The durable collaboration between the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera’s Center for American Artists has grown into a summer institution in Hyde Park. One reason for its popularity is the caliber of singing, playing, and conducting put forth by these apprentice outfits. Another is the unusual choice of operas, such as this felicitous double bill of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. Though it seems odd at first glance, the pairing of these comic one-acts makes a lot of sense: both mock familial pretensions and expectations. Based on an episode from Dante’s Inferno, Gianni Schicchi, the last panel of Puccini’s “Il trittico,” is a satire about greed conveyed in a rapturous melodic style. Trouble in Tahiti is a thoroughly modern and sardonic look at marriage and the nuclear family in the 50s, as only someone as simultaneously romantic and cynical as Bernstein could have seen it. His sly, witty, jazz-influenced score may be a bit too intellectual and precious when compared to his more successful and appealing musicals, but it’s eminently worth hearing. Both operas are staged by Jonathan Field, who assisted with Lyric Opera’s premiere of McTeague and the Seattle Opera’s Ring cycle and supervised a number of productions at second-tier houses. Barbara Schubert, the underpraised maestro of the U. of C. Symphony Orchestra who can instill confidence and conviction in her mostly semipro players, conducts. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, Hutchinson Courtyard, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; 702-8069.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Rest.