• Liz Lauren
  • Peabody Southwell looms large over Maria.

In a little unofficial polling after the opening-night performance of Chicago Opera Theater’s Maria de Buenos Aires last week, I asked my husband what he thought about Maria losing her top for a couple of scenes.

“Very nice,” he said.

But did it work, you know, dramatically?

“Yes,” he said. “She has very nice breasts.”

I thought it was odd when COT general director Andreas Mitisek told the Sun-Times that his leading lady, mezzo Peabody Southwell—who, by the way, also has an outstanding set of pipes—was cast, in part, because she’s “willing to go into tough emotional realms onstage.”

Intense emotion is a pretty routine requirement in opera.