to say, a backyard of the ’50s and ’60s, as seen through the eyes of a child. This nostalgic feat is an exceptional musical delight and a fine show for families of all ages. What makes this show giftable is its extended January run. ★★★★
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: The setting is Transylvania. Oh, wait a minute. I mean Schaumburg, and Bayreuth. I was confusing “Longer, Louder Wagner!,” the wild and crazy Second City-Lyric Opera of Chicago send-up of Wagner’s “Ring” operas, with the Mel Brooks-Gene Wilder film “Young Frankenstein.” Silly me. And yet…he is alive! ★★★
Review: For Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiece “Lucia di Lammermoor,” the Lyric Opera of Chicago has chosen well to wrap the dazzling young Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova in the vintage production of British director Graham Vick. Despite its age, there’s something very modern about Lucia’s murderous disintegration in Vick’s not-to-miss installment at the Lyric. The role of the innocent and doomed Scottish lass Lucia features one of the greatest mad scenes in all of opera. ★★★★
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.
Review: Even amid the multi-year run of successes the Lyric Opera of Chicago has enjoyed in its annual spring offerings of great American musicals, the current production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” is exceptional, a theatrical experience as visually and musically resplendent as it is emotionally true. ★★★★★
Review: The excitement surrounding Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s solo recital presented by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, on Feb. 26, was palpable even blocks away from the opera house, in an enormous din of anticipatory chatter in the parking garage elevator – much of it in Russian as that sizable Chicago community turned out in droves. The celebrated Siberian baritone did not disappoint.
Review: For the authentic meaning of music-drama, as an ideal melding of theater with the emotional accentuation of words buoyed by music, look no further than the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s riveting and vocally splendid production of Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet.” ★★★★
Review: There was a palpable sense of past, present and future in the Civic Opera House on Feb. 8, when the Lyric Opera of Chicago presented Richard Strauss’ exquisite 1911 opera “Der Rosenkavalier,” his domestic comedy of love and loss in the Mozartean vein. The tale swirls around the gentle crisis of a beautiful but lonely Viennese countess who feels her youth slipping away, sung by Illinois soprano Amanda Majeski, a promising singer at the threshold of a significant career. ★★★★
Review: The best way to experience a performance of Verdi’s “Nabucco” is to think like an actor thinks. Stay in the moment completely. Don’t overthink the logic, the plot complications, the evidence of history. Avoid those traps and the musical impact of “Nabucco” — which is currently on the boards at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where several mighty singing actors are doing terrific work – will thrill you to your bones.★★★★
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.
Digital Preview: With another Artic blast on the way, it’s a good time to check out the world’s top fine arts events available live or on-demand — Joyce DiDonato’s master classes at Carnegie Hall, a “Ring” in Vienna, a new cello concerto in Detroit. And the Lyric Opera of Chicago has just finished recording its new “Bel Canto” for a future PBS broadcast.
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: If it had been opening night for the Lyric Opera production of Franz Lehár’s “The Merry Widow,” one might have understood the stark contrast between the dismal walk-through of the first act and the sustained vivacity suddenly on display post-intermission. One might have chalked it up to a calming of collective nerves. But as this was the second performance, the first-night excuse hardly applies. I daresay the show is what it seemed to be: egregiously uneven. ★★★
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: 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. ★★★★★
‘Marriage of Figaro’ at Lyric Opera: Stellar voices prevail in a farcical take on Mozart’s comic gem
Review: If Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” is inherently and effectively a bittersweet comedy that edges into farce, the new production directed by Barbara Gaines that opens the Lyric Opera of Chicago season reframes it as farce that edges into cartoon. This “Figaro,” conducted by the Hungarian Henrik Nánási in his American debut, fares best where a uniformly strong cast of singers is allowed to stand and deliver Mozart’s witty, touching, brilliant and wise arias and ensemble numbers. ★★★★
Interview: The first venture for the Lyric Opera of Chicago this season is also the first Mozart ever taken on by Barbara Gaines, artistic director at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. And in the poignancy – and the comedy – of “The Marriage of Figaro,” Gaines finds the Bard’s own sensibility, his empathy and his compassion.