Director Christopher Alden created a memorable furor a few years back with a radical production of Rigoletto at Chicago’s Lyric Opera. Now he’s back, but at the more adventurous Chicago Opera Theater, where he’s stepped in for Diane Paulus as director of Mozart’s neglected late opera, La Clemenza di Tito

Conducted by Jane Glover with a cast of excellent younger singers, it’s the story of Roman emperor Titus and his attempts to land a politically correct bride while the daughter of his predecessor schemes to either get the job herself or do away with him–and turns his loyal friend into his would-be murderer. Rife with misunderstandings and cross-gender casting, it’s smart, good-looking, and, in Alden’s staging, often humorous.

Outstanding performances include Amanda Majeski as Vitellia, the schemer; Renata Pokupic as Sesto, her unfortunate tool; and Dominic Armstrong as the emperor. But my favorite was Paula Murrihy, as Sesto’s appealingly klutzy but gorgeous-voiced friend, Annio.

There are three more shows: April 26 at 3 PM, April 29 at 7:30 PM, and May 1 at 7:30 PM. All are at the Harris Theater. Tickets are $30 to $120 at or 312-704-8414; check for half-price tickets in the middle of that range (with no service charges), which will be available from 1 to 2 PM on Sunday for the 3 PM show.