Articles tagged with: Lyric Opera of Chicago
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.
Review: Pianist Lang Lang’s recital May 9 at the Civic Opera House was, at its best, a display of brilliance of a high order. Taken end to end, it was also a curious affair. To say this lionized, still infectiously youthful Chinese pianist – he turns 33 on June 14 — is a technical wizard may be understatement. Lang Lang is one demonic virtuoso for whom the most daunting technical demands seem more like expressive opportunities than hazards of execution.
Feature Review: “The Property,” a new vest-pocket opera that burst onto the Chicago scene Feb. 25, is the sweet-spirited musical brainchild of a 28-year-old Minsk-born Polish composer Wlad Marhulets, who makes a living these days tooling music for films in L.A. Marhuletz came to the Lyric Opera by way of klezmer madness — not a disease, rather an exhilarating state of mind. Through March 5.★★★
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. ★★★★
Report: “The Passenger,” a late-blooming 1968 opera by the Polish-born Soviet composer Mieczysław Weinberg, will have its Chicago Lyric Opera premiere as part of a whirlwind of introduction in Austria, Poland, England, the U.S. and Spain. Director David Pountney and author Zofia Posmysz talk about why.
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: ★★★★ Rekindling the fire, even the sense of surprise, in an opera as frequently mounted as Puccini’s “Tosca” is no small trick. But that is precisely the triumph of the new production that opened Jan. 24 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago – a mesmerizing night of music theater imaginatively staged, perceptively conducted and gloriously sung. In her Lyric debut as Tosca, Russian soprano Tatiana Serjan displayed a voice of great beauty, flexibility and power, all marshalled to ringing drama effect.
Feature review: The Metropolitan Opera is the most international of houses, but there is something quintessentially American about the Saturday afternoon HD cinema broadcasts that are now part of its marketing arsenal. After attending a performance of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” at the Met, I caught the same production, broadcast live to cinemas on Dec. 13, starring German baritone Michael Volle as Hans Sachs, the master shoemaker, cobbler of poems and mender of hearts.
Review: The Lyric Opera’s revival of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” is a thing of beauty not to be missed. More than that, it’s a ringing affirmation of this iconic American stage work as a great opera. Bass-baritone Eric Owens empowers Porgy with a voice larger than life yet scales this poor, crippled, yearning character to the credible proportions of a man. His woman, in a fragile union forged from convenience and necessity, is soprano Adina Aaron’s lithe and sexy Bess, vulnerable and gorgeously voiced. ★★★★★
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. ★★★★
Interview: Robert Falls knows a complicated stage character when he sees one, and standing in front of him at the moment is no less intricate a figure than Mozart’s lady killer, Don Giovanni. Actually, notes Falls, artistic director at Goodman Theatre and stage director for the Lyric Opera’s season-opening production of “Don Giovanni,” it’s a different sort of killing that brings this prince of philanderers to his horrific end. The show runs Sept. 27-Oct. 29.
Interview: Soprano Susanna Phillips, hot from back-to-back Metropolitan Opera HD simulcasts that reached a couple of hundred thousand international viewers each, is heading into a week-long and half-unplanned stint in Chicago, where many classical music enthusiasts doubtless think of her as the auspiciously talented soprano from the Ryan Opera Center, Lyric Opera’s professional artist development program. But that was 2005-07. How great it must now feel to be in the shoes of this pure-voiced, luxurious-sounding singer at the top of her game.
Review:x There’s nothing like practice to turn an opera company into a viable musical theater producer, as the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s third venture into Broadway’s golden oldies clearly shows. “The Sound of Music” is the Lyric’s best effort in the classic musical genre to date, after “Showboat” in 2012 and “Oklahoma!” in 2013. ★★★★
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: Mieczysław Weinberg, perhaps the best Soviet composer you never heard of, was the “other story” at a Lyric Opera of Chicago press conference Jan. 17 when a new Wagner “Ring” Cycle was announced. But Weinberg’s recently revived opera, “The Passenger,” inspired by a Holocaust novel, is making the international rounds and will arrive at the Chicago Lyric in early 2015, as excitement grows for this prolific composer and esteemed friend of Shostakovich.
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.
Report: First, the German bass-baritone Falk Struckmann, singing the role of the evil Iago in Verdi’s “Otello,” lost his voice suddenly to an allergy flare-up during opening night of the Lyric Opera’s 59th season, causing a frantic search for the understudy. Now it’s the Otello’s turn. Johan Botha has dropped out of the production’s remaining performances. The South African heldentenor, plagued by severe back pain, has returned to Vienna for treatment. American heldentenor Clifton Forbis replaces him for performances Oct. 29 and Nov. 2.
Review: To behold the grand, airy set for “Madama Butterfly” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with its curvaceous walkway and layered, mat-like proscenium framing – on display even as the audience assembled — was to sense one’s expectations peak toward something special, uncommon, fine. What ensued was largely unremarkable, even unattractive in various aspects from conducting and singing to basic on-stage movement. ★★