The Winner…of our Discontent

In their 105the revue, the new management at The Second City has presented their six creator/performers a mixed bag of sketch comedy titles: The Winner…of our Discontent which asks if its broken, should we fix it? With post-election drama filled with rich comic possibilities, I was amazed at the lack of biting comedy in the group’s sketch bits about the election?. True there were some funny bits like the Cubs bat boy bit and the three guys watering the lawn but there were also several bits that just didn’t produce laughs.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Lucia Di Lammermoor

But Lucia Di Lammermoor rests on the performance and vocal acumen of Lucia and Edgardo. Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova’s mad scene (one of the most famous in opera) was powerfully sung and acted by Shagimuratova. She is becoming the finest Lucia in the world! Also Polish tenor Piotr Beczala is known as thee Edgardo in the world today. Together these two propel this opera to the heavens. Add the fine coral work and the fine work from Romanian bass Adrian Sampetrean as chaplain Raimondo and this opera plays as a triumph bel canto opera

Read more

Let Me Entertain You: Jule Styne’s Greatest Hits

Tunes from Funny Girl (lyrics by Bob Merrill) with like know shows that produced songs that became standards, this songfest produces one tuneful song after another. we remember songs like “The Party’s Over,” ” Don’t Rain on My Parade,” I’ve Heard That Song Before,” “It’s Been A Long Time,” “Saturday Night Is the Loneliest Night of the Week, “It’s Magic, ” “Time After Time,” and “Make Someone Happy” and “People” are among the wonderful tunes that not only were sung expertly but presented with their meaning or spirit.

Read more

Das Rheingold

In a new production, the Lyric Opera of Chicago has mounted the finest staging that I have ever seen of an opera! Wagner, who wanted his Der Ring des Nibelungen to be know as a music drama, would be proud of David Pountney’s stage of Das Rheingold which was based on Johan Engels and Robert Innes Hopkins designs. Below you’ll see a vast array of photos in order for readers to get a feel for this magnificent staging that enhances Wagner’s music drama as a compliment to Wagner’s power score and the fantastic voices from the world class singers.

Read more

The Love Potion (Le Vin Herbe)

Sung in English (translation by Hugh MacDonald) with a large video depicting the story with a huge English super titles, The Love Potion works well. Featuring music that sounds like film underscoring rich in piano and string sounds, The Love Potion’s singing makes the story come alive. The 12 person ensemble (a kind of Greek chorus) sounded terrific and the leads led the way.

From tenor Bernard Holcomb’s Tristan to soprano Lani Stait’s Isolde to baritone Nicholas Davis’ King Mark, these featured artists carried the opera with their expressively skilled voices

Read more