Eugene Onegin

Told in three acts and seven scenes and utilizing a stark empty set, Eugene Onegin is filled with Tchaikovsky’s most dramatic music rich in emotions that was effectively sung by this wonderful cast. Besides the wonderful turn by Mariusz Kwiecien, we enjoy fine work by Jill Grove as the nanny Filipyevna with Alisa Kolosova singing Olga beautifully. The Lyric Chorus sounded terrific and Tchaikovsky’s music was nicely conducted by Alejo Perez.

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Carmen – 2017- Lyric Opera of Chicago

The story revolves around a Spanish gypsy (the wild free-loving Carmen, played seductively by mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova) and the man she takes as a lover, a Spanish corporal, Don José (The powerful tenor Joseph Calleja). He is an upright but flawed man, with a mother and would-be fiancée in his home village; quick to temper and impulsive, when he shirks the advances of the beautiful gypsy, she finds him irresistible and throws a rose at him, striking him between the eyes. Having bewitched him, Carmen convinces Don José to go to prison in her stead; upon his release, he finds her, and she wants to run away together.

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The Invention of Morel

To me, this musical surrealism didn’t engage me and quickly became tedious and over produced. It was a long 90 minute one act opera. I’m just too much of a traditionalist to appreciate surrealism in opera. The Invention of Morel could be a treat for lovers of modern, experimental opera? But traditionalist will not appreciate it. But since there seems to be an audience for musical surrealism, The Invention of Morel could appeal to their tast

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Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street -Paramount Theatre

The story of the demon barber of Fleet Street revolves around Sweeney Todd’s ( the baritone Paul-Jordan Jansen) obsessive desire to seek revenge on the man responsible for exiling him, destroying his wife, and stealing his child. While awaiting his opportunity for retribution, he and the entrepreneurial Mrs. Lovett (Bri Sudia), become partners in a horrific venture in which Sweeney Todd provides Mrs. Lovett with the pivotal ingredient for her meat pies after giving his customers the “closest shave they will ever get.”

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Tonya & Nancy The Rock Opera

This is a wildly paced and extremely loud production that tells the story of the 1990’s ice skating scandal that marred the rivalry between American Olympic ice skaters Tonya Harding ( Amanda Horvath) and Nancy Kerrigan (Courtney Mack).

The production take a tabloid approach to the story of rivalry and desperation as the quest for Olympic stardom overtakes each skater. We see the role of the mothers both played by Veronica Garza as she belts her way through the opera.

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Don Quichotte (Don Quixote)

Jules Massenet’s (1842-1912) Don Quichotte is “comédie-héroïque” with sweepingly lush score composed in 1909-10 while the composer was ill and after he has a failed opera (Bacchus). Don Quichotte features a lighter take on the idealistic, delusional knight and his squire Sancho than the 1964 Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. Both are excellent takes on Cervantes’ classic.

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Les Troyens (The Trojans)

Many opera companies considered Hector Berlioz ‘s (1803-1869) Les Troyens epic musical drama too difficult and to expensive to produce as it contained a cast of 22 singers, a large chorus (here 94 members), with two ballets, a large orchestra and an ambitious set with several locations. Berlioz never was able to mount a complete 5-act version of his opera in his lifetime. Even today, the requirements by solo and duet vocalists, , conductors, choruses, orchestras, instrumentalists, stage directors, lighting, projection and set designers make Les Troyens simply too difficult to mount. Kudos to the creatives at the Lyric Opera of Chicago to have the determination and vision to mount Berlioz’s masterpiece. This is a rarely mounted and extremely creative opera that needs to be experienced.

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The Fairy Queen

Andreas Mitisek has outsmarted himself by using contemporary Vegas punk characters and staging for a baroque opera from 1692. Henry Purcell’s (1659-1695) opera is loosely based on A Midsummer’s Nightthat featured amazing sets and mythical figures. But director Andreas Mitisek has chosen to stage The Fairy Queen in Vegas as a punk cult party filled with raunchy sex and desiccant characters. The modern staging and lyrics are edgy and contradict the music.

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