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Showing posts with label opera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label opera. Show all posts

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Chicago Opera Theater Presents Freedom Ride With Chicago Sinfonietta at Studebaker Theater Through February 16, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
World Premiere
FREEDOM RIDE
Commissioned by Chicago Opera Theater


Music & Libretto by Dan Shore
Conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya
Directed by Tazewell Thompson

I'm elated to spend Valentines Day reviewing the world premiere of Dan Shore’s Freedom Ride, based on the Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans, at the Studebaker Theater. Developed at Xavier University in collaboration with activists who lived the history, Freedom Ride explores themes with searing social relevance, via a score that draws from Louisiana’s rich musical traditions. A diverse cast of Chicago-based artists and internationally acclaimed talent join the Chicago Sinfonietta to bring this powerful work to life.

When the Congress of Racial Equality comes to New Orleans in the sweltering summer of 1961, Sylvie Davenport is torn. Handed a pamphlet and asked to board a Greyhound bus, Sylvie is forced to choose between her academic future and the future of the nation in a story that highlights how far we’ve come and how far we still have left to go.

Tazewell Thompson (Blue, Jubilee) directs this world premiere new work, developed at Xavier University with the activists who lived the history. Staley Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts the critically acclaimed Chicago Sinfonietta.



Saturday, February 8, 2020 | 7:30 PM
Friday, February 14, 2020 | 7:30 PM
Sunday, February 16, 2020 | 3:00 PM

Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya
Director Tazewell Thompson
Scenic Design Donald Eastman
Costume Design Harry Nadal
Projection Design Rasean Davonte Johnson
Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel
Assistant Conductor Kedrick Armstrong
Chorus Master Adrian Dunn

CAST:
Sylvie Davenport Dara Rahming
Leonie Baker Whitney Morrison
Georgia Davenport Zoie Reams
Russell Davenport Tyrone Chambers
Rev. Mitchell Cornelius Johnson
Clayton Thomas Robert Sims
Ruby Kim Jones
Mae, Chorus Samantha Schmid*
Gloria, Chorus, Georgia (Cover) Leah Dexter
Frances, Chorus Morgan Middleton*
Marc, Chorus Blake Friedman
Tommie, Chorus, Clayton (Cover) Vince Wallace
Chorus, Leonie Baker (Cover) Joelle Lamarre
Chorus, Russell (Cover) Cameo Humes
Reverend Mitchell (Cover) Curtis Bannister
Chorus, Mae (Cover) Kristina Bachrach
Chorus, Marc (Cover) William Ottow*
Chorus, Tommie (Cover) Keanon Kyles
Chorus, Gloria (Cover), Francis (Cover) Beena David



COT is thrilled to partner with Chicago Sinfonietta for Freedom Ride.

Since 1987, Chicago Sinfonietta has been a defiantly different kind of orchestra. The orchestra was founded by Maestro Paul Freeman to address the disconnect between the utter lack of diversity in orchestras and the vibrant, nuanced, communities for which they play. For nearly 30 years, we have made it our mission to represent the city of Chicago, reflecting that vibrancy on stage and in our programming, making classical music accessible for anyone.

In everything we do, we are inspired by our founder Paul Freeman (1936-2015). From humble roots in Richmond, Virginia, he grew to become a passionate musician and ultimately a brilliant conductor equally respected for his knowledge of music as he was for his natural leadership and charming sense of humor. He was the first African American conductor on the podium of more than 50 orchestras worldwide and conducted more than 100 orchestras in 28 countries over the course of his career. He served as chief conductor of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in Prague (1996-2007) and the music director of the Victoria Symphony in Canada (1979-1989). He made more than 200 recordings in his career (on par with mega maestros such as von Karajan and Bernstein) and highlighted prominent, but under-recorded, diverse composers at every turn.

And, so it goes. The accomplishments of Paul Freeman are startling in their magnitude.

The orchestra’s 29 years have been highlighted by six European tours, two Kennedy Center performances, two Millennium Park concerts attended by over 19,000 people, and 15 recordings. For nearly 30 years, diversity, inclusion and bold and dynamic programming has been at the center of what we do. Rarely performed music by composers of color are a Sinfonietta staple and often include almost entirely lost compositions that are carefully pieced together and preserved through recording and/or the production of sheet music. Unusual instruments and musical styles like the bagpipes, steel drums, sitar, Indian Ghazal music, hip hop, and yes, even cell phones have served as centerpieces for Sinfonietta programs – some of the most daring musical collaborations any orchestra is putting on stage.

In 2011, Maestro Mei-Ann Chen began her tenure with the orchestra (as only the second Music Director in the Sinfonietta’s history). In her first season, the Sinfonietta was named by ASCAP as the recipient of the 2011-12 Award for Adventurous Programming and in 2013 was dubbed, “The city’s hippest orchestra” by the Chicago Tribune. From a battle of the bands with Mucca Pazza to collaborations with Young Chicago Authors, FootworKINGZ, and bass virtuoso, Victor Wooten the Sinfonietta has embraced the daring programming that has always been part of its history. In turn, audience response over the last five seasons has been unprecedented.

The legacy passed to Maestro Chen and all of us at the Sinfonietta goes far beyond what you see on stage. Maestro Freeman was, throughout his lifetime, a fierce advocate for early career, diverse musicians. Many of the musicians you see on stage (including our Concert Master since 1993, Paul Zafer) are the direct beneficiaries of this vision and personal investment that Maestro Freeman made in so many people. In 2008, this practice was formalized to create our Project Inclusion Fellowship Program. In the 9 seasons since this program began, Project Inclusion has served 45 fellows – more than all other similar fellowship programs in the country combined according to a 2016 League of American Orchestras study.


Freedom Ride is a part of Chicago Theatre Week!
Theatre week tickets are currently SOLD OUT, but check back for updates.


Special thanks to our sponsors for Freedom Ride:

Season Sponsors | Julie & Roger Baskes
Production Sponsor | Virginia Tobiason
Robert Sims Sponsors | Enriqueta & Ronald Bauer

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The More & Genius Operating Reserve Fund provided partial support for this project.

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.


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, February 25, 2019

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

LA TRAVIATA
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.



PRODUCTION SPONSORS

DONNA VAN EEKEREN
FOUNDATION THE MICHAEL AND
SUSAN AVRAMOVICH
CHARITABLE TRUST
NANCY AND SANFRED
KOLTUN LAUTER MCDOUGAL
CHARITABLE FUND BMO HARRIS BANK
ITW


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

Follow along on social media #LyricTraviata




7 REASONS LA TRAVIATA IS A CAN'T-MISS PRODUCTION

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 actress...as 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.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

REVIEW: “THE SCARLET IBIS” at CHICAGO OPERA THEATER


CHICAGO OPERA THEATER PRESENTS 
“THE SCARLET IBIS” 
FEBRUARY 16, 21 AND 24 AT HISTORIC STUDEBAKER THEATER


Operatic Adaptation of James Hurst’s 1960 Short Story Premieres in Chicago Having Received Rave Reviews at 2015 Prototype Festival




Guest Review
By Catherine Hellmann

Oh, how I love this city! On my way to the Studebaker Studio in the Fine Arts Building the other night, a sweet violinist on the street helped steer me in the right direction on Michigan Avenue. “What show are you seeing? The symphony?” No, Chicago Opera Theater. She was in the orchestra at the Auditorium for the Joffrey Ballet and said it is an amazing show. Ahhhh...so much culture in our world-class town. We are so spoiled.

The Chicago premiere of the contemporary opera The Scarlet Ibis was composed by Stefan Weisman with a libretto by David Cote. According to their press release: “Chicago Opera Theater presents the first full production of this operatic adaptation of James Hurst’s 1960 short story (apart from its festival debut), featuring the artistry of stage director Elizabeth Margolius and conductor David Hanlon. The opera stars Annie Rosen (who also performed in COT’s season-opening production of “Iolanta”) as Brother and Jordan Rutter as Doodle.”

Annie Rosen, mezzo-soprano, is amazing in the trouser role of Brother. Big Brother is the one who gives baby William his new nickname of “Doodle,” short for “Doodle Bug,” since the baby moves backwards. The opera opens with the mom in childbirth; Quinn Middleman sings her shrieks as the contractions continue on. William is a difficult birth, a tiny baby, and handicapped. However, he is born with a caul, “which is cut from Jesus’ nightgown,” according to his superstitious aunt. (A sheer curtain falls from the ceiling during the childbirth scene, representing the caul, which is a clever bit of staging.) It is believed that the caul will give him special abilities. Auntie is sung by a true contralto, Sharmay Musacchio, who hits the lowest notes I have ever heard from a woman. There is a great line where she insists the baby will be a boy because the mom is “carrying low, low, looooww,” with her voice hitting descending notes, playing a musical joke, resonating in that deep register.   

Because he is a sickly child, William is not expected to live. In a heartbreaking scene, his father, played by Bill McMurray, mourns his newborn as he constructs a small coffin. McMurray is so affecting in the role that his grief really moved me.  

But Wiliam not only survives, he thrives, under the guidance of his big brother. Doodle initially seems cognitively impaired. Until the day he gives Brother a huge smile; then big brother joyfully realizes “he’s all there.” Doodle is sung by countertenor Jordan Rutter. His voice is so high, I assumed the singer must be another woman in a pants role. Then I squinted at my program and saw the head shot showed a man with a beard. Wow. Having the two extremes of vocal ranges is unusual. The composer explains in the program that he wanted Doodle’s voice to sound “otherworldly” and “the female voices would be set lower than Doodle’s to allow his lines to soar above them all.”

The relationship between the brothers is so love-hate and typical. Doodle adores Brother. There are times when Brother is so big-brother mean to little Doodle, like calling him a “crippled runt,”  that I wanted Doddle to thump her with his cane!

But Doodle has too pure a heart. And he is too good for this world.

My Best Pal Mary had her reservations about the show based on the premise, but she fell in love with this unique production, as did I.

We later ran into the singer who played Auntie on Michigan Avenue. (great place to find musicians, apparently) “Weren’t you the aunt in the opera?” I called out. “Yes, I was,” replied Ms. Musacchio. She was gracious enough to stop and chat a couple minutes. I told her that she had that incredible low voice. She thanked me and said audiences don’t get to hear contraltos very often...or countertenors, either.

“Oh, a countertenor is like a unicorn!” I gushed. She laughed and agreed. They are just so rare.

Ms. Musacchio said she is from California but likes Chicago. She also said the entire cast is very tight, and it is “like a family” with Chicago Opera Theater. She had never experienced that kind of a closeness before.

What can I say? We live in a world-class city with fabulous arts and friendly folks. I can't imagine being anywhere else.  


Catherine Hellmann usually wins at “Three Truths and a Lie” because she really did walk 60 miles in three days (Avon Breast Cancer Walk), met Senator-Elect Barack Obama in the park, and sang twice at Carnegie Hall. She is a teacher by day and theater junkie by night. Her favorite job ever was leading tours at Wrigley Field




Chicago Opera Theater (COT) continues its 2018/2019 season with the Chicago premiere of the contemporary opera “The Scarlet Ibis.” Composed by Stefan Weisman with libretto by David Cote, “The Scarlet Ibis” was declared an “outstanding new chamber opera” by David Allen of The New York Times upon its debut at the 2015 Prototype Festival. Chicago Opera Theater presents the first full production of this operatic adaptation of James Hurst’s 1960 short story (apart from its festival debut), featuring the artistry of stage director Elizabeth Margolius and conductor David Hanlon. The opera stars Annie Rosen (who also performed in COT’s season-opening production of “Iolanta”) as Brother and Jordan Rutter as Doodle. 

The opening night and press performance takes place Saturday, February 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Studebaker Theater (410 S. Michigan Ave.) Additional performances will take place Thursday, February 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 24 at 3 p.m.  

That same week, COT will present a week-long workshop culminating in the first full concert performance of “The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing” by composer Justine F. Chen and librettist David Simpatico as part of Chicago Opera Theater’s Vanguard Initiative to promote the creation of new opera.

“COT’s mission to support the creation of new operatic work is exemplified in our February programming, with the first production of ‘The Scarlet Ibis’ since its debut at the 2015 Prototype Festival, and the first concert performance of ‘The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing’ as part of our Vanguard Initiative,” said Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director Douglas R. Clayton. “COT is proud to provide an opportunity for Chicago to see such new and exquisite operas for the first time.”

Based on James Hurst’s classic American short story, “The Scarlet Ibis” is a moving tale about brotherhood, nature and family, set in North Carolina against the backdrop of World War I. It tells the story of a young boy named Doodle and his relationship with his brother, exploring the ways people ‘other’ those who are different and questioning what it means to be ‘normal.’ The piece was commissioned and developed through the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP) and Dream Music Puppetry Program and co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects, premiering at the Prototype Festival in January 2015 in New York City.

“It’s thrilling to see ‘The Scarlet Ibis’ picked up for a second production following its premiere at our Prototype Festival,” said co-producer Beth Morrison. “Chicago Opera Theater is a forward thinking opera company, truly embodying what a 21st century opera company should be.”

Composer Stefan Weisman spoke to the development process of the opera stating, “One element of creating this opera that felt really unique was that the two leads are a countertenor and mezzo-soprano, both high voices for male characters. And they are played by two different genders. We are playing around with traditional notions of gender and power—the weaker of the two is the male singer, and the stronger is the female singer.”

Librettist David Cote continued, “The story is very much in the tradition of Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, even William Faulkner. The language is lush and flowery, the emotions run high and the ending is both beautiful and tragic. I’m not a Southerner, I grew up in small-town New Hampshire, but I drew on memories of living near a lake and playing in the woods to create the sense of nature and wonder in the opera.”

In addition to Rosen and Rutter, “The Scarlet Ibis” cast includes Quinn Middleman as Mother, Sharmay Musacchio as Aunt Nicey, Bill McMurray as Father and dancer Ginny Ngo.



Creative Team for The Scarlet Ibis

Composer: Stefan Weisman

Librettist: David Cote

Conductor: David Hanlon

Stage Director: Elizabeth Margolius

Lighting Design: Charlie Cooper

Scenic Design: Jack Magaw

Costume Design: Brenda Winstead


About Stefan Weisman

Stefan Weisman’s music has been described as "personal, moody and skillfully wrought" (The New York Times). His compositions include chamber, orchestral, theater, dance and choral pieces, and he has specialized in vocal works that explore edgy and compelling topics. His operas include “Darkling” (American Opera Projects), “Fade” (Second Movement), and “The Scarlet Ibis” (produced by HERE and Beth Morrison Projects and premiered in the 2015 PROTOTYPE opera festival). He is a graduate of Bard College (BA), Yale University (MA), and Princeton University (PhD). Presently, he is on the faculty of the Bard High School Early College in Queens, New York. 


About David Cote

David Cote is a playwright, librettist and arts journalist based in New York City. His operas include “Three Way” with composer Robert Paterson (Nashville Opera and BAM); “The Scarlet Ibis” (Prototype Festival) and “Fade” with Stefan Weisman. Other works include his plays “Otherland” and “Fear of Art;” song cycle with Paterson, “In Real Life;” choral works with Paterson, “Did You Hear?” and “Snow Day.” Cote was born and adopted in New Hampshire and is a proud alum of Bard College. His fellowships include The MacDowell Colony, and he is a member of the New York Drama Critics Circle, ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild.



About David Hanlon

David Hanlon is a composer, conductor and pianist praised by Maestro Patrick Summers as “one of the major compositional voices of the young generation.” He has often written work for Houston Grand Opera, including his chamber opera “Past the Checkpoints” about undocumented immigrants, the chamber vocal piece “The Ninth November I Was Hiding,” about his grandfather's arrest during Kristallnacht and “Power,” based on a text by a high-schooler about bullying. Hanlon was recently commissioned by the Opera For All Voices consortium to write a new chamber opera with librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, and recently conducted the premiere of his and Fleischmann's chamber opera “After the Storm” at Houston Grand Opera.


About Elizabeth Margolius



Elizabeth Margolius is a Chicago-based Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated stage and movement director with a primary focus in developing and directing new and rarely produced music theater, operetta and opera. Margolius’ Chicago and regional stage and movement directorial credits include “Miss Holmes” for Peninsula Players, “Machinal” for Greenhouse Theater, “The Bridges of Madison County” for Peninsula Players, “The Boy Who Grew Too Fast” for SUNY/Albany Opera Program and “Uncle Philip’s Coat” for Greenhouse Theater. Margolius has been a guest director, master artist and guest/adjunct lecturer at numerous colleges, universities and festivals including the University of Nebraska, DePaul University and SUNY Albany.


About Chicago Opera Theater

Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is a nationally recognized opera company based in Chicago, now in its 45th season. COT expands the tradition of opera as a living art form, with an emphasis on Chicago premieres, including new contemporary operas for a 21st century audience.

In addition to its programmed mainstage season, COT is devoted to the development and production of new opera in the United States through the Vanguard Initiative, launched in the Spring of 2018. The Vanguard Initiative mentors emerging opera composers, invests time and talent in new opera at various stages of the creative process and presents the Living Opera Series to showcase new and developing work.

Since its founding in 1973 by Alan Stone, COT has staged more than 125 operas, including over 65 Chicago premieres and more than 35 operas by American composers.

COT is led by Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director Douglas R. Clayton and Orli and Bill Staley Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya. As of fall 2018, Maestro Yankovskaya is the only woman with the title Music Director at any of the top 50 opera companies in the United States. COT currently performs at the Studebaker Theater (Michigan & Congress) and the Harris Theater for Music & Dance (Michigan & Randolph).


For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit chicagooperatheater.org.


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