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Showing posts with label Lyric Opera of Chicago. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lyric Opera of Chicago. 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 lyricopera.org/42ndstreet, 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.

ARTIST BIOS

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 wfmt.com 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.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Verdi's LUISA MILLER at Lyric Opera of Chicago October 12 - 31, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Verdi's tragic romance 
LUISA MILLER 
opens Saturday, October 12 at 
Lyric Opera of Chicago
conducted by Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola
October 12 - 31


Verdi’s heart-wrenching romantic drama Luisa Miller returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago for the first time in more than three decades on Saturday, October 12 at 7:30 p.m. Enrique Mazzola, Lyric’s music director designate, will be on the podium.

There will be six performances through October 31 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago. Tickets start at $39 for adults and $20 for children, and are available now at lyricopera.org/Luisa or by calling 312-827-5600.

Luisa Miller features an outstanding international cast of acclaimed Verdian artists. Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova is sweet, vulnerable Luisa, who loves and is loved by Rodolfo (Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja), the son of ruthless, unethical nobleman Count Walter (American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn/Ryan Opera Center alumnus) whom Luisa’s own father Miller (American baritone Quinn Kelsey/Ryan Opera Center alumnus) loathes. To keep the lovers apart, Walter employs the help of his retainer Wurm (American bass Soloman Howard/Lyric debut), who wants to marry Luisa himself. An arranged marriage between Rodolfo and Duchess Federica (Russian mezzo-soprano Alisa Kolosova) further complicates Luisa and Rodolfo’s desperate situation.

The revelatory arias, breathtaking duets, thrilling ensembles, and electrifying orchestration of Luisa Miller foreshadow Verdi’s famous mid-career operas, marking his transition from bel canto to his own compositional style. These performances mark an exciting opportunity to experience a largely unfamiliar work by a well-known and beloved composer. The opera’s libretto by Salvadore Cammarano is based on the play Kabale und Liebe by the German dramatist Friedrich von Schiller. Luisa Miller has been presented only once previously in Lyric’s 65-year history, during the 1982 season. You can hear musical excerpts here (scroll down to "Learn More").

Lyric’s music director designate, Enrique Mazzola, is a lauded expert in conducting early Verdi, as well as bel canto and French opera. (Previously at Lyric he led acclaimed performances of two bel canto masterpieces, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Bellini’s I puritani). Luisa Miller marks the first installment of Lyric’s Early Verdi Series, to be presented over the coming years and which will be conducted by Mazzola.

The production of Luisa Miller is directed by Francesca Zambello, with open, evocative set designs by Michael Yeargan, traditional-period costume designs by Dunya Ramicova, and dramatic lighting design by Mark McCullough. Lyric’s chorus master is Michael Black, and August Tye is the choreographer for this presentation.

Performance dates for Luisa Miller are October 12, 16, 20, 25, 28, and 31. Performance times vary.

For tickets and information call (312) 827-5600 or go to lyricopera.org/Luisa Tickets start at $39.

Luisa Miller is performed in Italian with projected English translations.

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.

Production sponsors: NIB Foundation, Julie and Roger Baskes, the Henry and Gilda Buchbinder Family Foundation, Liz Stiffel, and The Nelson Cornelius Production Endowment Fund.

Luisa Miller is a San Francisco Opera production.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

TICKETS ON SALE: World-renowned soprano Renée Fleming To Star In THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA December 14-29, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
World-renowned soprano Renée Fleming stars in
new production of the multi Tony Award-winning musical
THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA
presented by John Berry and Anthony Lilley for Scenario Two


Limited Chicago engagement at Lyric Opera House for
ten performances only: December 14-29, 2019

“the most intensely romantic score of any musical since 
West Side Story” - New York Times

PUBLIC TICKETS ON SALE STARTING MARCH 28

John Berry CBE and Anthony Lilley OBE for Scenario Two are delighted to announce a new production of the acclaimed Broadway musical The Light in the Piazza starring four-time Grammy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Renée Fleming as Margaret Johnson, who embarks on a fateful trip to Florence with her daughter in the summer of 1953. Additional casting including Broadway and West End stars to be announced soon.

After premiering in London at the Royal Festival Hall this summer, the new production will be presented in Chicago for ten performances only at Lyric Opera House from December 14-29, 2019 (press opening Saturday, Dec. 14). Tickets start at $49 and go on sale for Lyric Opera subscribers on Monday, March 25 at 10 a.m. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, March 28 at 10 a.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.lightinthepiazzathemusical.com

The new production of The Light in the Piazza is directed by Olivier Award winner and critically acclaimed musicals expert Daniel Evans and designed by Robert Jones, with costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Mick Potter. The ravishing score will be played by the Lyric Opera Orchestra under the baton of Kimberly Grigsby, conductor of the original Lincoln Center production.

Upon its Broadway debut, The Light in the Piazza was described by the New York Times as having “the most intensely romantic score of any musical since West Side Story.” Based on the novel by Elizabeth Spencer, The Light in the Piazza book is by Craig Lucas, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel. Set in Florence during the summer of 1953, it’s a touching and unforgettable love story. A fateful gust of wind whisks Clara’s hat into the hands of local dreamer Fabrizio Naccarelli and it’s love at first sight. However, Clara isn’t quite what she appears.  Soon her mother is faced with a heart-wrenching decision, and they must all confront a secret that’s been kept in the shadows for far too long. 

The Light in the Piazza’s rich, emotional score is unique amongst 21st-century Broadway musicals. Unapologetically lyrical and romantic, it transports audiences to 1950s Florence for a romantic evening of love and light.

Scenario Two presents
The Light in the Piazza
Book by Craig Lucas
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
December 14-29, 2019 
At Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago
Tickets $49-$219
www.lightinthepiazzathemusical.com

About Scenario Two
Scenario Two is a new UK company founded by John Berry CBE and Anthony Lilley OBE, which specializes in commercial theatrical production in London and Internationally. It brings together the very best talent from the world of opera and musical theatre with top performers and creatives from other industries such as film, television and theatre. The company is creating exciting new productions of classic musicals and developing new commissions and thereby aims to attract both existing theatre-goers and new audiences in the West End and major theatres around the world. For more information visit www.scenario-two.com.


Monday, March 11, 2019

REVIEW: Lyric Opera’s Ariodante by Handel Now Playing at Lyric Opera of Chicago Through March 17, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

ARIODANTE 
Now Playing at Lyric Opera of Chicago
Through March 17
by George Frideric Handel

Sung in Italian with projected English translations



Guest Review
By Catherine Hellmann

At first, I thought there was a mistake in the program, or my eyes are bad (which they are, but I doubted the Lyric had a misprint…). George Frideric Handel’s Ariodante was first performed at Covent Garden in London on January 8, 1735 and “First performed by Lyric Opera of Chicago on March 2, 2019.” 1735? 2019? Huh?? How did it take 284 years (I had to do the subtracting on a calculator...I teach English, not math…) for the Lyric to present this glorious music? What a treasure has been neglected! Well, at last it is here in our beloved city, so “treat yo’self” (thanks, Tom Haverford and Donna on Parks and Rec!) by going to see it while it lasts. (and we hope it won’t be another nearly three centuries to return.)

The plot is a little kooky and quite like Shakespeare. I am going to save myself the mental gymnastics by quoting the Lyric press release which summarizes the storyline beautifully:

“The original plot of Ariodante is full of Shakespearean twists, disguises, mistaken identities, wrenching misunderstandings, and eventual reconciliation (not unlike Much Ado About Nothing). Ginevra and Ariodante love each other and are about to be wed with the blessing of her father, the King of Scotland. Polinesso covets Ginevra and uses her lady-in-waiting, Dalinda (who loves Polinesso), to trick Ariodante into believing Ginevra is unfaithful and provoke his apparent suicide. Ariodante’s brother Lurcanio, meanwhile, loves and is shunned by Dalinda, and blames Ginevra for his sibling’s seeming demise. Eventually Ariodante turns up alive, Polinesso is vanquished, and the “right” couples are united.”

My first reaction was, ”So they both love each other, and her father APPROVES? What is the problem here?” Ha ha ha. Oh, silly me. Enter the super-creepy Polinesso, played by astounding British countertenor Iestyn Davies, to stir up trouble. (In a previous review for ChiIL Live Shows on The Scarlet Ibis for Chicago Opera Theater, I referred to countertenors as “unicorns.” You swear you are hearing a woman singing a “trouser role” dressed as a man...which in this opera is the case with the equally amazing Alice Coote, as future-husband-to-Ginerva, Ariodante. But it is a guy with a super-high voice. It’s a little freaky.) Polinesso is dressed in a priest’s black cassock with a biker look of jeans, a denim jacket, and sporting tattoos underneath his “holiness.” It is an icky transition, especially when witnessing how he abuses Dalinda; I couldn’t help cringing thinking of the priest abuse scandals. Blek. (One really hilarious highlight of the evening is that Davies received “boos” and hisses from the audience at curtain call, not for his performance being poor, but quite the opposite, because he rocked playing a chilling villain. I loved the Lyric audience in that moment!)

My teenagers have to keep me educated of the latest terms on sexual identity (I swear this ties into my review…) like “cis-gender,”  “trans,” and foreign concepts like “preferred pronouns.” But think about the gender fluid-ness of Handel’s opera from 1735. The counter-tenor is a man who sings like a woman, and the title character is a woman dressed as a guy (who looks like a lesbian in this production). When the opera premiered, there were still castrati around, a horrifying procedure performed deliberately before puberty to keep the boys’ voices high. Talk about sacrifice for one’s art! Wow. Radical.

Part of Polinesso’s evil plan is to plant “evidence” of nude male drawings in Ginerva’s bedroom, like she was sketching her new paramour. I don’t know of any straight woman when confronted with that kind of virility who would waste her time drawing...and if he is hung like that, I mused, how does he sing so high??

The most “manly” character is the handsome Kyle Ketelsen as the King of Scotland who is Ginerva’s father. It takes great strength to look that good in a kilt while singing so sweetly mourning the supposed death of his future son-in-law.

Also deserving special recognition is American soprano Heidi Stober as the what-the-hell-is-she-thinking-liking-that-asshole-Polinesso? Dalinda. We have all known friends who like someone who is no good for them, and she is delusional about Polinesso’s sinister feelings for her. Girlfriend, run away from him while you still can! She looks devastated after he tricks her, but she still sings beautifully about how she likes him anyway. Wtf…

At nearly four hours long, this opera is not for the faint-hearted. However, the singing is so superb, and I love harpsichord with recitative; the opera does not feel as long as other operas that are shorter. Handel could have easily cut the singing down by an hour if he left out the impressive vocal theatrics. Eric Ferring as Ariodante’s brother Lurcanio has a musical passage where one word lasts about ten bars of music; I counted thirty-six quick notes for one syllable. But the singers are vocal athletes in fine form, and the arias are just a joy to hear. The virtuosity of the singers is half the fun.  

The modernized staging sets the opera in the 1970’s era of bad fashion. The chorus members wear ghastly sweaters and a mismash of clothing taken from my sister’s high school yearbook. It was ugly then and does not need a revival. Another overhaul was to drop the ballet dances as intended in the original production and substitute with puppets representing the lovebirds. The puppets are mesmerizing and predict the futures of the characters. When the marriage is anticipated, Ariodante and Ginerva are seen getting married and climbing into bed. (Puppet sex! Is this Avenue Q?) Four babies soon follow, which elicited chuckles from the audience. When Ginerva is believed to have been unfaithful, her puppet is portrayed as a common whore, stripped down, dressed in a plastic bag with high red heels, walking the strip and dancing on a pole. The effect is eerily powerful to show her fall from grace.

Brenda Rae, making her Lyric debut as Ginerva, gets to show off her acting and singing talents; she excels at both. Ginerva begins the opera by considering how she can make her “sparkling and seductive charm more appealing to her beloved.” Hmmm...feminist icon, she is not. But by the end, the wrongful accusations from her betrothed and her self-righteous father send her on a different path. Ginerva doesn’t need a man. She’s got a Handel on this. ;-)

Catherine Hellmann is a feminist who loves lipstick, likes gardening but lives in a condo, and hates the cold but adores Chicago. But there are no contradictions in her complete love for theater, books, and her children. 


**This production includes mature themes**



Provocative Baroque drama about abuse and complicity
in a bold, updated staging 

New coproduction and Lyric premiere of Handel’s masterpiece


The Lyric Opera of Chicago premiere of George Frideric Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Ariodante opens Saturday, March 2 at 7:30pm in a provocative new coproduction. There are six performances March 2 through March 17 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago. Tickets start at $39, and are available now at lyricopera.org/Ariodante or at 312-827-5600. 


VILLAINOUS POLINESSO LUSTS AFTER GINEVRA, BUT SHE LOVES NOBLE ARIODANTE, WHO LOVES HER IN RETURN.

Sometimes opera takes you to completely unexpected, dramatically powerful places.

That’s certainly the case with the Lyric premiere of Handel’s Ariodante, on multiple levels. Some of its thrilling arias might be familiar from concerts or recordings, but the full Baroque masterpiece is terra incognita for many (even though it was wildly popular when Handel, the German expat living in London, was composing multiple Italian operas). Still, there is inviting familiarity in the bouncing beat and virtuoso vocal writing in this new-to-Lyric opera.

The original plot of Ariodante is full of Shakespearean twists, disguises, mistaken identities, wrenching misunderstandings, and eventual reconciliation (not unlike Much Ado About Nothing). Ginevra and Ariodante love each other and are about to be wed with the blessing of her father, the King of Scotland. Polinesso covets Ginevra and uses her lady-in-waiting, Dalinda (who loves Polinesso), to trick Ariodante into believing Ginevra is unfaithful and provoke his apparent suicide. Ariodante’s brother Lurcanio, meanwhile, loves and is shunned by Dalinda, and blames Ginevra for his sibling’s seeming demise. Eventually Ariodante turns up alive, Polinesso is vanquished, and the “right” couples are united. 



Richard Jones’s production moves the story from medieval times to an isolated, religiously fundamentalist Scottish island in the 1970s. Polinesso is an outsider from the mainland who penetrates this closed community in preacher’s clothes, wreaking terrible havoc on several relationships and the fabric of the village itself through acts of abuse and manipulation. Rather than ending with the reconciliation and redemption traditional in 18th-century opera, this production of Ariodante takes an intriguing detour that will resonate with contemporary audiences.

Puppets representing Ginevra and Ariodante pantomime scenes that reflect the community’s expectations and misperceptions of the central couple in this production, replacing ballet sequences used to close each act in the original opera.

Baroque opera “is radical theater,” says Anthony Freud. “Ariodante deals with abuse and complicity.” Lyric’s general director calls this production of Ariodante “a clear, immediate, powerful telling of the story that will defy preconceptions about Handel’s Baroque formality. Our production reflects many contemporary issues. Handel’s masterpiece may be over 280 years old, but is startling in its topicality and intensity.”

The creative team drew inspiration for this production of Ariodante from the dark indie film Breaking the Waves, and also the plays of Strindberg and Ibsen. There are similarities to Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, in which an innocent young woman in Appalachia is seduced by an itinerant preacher. There are also traces of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes in the community turning against one of its own. 

Lyric’s splendid cast inhabits the complex characters while singing the daunting score to great effect. Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote takes on the title role, with soprano Brenda Rae (Lyric debut) as Ariodante’s betrothed, Ginevra. Soprano Heidi Stober portrays the vulnerable Dalinda, manipulated by the evil Polinesso, played by countertenor Iestyn Davies. Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the King of Scotland. Tenor Eric Ferring portrays Lurcanio.  and tenor Josh Lovell portrays Odoardo (the latter two are Ryan Opera Center artists). 






Acclaimed Baroque specialist Harry Bicket conducts, and Benjamin Davis (Lyric debut) is revival director. The production is designed by ULTZ (Lyric debut), with lighting by Mimi Jordan Sherin. Michael Black is chorus master, Lucy Burge is choreographer, Finn Caldwell is puppetry director and designer, and Nick Barnes is puppetry designer (the latter three are Lyric debuts).  




Don't miss your chance to experience this critically-acclaimed premiere — view the trailer here and find out for yourself why critics are praising its "tight, compelling story and rich, well-developed characters" (Chicago Sun-Times).


ARIODANTE IS "QUITE MOVING" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE)
In a small town rife with rumors, who can you trust? The highly anticipated U.S. premiere co-production of Handel's Ariodante opened Saturday night and critics are raving. With only five more performances, Ariodante must close March 17. See what people are saying about this Lyric premiere:

"Vocally, visually and dramatically arresting"
"Clarity and rhythmic verve from the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus"
"An opera penned nearly three centuries ago can resonate profoundly with modern times, when staged as tellingly as this"
"★ ★ ★ ★" (out of four) 
–Chicago Tribune

"Unexpected and intriguing"
"The casting for this production could hardly have been better"
"Many vocal high points"
"★ ★ ★ ½" (out of four)
–Chicago Sun-Times

"Dazzling vocal pyrotechnics"
"A daunting tour de force"
–Stage and Cinema


What happens when someone your town trusts is actually the villain? For Ginevra and her beloved Ariodante, things may never be the same. Lyric is proud to produce the company premiere of this important Baroque masterpiece from the composer of Messiah which marries stunning vocalism and riveting drama. 

Making its U.S. debut, this critically-acclaimed Lyric coproduction from Director Richard Jones updates the story to 1970s Scotland, where a close-knit, fundamentalist community provides the thought-provoking backdrop. The Toronto Globe and Mail says, "The decisions Jones has made to update and deepen the resonances of the opera work beautifully both to preserve the integrity of the original and add to it touches and textures that only a modern audience can appreciate…If you needed one example to demonstrate why modern staging and perfectly realized music from the past need each other, this was it." 

Don't miss this highly anticipated Lyric premiere that critics are calling "dramatically complex... deliciously interesting" – (The Toronto Star). 

5 REASONS YOU CAN'T MISS ARIODANTE
Handel’s Baroque masterpiece is currently playing Lyric, and there are so many reasons you can’t miss it. Here are just a few: 

1. It’s a Lyric premiere. Believe it or not, this rare gem by the composer of the beloved Messiah has never been performed on Lyric’s stage.

2. The cast is truly world-class. Our dream team of opera superstars have voices ideally suited to bring Ariodante to life.

3. It's the U.S. premiere of a production that earned rave reviews. TheToronto Star called it "deliciously interesting" and the National Post praised its "inspired and meticulous staging."

4. Handel’s music is exhilarating. You will fall in love with a score that exudes both passion and elegance.

5. It's not just great music, it's great theater. This story of true love plagued by obstacles in a small town is just as universal today as it was when the opera first premiered.

Save your seats today for Ariodante, on stage March 2-17, and experience this delightful and innovative production for yourself.




Thursday, February 28, 2019

Handel’s Masterpiece ARIODANTE Now Playing at Lyric Opera of Chicago Select Dates Through March 17, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

ARIODANTE 
Now Playing at Lyric Opera of Chicago
Six performances March 2 - 17
by George Frideric Handel
Sung in Italian with projected English translations


**This production includes mature themes**



Provocative Baroque drama about abuse and complicity
in a bold, updated staging 

New coproduction and Lyric premiere of Handel’s masterpiece



The Lyric Opera of Chicago premiere of George Frideric Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Ariodante opens Saturday, March 2 at 7:30pm in a provocative new coproduction. There are six performances March 2 through March 17 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago. Tickets start at $39, and are available now at lyricopera.org/Ariodante or at 312-827-5600. 


VILLAINOUS POLINESSO LUSTS AFTER GINEVRA, BUT SHE LOVES NOBLE ARIODANTE, WHO LOVES HER IN RETURN.

Sometimes opera takes you to completely unexpected, dramatically powerful places.

That’s certainly the case with the Lyric premiere of Handel’s Ariodante, on multiple levels. Some of its thrilling arias might be familiar from concerts or recordings, but the full Baroque masterpiece is terra incognita for many (even though it was wildly popular when Handel, the German expat living in London, was composing multiple Italian operas). Still, there is inviting familiarity in the bouncing beat and virtuoso vocal writing in this new-to-Lyric opera.

The original plot of Ariodante is full of Shakespearean twists, disguises, mistaken identities, wrenching misunderstandings, and eventual reconciliation (not unlike Much Ado About Nothing). Ginevra and Ariodante love each other and are about to be wed with the blessing of her father, the King of Scotland. Polinesso covets Ginevra and uses her lady-in-waiting, Dalinda (who loves Polinesso), to trick Ariodante into believing Ginevra is unfaithful and provoke his apparent suicide. Ariodante’s brother Lurcanio, meanwhile, loves and is shunned by Dalinda, and blames Ginevra for his sibling’s seeming demise. Eventually Ariodante turns up alive, Polinesso is vanquished, and the “right” couples are united. 



Richard Jones’s production moves the story from medieval times to an isolated, religiously fundamentalist Scottish island in the 1970s. Polinesso is an outsider from the mainland who penetrates this closed community in preacher’s clothes, wreaking terrible havoc on several relationships and the fabric of the village itself through acts of abuse and manipulation. Rather than ending with the reconciliation and redemption traditional in 18th-century opera, this production of Ariodante takes an intriguing detour that will resonate with contemporary audiences.

Puppets representing Ginevra and Ariodante pantomime scenes that reflect the community’s expectations and misperceptions of the central couple in this production, replacing ballet sequences used to close each act in the original opera.

Baroque opera “is radical theater,” says Anthony Freud. “Ariodante deals with abuse and complicity.” Lyric’s general director calls this production of Ariodante “a clear, immediate, powerful telling of the story that will defy preconceptions about Handel’s Baroque formality. Our production reflects many contemporary issues. Handel’s masterpiece may be over 280 years old, but is startling in its topicality and intensity.”

The creative team drew inspiration for this production of Ariodante from the dark indie film Breaking the Waves, and also the plays of Strindberg and Ibsen. There are similarities to Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, in which an innocent young woman in Appalachia is seduced by an itinerant preacher. There are also traces of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes in the community turning against one of its own. 

Lyric’s splendid cast inhabits the complex characters while singing the daunting score to great effect. Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote takes on the title role, with soprano Brenda Rae (Lyric debut) as Ariodante’s betrothed, Ginevra. Soprano Heidi Stober portrays the vulnerable Dalinda, manipulated by the evil Polinesso, played by countertenor Iestyn Davies. Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the King of Scotland. Tenor Eric Ferring portrays Lurcanio.  and tenor Josh Lovell portrays Odoardo (the latter two are Ryan Opera Center artists). 






Acclaimed Baroque specialist Harry Bicket conducts, and Benjamin Davis (Lyric debut) is revival director. The production is designed by ULTZ (Lyric debut), with lighting by Mimi Jordan Sherin. Michael Black is chorus master, Lucy Burge is choreographer, Finn Caldwell is puppetry director and designer, and Nick Barnes is puppetry designer (the latter three are Lyric debuts).  




Don't miss your chance to experience this critically-acclaimed premiere — view the trailer here and find out for yourself why critics are praising its "tight, compelling story and rich, well-developed characters" (Chicago Sun-Times).


ARIODANTE IS "QUITE MOVING" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE)
In a small town rife with rumors, who can you trust? The highly anticipated U.S. premiere co-production of Handel's Ariodante opened Saturday night and critics are raving. With only five more performances, Ariodante must close March 17. See what people are saying about this Lyric premiere:

"Vocally, visually and dramatically arresting"
"Clarity and rhythmic verve from the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus"
"An opera penned nearly three centuries ago can resonate profoundly with modern times, when staged as tellingly as this"
"★ ★ ★ ★" (out of four) 
–Chicago Tribune

"Unexpected and intriguing"
"The casting for this production could hardly have been better"
"Many vocal high points"
"★ ★ ★ ½" (out of four)
–Chicago Sun-Times

"Dazzling vocal pyrotechnics"
"A daunting tour de force"
–Stage and Cinema


What happens when someone your town trusts is actually the villain? For Ginevra and her beloved Ariodante, things may never be the same. Lyric is proud to produce the company premiere of this important Baroque masterpiece from the composer of Messiah which marries stunning vocalism and riveting drama. 

Making its U.S. debut, this critically-acclaimed Lyric coproduction from Director Richard Jones updates the story to 1970s Scotland, where a close-knit, fundamentalist community provides the thought-provoking backdrop. The Toronto Globe and Mail says, "The decisions Jones has made to update and deepen the resonances of the opera work beautifully both to preserve the integrity of the original and add to it touches and textures that only a modern audience can appreciate…If you needed one example to demonstrate why modern staging and perfectly realized music from the past need each other, this was it." 

Don't miss this highly anticipated Lyric premiere that critics are calling "dramatically complex... deliciously interesting" – (The Toronto Star). 

5 REASONS YOU CAN'T MISS ARIODANTE
Handel’s Baroque masterpiece is currently playing Lyric, and there are so many reasons you can’t miss it. Here are just a few: 

1. It’s a Lyric premiere. Believe it or not, this rare gem by the composer of the beloved Messiah has never been performed on Lyric’s stage.

2. The cast is truly world-class. Our dream team of opera superstars have voices ideally suited to bring Ariodante to life.

3. It's the U.S. premiere of a production that earned rave reviews. TheToronto Star called it "deliciously interesting" and the National Post praised its "inspired and meticulous staging."

4. Handel’s music is exhilarating. You will fall in love with a score that exudes both passion and elegance.

5. It's not just great music, it's great theater. This story of true love plagued by obstacles in a small town is just as universal today as it was when the opera first premiered.

Save your seats today for Ariodante, on stage March 2-17, and experience this delightful and innovative production for yourself.


Monday, January 28, 2019

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

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
LA BOHÈME 
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




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