Coats and clouds at Stars of Lyric Opera Credit: Deanna Isaacs

General director Anthony Freud got a laugh at Friday night’s Stars of Lyric Opera performance at Millennium Park when he noted that, as usual, the Chicago weather was perfect.

In a week that had gone directly from sweat to shivers, the audience huddled. At least it wasn’t raining.

The program offered generous excerpts from the two opening operas of the upcoming season, suggesting good things to come—especially the Lyric debut of tenor Lawrence Brownlee as the prince in Rossini’s Cinderella and an exuberantly cast new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

The always great Lyric Opera chorus and orchestra were on hand, conducted by music director Sir Andrew Davis.    

Chicago Shakespeare’s Barbara Gaines is directing Figaro, and it’s a new production; it should be interesting to see what she’ll do with it. Friday’s concert version of the second act definitely whetted appetites for the fleshed-out show to come. Bass-baritone Adam Plachetka, in another Lyric debut, promises to be highly entertaining in the title role, and we’ll get to see (and hear) Amanda Majeski in something totally different from her dark triumph as Marta in last season’s The Passenger.

Someone needs to tell the powers that be at Millennium Park, however, that it’s not a good idea to hang the equivalent of a brighter-than-the-sun LED billboard on the front of Frank Gehry’s sculptural Pritzker Pavilion. If folks need to be able to read the supertitles all the way to Indiana, they can now, according to Freud, do it on their cell phones. (Details at