Showing posts with label Lyric Opera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lyric Opera. Show all posts

Friday, January 31, 2020

New production of 42nd Street Makes Its Chicago Premiere at Lyric Opera House May 29 - June 21, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Broadway stars Norm Lewis and Faith Prince to lead Lyric Opera of Chicago's 42nd Street

Broadway stars Norm Lewis and Faith Prince will headline Lyric Opera of Chicago’s premiere of Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s song-and-dance spectacular 42nd Street, presented from May 29 – June 21, 2020 at Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago (press opening May 30, 2020).

Norm Lewis and Faith Prince take on the roles of famed Broadway director Julian Marsh and Dorothy Brock, the seasoned diva who sees her star status eclipsed by a rising newcomer. Lewis recently appeared in the NBC television special Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert! alongside John Legend and Sara Bareilles. He received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle award nominations as Porgy in The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. In 2014, Lewis made history as the first African American to play the title role in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Other recent credits include the Broadway revival ofOnce on This Island and the title role in Sweeney Todd Off-Broadway, for which he received an AUDELCO Award. He is starring in Spike Lee’s upcoming Netflix film Da 5 Bloods.

Prince is a Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award winner for her performance as Miss Adelaide in the 1992 Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls. She most recently starred on Broadway in Disaster! the musical and as Miss Hannigan in the Broadway revival of Annie. She was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for both A Catered Affair and Bells Are Ringing, and was nominated for Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. Prince recurs on ABC’s Modern Family, and previously reurred on ABC’s Melissa & Joey and Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva. Prince appeared in Chicago in the new musical version of the hit movie First Wives Club in 2015. 

Single tickets for 42nd Street start at $37 and are on sale now at, in person at the Lyric Opera House box office, or by calling 312-827-5600.

Stephen Mear directs and choreographs this high-energy production featuring members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Gareth Valentine. Set and costume designs are by Peter McKintosh, with lighting designed by Chris Davey and sound designed by Mark Grey.

Tony Award-winning song-and-dance spectacular 42nd Street centers on a starry-eyed young dancer named Peggy Sawyer who leaves her home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to audition for the new Broadway show Pretty Lady, staged by notorious director Julian Marsh. When leading lady Dorothy Brock breaks her ankle, Peggy takes over and rises from chorus girl to star status overnight. 42nd Street is filled with sensational tap numbers and memorable melodies like “Lullaby of Broadway,” “We’re in the Money,” “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” “Sunny Side to Every Situation,” “Young and Healthy,” and the famed title song. With music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer, and a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, the stage musical is based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and Busby Berkeley’s 1933 movie.


Norm Lewis has received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle award nominations as Porgy in The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. He recently appeared in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert! and in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island. In 2014, Lewis was the first African American to play the title role in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. His nine other Broadway shows range from Les Misérables and Chicago to Miss Saigon and The Who’s Tommy. He has appeared extensively off-Broadway and in many major regional theaters nationwide, including in the title role in Sweeney Todd (AUDELCO Award). On PBS he has been seen in Norm Lewis: Who Am I?, New Year’s Eve: A Gershwin Celebration, Les Misérables: The 25th Anniversary Concert (as Javert, a role he also played in London’s West End), Show Boat, American Voices with Renée Fleming, and First You Dream – The Music of Kander & Ebb. Lewis has a recurring role in the VH1 series Daytime Divas and has previously been featured in television’s Scandal, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bull, Chicago Med, Gotham, The Blacklist, and Blue Bloods. Lewis stars in Spike Lee’s upcoming Netflix film Da 5 Bloods.

Faith Prince has been dazzling Broadway since winning the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards as Miss Adelaide/Guys and Dolls. She most recently starred on Broadway in Disaster! and as Miss Hannigan in the revival of Annie. She was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for both A Catered Affair and Bells Are Ringing, and was nominated for Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. Other important credits include The Little Mermaid, Nick & Nora, Little Me, The Dead, and Noises Off (Broadway); Billy Elliott (national tour); Terrence McNally’s Unusual Acts of Devotion (world premiere, Philadelphia Theatre Company); and First Wives Club(Chicago’s Oriental Theatre). Prince currently has a recurring role on ABC’s Modern Family. Among her other extensive television credits are Spin City, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, Faith, House, Monk, and Law and Order. Film appearances include Our Very Own, Picture Perfect, Dave, and My Father the Hero. Prince, who has toured Australia in her original show Moving On and in concert with her Annie co-star Anthony Warlow, works frequently with the Boston Pops, Utah Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, and Philly Pops. Her new album, Total Faith, was recently released by Broadway Records.

About Lyric
Lyric Opera of Chicago is committed to redefining what it means to experience great opera.  The company is driven to deliver consistently excellent artistry through innovative, relevant, celebratory programming that engages and energizes new and traditional audiences.  

Under the leadership of general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, music director designate Enrique Mazzola, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric is dedicated to reflecting, and drawing strength from the diversity of Chicago. Lyric offers, through innovation, collaboration and evolving learning opportunities, ever more exciting, accessible, and thought-provoking audience and community experiences.  We also stand committed to training the artists of the future, through The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center and to becoming increasingly diverse across our audiences, staff, programming and artists - magnifying the welcoming pull of our art form, our company, and our city.

Through the timeless power of voice, the splendor of a great orchestra and chorus, theater, dance, design, and truly magnificent stagecraft, Lyric is devoted to immersing audiences in worlds both familiar and unexpected, creating shared experiences that resonate long after the curtain comes down.

Join us @LyricOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #Lyric1920 #LongLivePassion.

42nd Street is a production created by the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris.

Lyric presentation of Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s 42nd Street generously made possible by Lead Sponsor The Negaunee Foundation, cosponsors The Davee Foundation and Donna Van Eekeren and Dale Connelly, and Lead Corporate Sponsor Invesco QQQ.

Major in-kind audio support provided by Shure Incorporated.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Review of Lyric Opera Concert: “Rising Stars in Concert”

Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Guest Review
By Catherine Hellmann 

The weather outside was frightful (about 5 degrees, ok, so it is finally winter in January in Chicago), but the atmosphere at the Lyric Opera on Sunday afternoon was delightful. The “Rising Stars in Concert” concert is an impressive “Thank you!” to the donors of the Lyric. 

The 2019-20 Ensemble of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is a very talented group of performers. Selected from over 400 auditions, the elite group consists of 11 singers and one pianist. According to their website, the program “prepares emerging singers and apprentice coaches for careers in opera by providing unique, comprehensive training.” Since 1974, the Ryan Opera Center has been recognized as one of the premier training grounds in the world for emerging talent. Young singers are able to study with powerhouse talents, like Renee Fleming, and perform supporting roles at the Lyric in actual, full-scale productions. What a gift for an aspiring star! 

The singers study foreign languages in their apprenticeship so they are able to sing in French, German, and Italian as well as English. The program on Sunday included arias by Berlioz, Gounod, Richard Strauss, Rossini, Donizetti, as well as Victor Herbert and Ralph Vaughan Williams. So, check all four boxes on languages! 

There were dramatic pieces, like Lauren Decker (in her awesome red shoes!) singing Verdi in her rich contralto. She gave me goosebumps when she sang the words “Be silent,”  in her very low, deep voice. Mario Rojas sang a lovely romantic piece from Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette in his gorgeous tenor voice. I would have climbed down from my balcony to join him! 

Emily Pogorelc was a standout in her princess white gown singing Bellini’s aria from Act Two of La sonnambula. Her voice with its stunning trills and arpeggios was the cream in my coffee (which sounds like Cole Porter, but it’s Ruth Etting, because I looked it up...thanks, Google!) 

There were comical pieces as well. My favorite was a duet by Bass Anthony Reed and Bass-Baitone David Wiegel by Rossini from Il turco in Italia where two men talk about selling a wife. The one gent determines if he can’t buy the other guy’s wife, he will abduct her! My favorite line was: “When marriage isn’t working, the husband becomes a salesman.” The men intend to duke it out, so they stretch and prepare physically with one of them falling comically as he attempts the splits. The other hurts his back while warming up, so both end up lame at the conclusion. 

After intermission, there was a piano quartet playing Gabriel Faure’s Piano Quartet No. 1, Op. 15, Fourth Movement with pianist Madeline Slettedahl. She says in the program: “It’s been a privilege to perform frequently with my talented singing colleagues both here in Chicago and abroad, developing both musically and interpersonally in a field that has so much to say about the human experience.”  

A video played with departing singers being interviewed about their experiences with the Ryan Opera Center. One singer stated that these four years immersed her in everything and allowed her to “be prepared for anything” while growing as an artist and as a person.   

Another singer grew up attending the Lyric Opera since high school, so being in the program was like “coming home.” 

The show ended with Victor Herbert’s finale from Naughty Marietta. When the singers burst into: “Ah! Sweet mystery of life, at last I found you!” there were chuckles in the audience, probably recalling Mel Brooks’ amusing take on this song in Young Frankenstein. “‘For ‘tis love, and love alone, the world is seeking!” 

The world also needs more glorious music, and the Lyric Opera provided us with this balm on a dreary, frosty day. 

Catherine Hellmann has great stories from a year doing singing telegrams, which was not as artistic as the Lyric, but pretty darn enteratining. 

Lyric Opera's “Rising Stars in Concert” is a showcase performance starring Ensemble members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center with members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Ari Pelto Sunday, January 19, 2020.

Lyric Opera of Chicago
20 N. Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
United States

Lead Sponsor: Donna Van Eekeren Foundation

Sponsors: Ann M. Drake, Sue and Melvin Gray, Patricia A. Kenney and Gregory J. O’Leary, Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation, Lauter McDougal Charitable Fund, Frank  B. Modruson and Lynne C. Shigley, and Dr. Scholl Foundation, with additional support from Dentons LLP and Allan Drebin

Rising Stars in Concert was also broadcast on 98.7WFMT and on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

The radio broadcast of Rising Stars in Concert is generously sponsored by the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation.

Monday, February 25, 2019

REVIEW: LA TRAVIATA Now Playing at Lyric Opera Chicago Through March 22, 2019

by Giuseppe Verdi
Sung in Italian with projected English translations

Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes with 2 intermissions

Review of Opera “La Traviata” at Lyric
By Catherine Hellmann, guest critic

Even though it was her first opera, my daughter Emily’s head was happily bobbing along with the music in Act I, recognizing the famous aria “Sempre Libera” by the lovely courtesan, Violetta Valery. (New Zealand folk band Flight of the Conchords would refer to her in their song,”The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room,” as a “High-Class Prostitute.” “Courtesan” sounds almost respectable.) I reassured Skeptical Em that she would love the opera, find the music familiar, and be impressed with the costumes especially. Yes, on all counts!

Except My Big Girl also had her own take on some plot points: “Honey, your dress costs more than a peasant’s salary for a year. Didn’t they realize this would spell trouble?” “Oh, yeah, they’re having fun now...wait a few years until the Revolution…”

As the show opens in 1860 Paris, Violetta is hosting a soiree after recovering from a serious illness (can you say “foreshadowing”?). Violetta, feeling faint, is  the Hostest with the Mostest, and encourages her friends to go ahead and celebrate without her in the next room. (And none of her guests/moochers inquire how she is feeling? Girlfriend needs new friends.)

Her pal, Gastone de Letorieres, (not to be confused with the sexist hunter from “Beauty and the Beast,” one of Em’s favorites) introduces Belle (I mean Violetta) to his friend and her admirer, Alfredo Germont. Alfredo has been vigilant about visiting Violetta every day throughout her illness. They fall in love through song; by Act II, they are living together in the country! But they are broke...Violetta is slyly selling her possessions for their expenses. (“They say our love won’t pay the rent…” Couldn’t resist...It’s not often one can get a Sonny and Cher reference in when describing Verdi!)    

Alfredo’s father arrives and wants to break up the relationship, fearing that Violetta’s past life as a ‘ho (he sings it much better in Italian!) will threaten his daughter’s marriage prospects. He is pleasantly surprised to discover Violetta’s true love for his son. But Violetta selflessly breaks things off with the love of her life by leaving him a farewell note. Alfredo misunderstands and humiliates Violetta at a party. Sigh…at least the elder Germont sees the truth and calls his son out for insulting Violetta and being a dick.

By Act III, a month later, Violetta is dying of that romantic heroine disease, Tuberculosis, also called Consumption. Alfredo learns of her sacrifice, and he arrives in time for his beloved to die in his arms. Of course. Curtain.

The music for “La Traviata” is gorgeous. The singers were marvelous, especially Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova as our doomed goddess/hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, and Italian tenor Giorgio Berrugi as Alfredo. Zeljko Lucic was also impressive as the father whose opinion of Violetta changes dramatically.

Whether you have seen this standard repertoire piece numerous times, like myself, or are a first-timer like Emily, you will love this gorgeous classic playing at our marvelous Lyric Opera House!

Catherine Hellmann inspires middle schoolers by day and attends as much theater as possible by night. If she could have a Super Power, it would be to never need sleep...she is getting close to this goal. 

VERDI’S MUSIC IS INCOMPARABLE, WITH ONE HEARTSTOPPINGLY BEAUTIFUL MELODY AFTER ANOTHER, in this exquisitely romantic story. Within the social whirl of sophisticated Paris, the courtesan Violetta lives purely for pleasure but longs for true love. She finds the right man in Alfredo, but their happiness is cut short: at his father’s insistence, Violetta leaves Alfredo for the sake of his family. Her spirit broken, her health shattered, Violetta now lives only with the hope that Alfredo will return to her. La traviata gives us one of opera’s most glorious heroines, a woman of boundless humanity and emotional depth.



Coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Canadian Opera Company.

Follow along on social media #LyricTraviata


Violetta is the ultimate party girl, and her risqué lifestyle might cost her the love of her life. Only 7 performances remain of the critically acclaimed La traviata; here are 7 reasons La traviata is a can't-miss live theater experience:  

1. The costumes are stunning. From elaborate parties to country estates, Violetta and the rest of the cast are dressed to impress by costume designer Cait O’Connor.

2. Albina Shagimuratova shines as Violetta. The Chicago Tribune is calling her "a superb singing thrilling to hear as her acting was compelling to behold." 

3. Verdi's music is unforgettable. Opera experts and newcomers alike will recognize songs like "Sempre libera." Listen to some of our favorites!

4. Calling all culture vultures. A story as timeless as this never gets old; La traviata has inspired pop culture favorites like Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge. 

5. Paris is beautiful this time of year. Get swept up in the social whirl of sophisticated Paris with Violetta as she discovers love, loss, and redemption.

6. Prices to fit every budget. Tickets start at just $49 you don't have to break the bank to have a special night out!

7. Critics love it. Find out for yourself why Broadway World is calling it "the best of all things opera."

La traviata must close March 22 — don't miss your chance to experience this  breathtaking production. Save your seats today online or over the phone at 312.827.5600.

Monday, January 28, 2019

REVIEW: La Boheme at Lyric Opera Now Playing Through January 31st, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Through January 31st, 2019

Guest Review
by catherine hellmann

“It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”-- Rodolfo in “La Boheme.” Actually, those words were written by Alfred Lord Tennyson. But our hero, Rodolfo could have easily stated them as well.  

You know how when you read a particular novel and it speaks to you in the manner of your current frame of mind? If you need hope, perhaps the book provides inspiration; if you are feeling nostalgic from a setback, the same book at a different time can seem poignant. I love how opera can stir up similar reactions in life’s journey. So is my attachment to the beautiful “La Boheme” by Puccini.

The last time I saw a production of Lyric’s “La Boheme,” I was struck by the overall sadness of the piece, the poverty, the struggles of the artists, Mimi’s chronic cough and eventual death. Downer, dude. Gorgeous music, of course, but oh so melancholy. (Did I mention I just had a miscarriage? Yeah, I was in a tough place…) Fast forward twenty years, and the healthy baby boy I eventually went on to have is now a Sophomore in college, and life is good. Hmmm...I did not realize how utterly charming and humorous  Act I of “La Boheme” could be! Opera as litmus test! No wonder this is the opera that Nicholas Cage takes Cher to in Moonstruck. The story and score are swoon-worthy.

Lyric Opera has assembled a marvelous international cast for its current “La Boheme.” Italian Maria Agresta as Mimi and American Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo are adorable flirting together and wowed us with their vocal theatrics this past fall at Millennium Park. Musetta is performed with relish for the role by Australian soprano Danielle De Niese; her Musetta is feisty, sexy, funny, and ultimately very empathetic with a compassionate heart. Her seduction aria to make Marcello jealous places her on a table in a restaurant while she removes her panties to place on his head, something we don’t see often in opera! Zachary Nelson as her on-and-off-again lover Marcello is her match.    


The sets and costumes are wonderful, especially the market scene with the crowds, including the Chicago Children’s Choir, out bustling, shopping for toys, perfumes, and corsets. I love the snow constantly falling as a reminder of how pretty snow can be when it is not dirty slush on the streets of Chicago!

And oh, that lovely music! Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan states that the first time he heard the entire score, “I was in love with every bar.” It is easy to see why. As my guy, who was seeing his first opera, observed,”It is a beautiful tragedy. Rodolfo’s heart is broken, but he has peace.” Rather than running away by breaking up with an obviously ailing Mimi, Rodolfo confesses his deep love for her and is with her to her last breath.

My favorite line in the libretto sums it all up: “You are the dream I’d like to last a lifetime.”

Catherine Hellmann is a teacher, writer, and theater junkie. She has tried to inspire urban and rural middle schoolers for over twenty years. A mother of three, she is thrilled to once again claim Chicago as home.  

Puccini's story of love, loss and the artistic world of 19th-century Paris comes to vibrant life in this stunning production at Lyric Opera of Chicago. A huge hit when it premiered it in 1896, the opera's popularity and power hasn't dimmed since. Featuring strikingly designed sets and costumes, not to mention an exciting cast of singers, including Maria Agresta, Michael Fabiano, Danielle de Niese, Zachary Nelson and more, La bohème finds the poor poet Rodolfo and the painter Marcello drawn into a tangle of love and jealousy after the frail Mimi knocks on their door. These youthful dreamers navigate the complicated maze of romance amid the colorful Bohemian enclaves of the city and its snowy streets, until they realize they can no longer hide from the world's harsh realities.

Click here for Lyric Opera's site, for more information and ticket sales

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

REVIEW: “Il Trovatore” at Lyric Opera Through December 9, 2018

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

by Giuseppe Verdi
Sung in Italian with projected English translations

Approximate Running Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one 25-minute intermission.

Verdi’s IL TROVATORE Now Playing at Lyric Opera of Chicago November 17-30 & December 3-9

Review of Opera “Il Trovatore” at Lyric
By Catherine Hellmann, guest critic

Everyone remembers their first, not the opera. The adorable father-daughter duo seated next to us said her first opera was in Detroit. Her dad deliberately took her to see Puccini’s “La Boheme” in the Lincoln seats since it is such a classic and so lovely. Dad saw his first opera at the Lyric, being a Chicago native. His was “Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte.” Mine was at Cincinnati’s gorgeous Music Hall, courtesy of my father, a classical music fan. “The Student Prince” by Sigmund Romberg.

And so I was honored to bring my daughter to her first opera at the stunning Art Deco Lyric Opera House on Saturday night for Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.” I assured her that she could read the English subtitles above the stage since the opera would be sung in its native Italian.

“What’s it about?” she asked me on our way to Wacker Drive. “Not sure exactly,” I answered, “but someone will die in song.”  

Getting interested in an opera is kind of like what a professor told me about reading Grimm’s fairy tales: you have to suspend belief and just go with it. If a character has a magic mirror in a fairy tale, it makes no sense logically; just don’t question it, and enjoy the ridiculous premise. So if a mother in “Il Trovatore” gets confused at a bonfire and accidentally throws her own baby into the flames instead of the boy she is supposed to be avenging, oy, just accept this plot development.

As a former Lyric subscriber and opera major in college, I just expect this lack of logic. But to teen-ager Camelia, the plot was insanity.

“Okay, so the first half was great like, wow, but the second half, what even was that. You’ve got this woman for 30 minutes talking about how much she loves this guy, like okay, we get it, you miss him, and then she gives herself up for him, which is so sweet. AND THEN FOR 30 MORE MINUTES THIS DUDE IS SO UNGRATEFUL! Like, ‘I hate you! You’re giving your love to someone else!’ Dude. She’s giving up her virtue and her life for you and all you can do is complain. You literally throw away the key, why didn’t you release your mom. AND THEN IN THE LAST TWO SECONDS, she dies, he dies, and ‘Hey, surprise! You just killed your brother.’ ‘What? NOOOOOOOOOOO!’ And scene. Like, um okay, bitch.” - ------Camelia         

The Anvil Chorus from IL TROVATORE at Lyric Opera of Chicago. 
Photo by Michael Brosilow

While the plot is typical opera-crazy fare, the singing and performances are top-notch in this hot mess of a story. Tamara Wilson in the lead role of Leonora was divine. What a voice! Simply mesmerizing. Obviously, her acting was also effective, as Camelia was so upset by her generosity to the ungrateful Manrico, her lover.

Jamie Barton amazed us with her incredible range as Azucena, the daughter of the accused witch and adoptive mother of Manrico. Artur Rucinski was also noteworthy as the calculating, but sexy, Count di Luna with his marvelous voice and acting.

The Chicago Lyric Opera Chorus was fantastic, especially in the very-recognizable “anvil song” set in the Gypsy camp. (As an added bonus, some of the workers were swinging their anvils without any shirts on. Oh, I long for those days of Samuel Ramey playing a half-naked devil…)

The set design was cool, but at one point, the turntable spun slowly to switch scenes in a drawn-out silence. It seemed weird to not have any music or singing at that part. It is a credit to opera audiences that there was complete silence during this awkward scene change.

But that is a quibble. It is always a treat to see the Lyric in its fabulous home. The downstairs area has great framed photographs of past productions lining its walls as well as costume ball gowns. Coffee is available for sale throughout the lobby areas, if a three-hour opera tests your attention span.               

Catherine Hellmann is a teacher, writer, and theater junkie. She has tried to inspire urban and rural middle schoolers for over twenty years. A mother of three, she is thrilled to once again claim Chicago as home.  

by Giuseppe Verdi
Sung in Italian with projected English translations


And what wonderful characters—bold and courageous Manrico, his beloved Leonora, the vengeful Count di Luna, and the wild, obsessed gypsy Azucena. Each has thrilling music to sing as the drama unfolds in the smoldering atmosphere of darkly mysterious 15th-century Spain. The “Anvil Chorus,” Leonora’s “Miserere,” Manrico’s stirring call to arms—these are just a few of the fabulous highlights that make Il trovatore a feast of sumptuous singing.


A coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Metropolitan Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Association.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Verdi’s Il trovatore opens Saturday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m. There are seven performances November 17 - December 9 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago. Tickets start at $39 and are available now at or at 312-827-5600.

Lyric’s Il trovatore boasts a terrific international cast of new and returning artists to play the vividly drawn characters in this hot-blooded tale of love, jealousy, and mistaken identity, and terrible retribution.

American tenor Russell Thomas is Manrico, the titular troubadour, while American soprano Tamara Wilson (Lyric debut) plays his love, Leonora. American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton portrays the tortured gypsy Azucena, and Polish baritone Artur Ruciński (Lyric debut) sings the dastardly Count di Luna, who covets Leonora’s affections. Serving as narrator for this twisted tale is Ferrando, sung by Italian bass Roberto Tagliavini (Lyric debut). 

Conductor Marco Armiliato and the Lyric Opera Orchestra bring terrific collective experience to the thrilling blood-and-thunder score. The original director of this production, Sir David McVicar, has created a visually powerful production set in tumultuous early 19th-century Spain. Roy Rallo (Lyric debut) directs the revival, with set designs by Charles Edwards, costume designs by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, original lighting design by Jennifer Tipton, and revival lighting design by Chris Maravich.

The Lyric Opera Chorus, prepared by Lyric’s chorus master Michael Black, sings one of the most famous pieces of music, the stirring and hearty “Anvil Chorus.”

Performance dates for Il trovatore are Nov. 17, 21, 25, 30 and Dec. 3, 6, and 9. Performance times vary. For tickets and information call (312) 827-5600 or go to

Sunday, October 29, 2017

OPENING: DIE WALKÜRE at Lyric Opera of Chicago November 1 - 30

What You Need to Know About
at Lyric Opera of Chicago
November 1 - 30

Die Walküre during technical rehearsals. PHOTO: Michael Brosilow

The opening-night performance of Die Walküre on Wednesday, November 1, can be heard live locally on 98.7WFMT and globally on, beginning at 5:15pm.

New production dedicated to Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director and principal conductor, to mark the 30th anniversary of his Lyric debut

Running time 4 hours 45 minutes, including two intermissions.
Sung in German with projected English translations.

Die Walküre focuses on the conflict between Wotan, king of the gods, and his mortal son, Siegmund, who has unwittingly fallen in love with his own twin, Sieglinde, the wife of the brutish Hunding. This arouses the wrath of Wotan’s wife, Fricka (goddess of marriage), and the compassion of Wotan’s daughter, the warrior-maiden Brünnhilde. The turning point of the opera arrives when Brünnhilde disobeys her father by siding with Siegmund in the latter’s fight against Hunding. Both Siegmund and Hunding are killed, and Wotan punishes Brünnhilde.

Music Director Sir Andrew Davis celebrates his 30th anniversary at Lyric by conducting all performances of Die Walküre -- including one on November 14, the actual anniversary date. Lyric is dedicating the new production to Sir Andrew to celebrate this milestone.
Taboo-breaking love, violated vows, deadly disobedience, fierce retribution. Family dysfunction taken to the limits.

Provocative, shocking, deeply moving story inspired by Norse mythology.
Ravishing, dramatic, powerful, tender, sublime music that really tells the story. Every character has a distinctive musical theme. If you love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones…come see what inspired those sagas.

Before there was Wonder Woman...there was Die Walküre.
You’ll recognize the exhilarating “Ride of the Valkyries” music from Apocalypse Now, What's Opera, Doc? and countless commercials. Now hear that glorious music in context, live and brilliantly played by Lyric’s expanded 93-piece orchestra (including Wagner tuba, bass trumpet, and contrabass trombone!) conducted by Ring leader Sir Andrew Davis.

“Sheer beauty,” “sheer humanity,” “glorious music” are among the phrases Lyric’s general director Anthony Freud uses to describe this monumental yet intimate work.

Directed by David Pountney, one of the great stage directors in the world.
Outstanding international creative team: original scenic design by the late Johan Engels; set designer Robert Innes Hopkins, costumes designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca, lighting designer Fabrice Kebour, choreographer Denni Sayers.
German composer Richard Wagner wrote the entire libretto and music.
Die Walküre is through-composed -- the music flows from one scene to the next.

It’s a dramatic and musical thrill ride that you’ll never forget, with A-list Wagnerian singers who will blow you away. Soprano Elisabet Strid and tenor Brandon Jovanovich as twins Sieglinde and Siegmund will thrill with their rapturous duet before the deadly duel with Hunding, portrayed by bass Ain Anger. (Strid and Anger will both make Lyric debuts in these performances.)
As Fricka, preserver of sacred marriage vows, mezzo-soprano Tanja Ariane Baumgartner will overpower her willful husband Wotan with her righteous indignation.

As Wotan, bass-baritone Eric Owens gave the Millennium Park concert audience a taste of what’s to come. 9,000 attendees listened raptly to his heartrending farewell to favorite daughter Brunnhilde as he put her into a trancelike sleep and encircled her with magic fire, to be penetrated only by the bravest of heroes (in Part 3, Siegfried). Before the Big Sleep, soprano Christine Goerke will astonish audiences with her powerfully emotional performance as Brünnhilde, capturing perfectly the passionate spirit of a headstrong young woman fighting for what she believes is right.

These world-class singers will triumph in their demanding marathon roles. All are internationally acclaimed Wagnerians in the absolute prime of their careers.
The Valkyries sing gloriously -- and they ride flying horses. Die Walküre stands alone as a brilliant opera -- and it’s also part of the mighty Ring cycle. Lyric is presenting one Ring opera per season through 2020, then will perform the full cycle three times over the course of three weeks following the regular 2019/2020 season.

7 Performances November 1 - 30 
at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago

Evening performances start 5:30pm, matinees start 1pm. 
Doors open an hour before curtain.

Box suppers available for purchase before performances, 
for pickup at first intermission.

More opera for your money! 

For more information and to order tickets, visitüre or call 312-827-5600.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

1 Night Only Withnail & I With Post-Show Q&A With Star Richard E. Grant at Music Box Theatre This Monday 4/24

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Film star Richard E. Grant appears at Music Box Theatre
one night only for 30th anniversary screening of cult film
Withnail & I and 
post-show Q&A with audience

Monday, April 24 at 7 p.m.

Grant currently in Chicago for Lyric Opera’s My Fair Lady

l-r: Richard E. Grant; Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant in Withnail & I.

TV and film star Richard E. Grant (Logan, Jackie, Girls, Game of Thrones) appears at the Music Box Theatre on Monday, April 24 for a special one-night-only 30th anniversary screening of the cult classic film Withnail & I, which launched Grant’s career in 1987. The British black comedy follows two unemployed young actors during what is supposed to be a relaxing getaway weekend to a country cottage. The film will be screened on 35mm, and immediately following Grant will participate in a Q&A with the audience about the film, his career, and first time performing in Chicago for Lyric Opera’s My Fair Lady.

The one-night-only 30th anniversary screening of Withnail and I at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Avenue) is Monday, April 24 at 7 p.m. with a Q&A with Richard E. Grant immediately following. Tickets are $12 and available now at

Withnail & I is a British black comedy about two “resting” actors – living off a diet of booze and pills in a squalid Camden Flat – who decide to take a trip to a country house (belonging to Withnail’s uncle) to “rejuvenate.” Faced with bad weather, altercations with the locals, and the unexpected arrival (and advances) of Uncle Monty, the pair’s wits and friendship are tested.

Richard E. Grant is currently in Chicago for Lyric Opera’s grand-scale company premiere of My Fair Lady, starring as Henry Higgins alongside Lisa O’Hare as Eliza Doolittle. The cast also includes Bryce Pinkham (Freddy Eynsford-Hill), Nicholas Le Prevost (Colonel Pickering) and Donald Maxwell (Alfred Doolittle). My Fair Lady plays April 28-May 21, 2017, at Lyric’s Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive. Tickets start at $22 and are available now at or at 312-827-5600.

Richard E. Grant has proven to be one of the great character actors of his generation since appearing in his first film as the perpetually inebriated title character in Withnail and I. Some of his most memorable credits include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Henry & June, L.A. Story, The Player, The Age of Innocence, The Portrait of a Lady, Spice World, Gosford Park, and The Iron Lady. He has countless television credits, including featured roles on Girls, Downton Abbey, and Game of Thrones. In 2008, Grant performed the role of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady with Opera Australia. Following the recent releases of the acclaimed films Jackie and Logan, he has several other films scheduled for release, including the romantic comedy Their Finest and the dark comedy Can You Ever Forgive Me? with Melissa McCarthy.

Music Box Theatre
For the last two decades, the Music Box Theatre has been the premiere venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films. It currently has the largest theater space operated full time in the city. The Music Box Theatre is independently owned and operated by the Southport Music Box Corporation. SMBC, through its Music Box Films division, also distributes foreign and independent films in the theatrical, DVD and television markets throughout the United States.

Follow The Music Box Theatre on Instagram @musicboxchicago and Twitter @musicboxtheatre

Lyric Opera of Chicago
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of General Director, President & CEO Anthony Freud, Music Director Sir Andrew Davis, and Creative Consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.

To learn more about Lyric, go to You can also join the conversation with @LyricOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #Lyric1617 #LongLivePassion

Thursday, May 5, 2016

REVIEW: Lyric Opera's The King and I Review and 50% Off Select Tickets

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Disclosure: We're elated to partner up with Lyric Opera and share this stellar 50% off discount with our readers. We have been compensated with tickets in exchange for promoting this offer. As always, all opinions are our own.

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows, we adore the Lyric Opera's The King and I. This production is truly a treat for the eyes and ears. We're thrilled that the children in the cast are all from Chicago. And Kate Baldwin and Paolo Montalban's star power is well deserved. 

It's a tough task to take on an iconic classic that's a revered movie as well as a long time stage favorite. People get attached to particular casting choices and wardrobe pieces and have a tough time envisioning something fresh and new. Lyric Opera does a fantastic job reinventing rather than reproducing this favorite. The vocals, acting, sets, and costumes combine to create an opulently original production. This is an excellent choice for families with multigenerational appeal. Even my 15 year old son, a notoriously tough demographic for operas and musicals, enjoyed it! Do note, the run time is a bit over 3 hours, so keep that in mind if you're thinking of bringing elementary age children. Highly recommended. 

It was our great pleasure to catch opening night and to also partner up with Lyric Opera and give away a pair of tickets to one of our lucky readers. Out of 620 entries, congratulations again to Yael Hoffman, our big ticket pair winner. Still, all our readers are winners, so we're happy to offer you an incredible deal on weekday seats. 

ChiIL Live Shows Readers Save 50% Off Select Shows:

“Whistle a Happy Tune” with HALF OFF tickets to Lyric Opera’s critically acclaimed production of The King and I! Use code “SIAMBLOG” for 50% off Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances. Offer is subject to availability and not valid on previously purchased tickets or in combination with any other offer. Please see for full offer details. Code expires 5/19/2016. Click HERE for more information on The King and I.

Disclosure: Once again, we're elated to partner up with Lyric Opera and share this stellar discount with our readers. We have been compensated with tickets in exchange for promoting this offer. As always, all opinions are our own.

Friday, April 29, 2016

GIVEAWAY: WIN 2 Tickets To The King and I at Lyric Opera

Lyric Opera’s grand-scale production of
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 
opens tonight, April 29
Performances through May 22
at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr.

 All Production Photos by Todd Rosenberg

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows we're elated to offer our readers a fabulous Mothers' Day giveaway. We are partnering up with The Lyric Opera to offer a FREE pair of tickets to The King and I for one of our lucky readers. Our winner may select one of the following performances: May 7 at 1:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.; May 8 at 6:30 p.m.; or Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. Enter early and often through midnight May 2nd. 

We'll be there for the press opening this Saturday, so check back soon for our full review. The Lyric Opera has long been a favorite of ours for world class productions and incomparable talent, costumes and sets. We can't wait to see the beloved classic, The King and I!

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents a stunning production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, featuring Broadway stars Kate Baldwin and Paolo Montalban as Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam. Lyric Opera’s The King and I runs April 29 through May 22 (press opening April 30), with 25 performances at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. Tickets start at $29 and are available at or at 312-827-5600. 

The King and I is the fourth Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to be presented as part of Lyric’s American Musical Initiative. Lee Blakeley, who staged the production’s 2014 premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, makes his Lyric directorial debut teaming up with distinguished Broadway conductor David Chase, who conducted Lyric’s acclaimed Carousel last season, and choreographer Peggy Hickey. The creative team also includes costume designer Sue Blane (debut), scenic designer Jean-Marc Puissant (debut), lighting designer Rick Fisher (debut), sound designer Mark Grey, and chorus master Michael Black.

The King and I  features Broadway artists Ali Ewoldt (Tuptim), Alan Ariano (The Kralahome), and Rona Figueroa (Lady Thiang), along with Sam Simahk (Lun Tha) and Chicagoland artists Charlie Babbo (Louis Leonowens), Jomar Ferreras (Interpreter), John Lister (Captain Orton), David Parkes (Sir Edward Ramsay), Peter Sipla (Phra Alack) and Matthew Uzarraga (Prince Chulalongkorn). All but Lister make their Lyric debuts with The King and I.

The all-Chicagoland children’s ensemble for the production includes Sophie Mieko Ackerman, Alexis Aponte, Lilly Fujioka, Avonlea Hong, Leila Koss, Evangelyn Lee, Liliana Martens, Lucy Martens, Rika Nishikawa, Ana Joy Rowley-Mathews, Benedict Santos Schwegel, A’naam Singh, Zachary Uzarraga and Sophia Woo. These young performers range in age from 5 through 14.

Click here to learn more about this production. Follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram: #LyricKing.

The Lyric premiere of The King and I is generously made possible by The Negaunee Foundation, two Anonymous Donors, Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison, and Northern Trust.

The April 30 performance of The King and I will be broadcast on 98.7WFMT and streamed on on Sunday, May 1, at 7:00pm.

About Lyric
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility. Visit for more information.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chicago is Bitten by the Bard Bug With Shakespeare 400 All Year

Last night we were thrilled to cover opening night of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's compelling modern adaptation of Othello. Earlier this week we were enamored with opening night of Gounod's opulent Romeo and Juliet at Lyric Opera. Check back with ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows for Shakespeare 400 news, reviews, and photo filled features all year long. 

From concerts to ballet, opera and theater, Chicago is bitten by the bard bug! Shows we are reviewing are in bold. This week, Harris Theater for Music and Dance presents the first dance performances of the festival: Hamburg Ballet’s Othello , while the Moor’s story also unfolds as a gripping psychological thriller at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The world's most celebrated love story finds new dimension in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet at Lyric Opera, just as two concerts at Rockefeller Chapel explore popular styles of music from Shakespeare’s time. Looking to shake things up? A handful of tickets remain to catch (In) Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare at the Museum of Contemporary Art this week.

And there’s much more to come! In March, the UK’s Filter Theatre brings its rock-and-roll Twelfth Night to Chicago Shakespeare; Harvard Professor Michael Sandel hosts a lively town hall-style conversation; Gift Theatre performs its Richard III at Steppenwolf's Garage; and Logan Center for the Arts screens two masterful films of King Lear.

Across our great city, with Shakespeare as their guide, the best international and Chicago talents remind us of life’s endless possibilities and the universality of the human condition. There’s so much to enjoy—come play your part! Follow the hashtag #ChiShakes400.

More ChiIL Shots From ChiIL Mama's Adventures at Othello, Opening Night. Chicago Shakespeare Theater:

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