Posted inArts & Culture

Lyric Opera’s Proximity

Spectacle? It’s long been the grand opera’s calling card. But never quite like this. Lyric Opera’s world premiere production of Proximity—closer to Immersive Van Gogh or Art on the Mart than to Aida—opened at the opera house last week. Directed and “mixed” by Yuval Sharon (creator of the parking garage Wagner, Twilight: Gods, which he […]

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A timely Turing

After a promising Chicago workshop performance four years ago, Chicago Opera Theater’s The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing returned for a two-performance world premiere at the Harris Theater last week, conducted by COT music director Lidiya Yankovskaya. It’s a gut-wrenching piece in a well-crafted production, with two major themes that couldn’t be more contemporary: […]

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A dance of contrasts

Scene: A blustery, freezing February night in Chicago. As we approach the Civic Opera House, a cluster of protestors come into focus. They’re holding aloft bloodied ballerina soft sculptures, signs that sport slogans like “supporting ‘great Russian culture’ is supporting the war,” and large-scale images of Oleksandr Shapoval, a Ukrainian ballet dancer and teacher who […]

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Soul opera

It’s been said that the soul of opera is its music, so in the case of The Factotum—Will Liverman and DJ King Rico’s original piece that is a loose take on Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville—hip-hop is at its beautiful core.  The MTV generation, or hip-hop fans of a certain age, can recall the […]

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Grimm and surreal

This surrealistic production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1893 opera version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale—seen twice before at Lyric—should probably be a Christmas show. But since Joffrey became Lyric’s roommate, we’re getting it now. Visually it’s nightmarish, claustrophobic, and monochromatic as a gray January day—but also striking: think fish-headed dream-scene maitre d’ overseeing a troop […]

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The Don and the Count

Deeply committed Verdi fans ought to get themselves to Lyric Opera’s first ever production of Don Carlos, the four-hour, five-act, 1867 French language version of the shorter Verdi opera they already know as the Italian language Don Carlo. This love vs. duty tale of historical fiction, loosely drawn from the life of a 16th-century Spanish […]

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In search of freedom

This commission by Chicago Opera Theater brings to town a new opera by the prolific and celebrated Belize-born British composer, singer, pianist, and performer Errollyn Wallen, with librettist Deborah Brevoort. Loosely based on S.I. Martin’s novel Incomparable World, the story is grounded in the little-known historical fact that the Brits recruited enslaved people in the […]

Posted inPerforming Arts Review

Holocaust, the opera

It was a little disturbing that in the final moments of Chicago Fringe Opera’s stirring production of the Holocaust opera Two Remain (Out of Darkness), what should pop into my head but “Springtime for Hitler.”   I was thinking I could blame Mel Brooks. If I’d never seen The Producers, maybe a rousing full-cast anthem titled […]

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What a concept!

Barrie Kosky’s magic take on Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which has been circling the globe for nearly a decade and seen by 700,000 people, landed on the Lyric Opera Stage this week. Concocted by original codirectors Kosky and Suzanne Andrade for Komische Oper Berlin, it’s magic in the most literal sense—a visual sleight of hand […]