Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: The King and I/Lyric Opera of Chicago

Opera Reviews, Recommended Opera, Recommended Shows No Comments »
King & I 2

Kate Baldwin and Paolo Montalban/Photo: Todd Rosenberg


Lyric Opera of Chicago has found a formula that comes closer to a successful collaboration between the resources of a major opera company and the magic of musical theater. This “The King and I” employs the sort of voices that approach the color and control, if not the size, that one might hope for in an operatic venue, while maintaining the clarity of characterization upon which a Broadway production relies. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Romeo and Juliet/Lyric Opera of Chicago

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The ensemble of Romeo and Juliet/Photo: Todd Rosenberg

The cast of “Romeo and Juliet”/Photo: Todd Rosenberg


Perhaps best known for the heroine’s waltz song, which arrives in the first act and isn’t quite equaled for sparkling melody thereafter, there is still much music to savor in this operatic tragedy. In director Bartlett Sher’s hands, this production is both a feast of grand opera and a cinematic story that invites the uninitiated to take a seat at the table. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Der Rosenkavalier/Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Sophie Koch/Photo: Cory Weaver

Sophie Koch/Photo: Cory Weaver


Can anyone listen to the uprush of that first glorious phrase in “Der Rosenkavalier” without getting goose flesh? Without feeling a joy so intense it puts one’s heart in one’s mouth?

One is in a fairyland that never was and will never be, the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy not only idealized but transported to an eternal park in the sky. It is Shaw’s “Man and Superman, ” the sound of angels laughing. It is Moliere’s “Le Bourgeois gentilhomme” set to fastidious, fantastic, passionate music. It is paradise, an Eden of gaiety, of delicate, indolent sensuousness, a world of endless late-afternoon summer sunshine. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: La Voix Humaine & Gianni Schicchi/Chicago Opera Theater

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Patricia Racette/Photo: Michael Brosilow

Patricia Racette/Photo: Michael Brosilow

La Voix Humaine


I don’t think I was the only one who observed, immediately after the curtain went up Saturday night on the first of two operas at the Harris Theater, that it was a mistake to stage Francis Poulenc’s “La Voix Humaine” in that cavern.

“La Voix” is a chamber opera, fitted for an audience of no more than 500. The Harris has a capacity of 1,500. Much of its effect depends on the proximity of its performers to the audience and to the orchestra—on the spatial intimacy of these three. Read the rest of this entry »

The Return of the Ring Heads: An In-Depth Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Next Season, Anchored by the Start of a New Ring Cycle

Opera, Profiles No Comments »
Model of the set for Lyric's "Das Rheingold"

Model of the set for Lyric’s “Das Rheingold”

By Aaron Hunt

Lyric has announced its electric, eclectic 2016/17 season. If you’re already an operagoer, this is a major opportunity to put seldom-heard notches in your production belt. If not, this could be an exhilarating new journey where art forms merge, creating a distinctive experience.

The season begins with a new production of “Das Rheingold,” the first of four Wagner operas to be presented by Lyric, one each season, culminating in the glorious marathon of an entire “Ring Cycle” in April 2020. You could compare that event to binge-watching the complete “Star Wars” saga. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Nabucco/Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Jesse Donner,      Laura Wilde,      Sergei Skorokhodov, Željko Lu?i?, Tatiana Serjan, Elizabeth DeShong

Jesse Donner, Laura Wilde, Sergey Skorokhodov, Željko Lucic, Tatiana Serjan, Elizabeth DeShong/Photo: Andrew Cioffi



“Nabucco” established Verdi’s preeminence as an operatic composer not only with its winding melodies and passionate declamations but because it struck a nerve with a populace embroiled in the fierce pull-and-push of political unrest.

Director Matthew Ozawa and his design team stretch to frame the competing religions and nationalities with a cast of 120, most playing characters from both sects. Each group is costumed in long, simple robes of sharply contrasting colors with more natural movement for one faction and militaristic for the other. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Bel Canto/Lyric Opera of Chicago

Opera, Opera Reviews, Recommended Opera, World Premiere No Comments »
Danielle de Niese/Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Danielle de Niese/Photo: Todd Rosenberg


As the latest torrents of terrorism shatter our souls with their senseless deaths and enhanced suspicions, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s world-premiere production of “Bel Canto” could not be more poignantly opportune. Drawn from Ann Patchett’s bestselling novel, an opera diva in the center of a hostage situation orchestrates a truce that empowers both captors and captives to see that they are all detainees of a struggle that is void of personhood. Despite differences of race, gender, religion, language and social strata, an unsteady but palpable community emerges. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Merry Widow/Lyric Opera of Chicago

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11/11/15 2:49:33 PM -- The Lyric Opera of Chicago Presents "The Merry Widow" Renee Fleming © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015

Renée Fleming and Thomas Hampson/Photo: Todd Rosenberg


Franz Lehár’s beloved, wildly successful operetta “The Merry Widow” will woo and then suspend in delicious wistfulness even the staunchest objector to its inclusion in the repertoire of a major opera company. With its melancholy yet hopeful waltz, ample opportunities for mazurkas, can-cans and polkas as well as a generous role for a cherished leading lady of a soprano-bent, “The Merry Widow” will, by the third act, require that handkerchiefs be located. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Wozzeck/Lyric Opera of Chicago

Opera, Opera Reviews, Recommended Opera 1 Comment »
Tomasz Konieczny,      Stefan Vinke/Cory Weaver

Tomasz Konieczny, Stefan Vinke/Photo: Cory Weaver


The Lyric Opera of Chicago launched its season with two confections—cakes appeared on stage in both—and now moves on to meat. If “Le Nozze di Figaro” and “Cenerentola” focused on the strictures of class structure, “Wozzeck” deposits Lyric’s audiences into the madness of war, and the way it destroys body, heart and that elusive imperative, the soul. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Cinderella/Lyric Opera of Chicago

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10/1/152:41:08 PM Chicago,      IL Lyric Opera of Chicago Sir Anthony Davis,      Conductor Cinderella Dress Rehearsal Isabel Leonard,      Cinderella Lawrence Brownlee, Prince Ramiro, Alessandro Corbelli, Don Magnifico, Vito Priante (debut) Dandini, © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015

Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Alessandro Corbelli, Vito Priante/Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Last Sunday’s afternoon matinee of Gioachino Rossini’s “Cinderella” (“La Cenerentola”) at the Lyric Opera set me musing. Why would Lyric director Anthony Freud schedule a romantic feminist dramma giocoso, a chamber opera, in his cavernous 3,563-seat house? My answer: Freud aimed at the eight-to-twelve-year-old North Shore demographic, privileged kids whose parents think nothing of plunking down $950 for four main-floor seats. Read the rest of this entry »