The Sound of Music at the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Music by Richard Rodgerslyric opera of chicago

Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Book by Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse

Directed by Marc Bruni

Conductor: Rob Fisher

Choreographer Denis Jones

At the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lavish, lush, lovely heartwarming spectacular production of The Sound of Music radiates

Utilizing the vast assets of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  director Marc Bruni and set designer Michael Yeargan has mounted a beautifully visual production of one of the most beloved musical ever – The Sound of Music. This flawless production does everything right. From the opening scene that  finds  the nuns changing in Latin to Maria (Jenn Gambatese) soaring as she sings the title song on a set that screams Alps, we instantly become enchanted into the world of Salzburg, Austria in 1938.

lyric opera of chicago Maria sings “My Favorite Things” with the Mother  Abbes (Christine Brewer) as she is sent to be the governess to the von Trapp family so that she can test her vocation. She is greeted by the stern military patriarch, Captain von Trapp (Billy Zane) and the seven children.

lyric opera of chicago

Maria quickly charms the children with her warmth and her musical acumen. She teaches them how to sing using the cleverly harmonious “Do Re Mi” that was wonderfully sung and stage as the first of many show-stoppers in this lush production. lyric opera of chicaho

Lisel (Betsy Farrar) is sixteen and infatuated by 17 year old Rolf (Zach Sorrow) as the sing and dance a mini-ballet to the romantic tune “Sixteen going on Seventeen.”

Later that evening,  Maria hosts the children in her bedroom as a severe lighting storm frightens all. She gets them to sing their fears away with the folk-like song: “The Lonely Goatherd.” Maria has effectively bonds with the children who adore her as Jenn Gambratese rings total honest, sincerity, and warm to Maria with her fine vocal chops to make Maria a complete character.

lyric opera of chicago The original 1959 stage production of  The Sound of Music is different from the 1965 film particularly with a more fuller development of the Max Detweiler (Edward Hibbert) and Elsa Schraeder (Elizabeth Futral). They sing tow songs that were cut from the film: “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way to Stop It.” Those scenes made the story stronger as it explains why a Austrian patriat like the Captain could never work with the Nazis as they take over Austria.

When the Captain gives a dinner to honor Elsa,  a romantic folk dance lesson between Maria and the Captain to the captivating Austrian dance the Landler steams with romantic sparks between maria and the Captain leading young Brigitta (Isabelle Roberts) to tell maria that the Captain loves her not Elsa

. Maria quietly leave the villa and returns to the Abbey where the Mother Abbess that love between a man and a woman is a holy thing and that maria must return to the villa to find her destiny.

Mother sings the soaring anthem “Climb Ev’ry Mountain that rings from the rafters as opera star Christine Brewer bets it so f=effectively!

lyric Act two finds Max arranging the local folk festival and Elsa comes to realize that she and the Captain are destined not to marry especially after Maria returns.  Maria and the Captain sing “Something Good” as they seal their mutual commitment to marry. The welding is a spectacle as the nuns, the children and the bishop marry Maria and the Captain.

Once the Nazi’s take over Austria and the Captain is awarded a commission in their Navy, the Captain realizes that he must escape Austria immediately

.The do so by using the folk concert as a ploy to fool the Nazis and facilitate their escape. The reprise their songs ad they introduce the wonderful hopeful folks son “Edelweiss” that refers to the yearly blooming of the lovely flower. That hopeful tune was the last lyric Oscar Hammerstein II wrote – a fitting farewell to a man who preached hope throughout his life.

lyric opera of chicago Fittingly, the von Trapp family escape through the mountains after the nuns help hide them from the Nazis. the powerful “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” bring this delightful musical to a hopeful and emotional ending.

The Lyric Opera’s  production contains all the original orchestrations and sound fantastic as the 37 piece orchestra and with the powerhouse operatic voices from Christine Brewer and Elizabeth Futral and the fine vocals from Jenn Gambatese,  Betsy Farrar and Zach Sorrow, this Sound of Music sang a a high level.

Billy Zane (a young Marlon Brando lookalike) sported an antiquate voice he was commanding as the Captain. Edward Hibbert was whimsical as the plotting impresario. Local talents Susan Moniz (Sister Sophia), Cory Goodrich (Sister Bertha), Dev Kennedy (Franz). Mary Ernster (Frau Schmidt), Michael Weber (Admiral) were all terrific as were the children. lyric opera of chicago

The Lyric Opera’s production of  The Sound of Music was the finest production of the beloved musical that I have ever seen!  It is visually stunning, true to the original with any reinterpretations, and marvelously scaled into a spectacle that befits the material.

It sings marvelously; has charm and heart to spare while the ‘sounds of it music’ stirs our souls as the Lyric orchestra, under the masterful conductor Rob Fisher, do justice to Richard Rodgers fabulous score.

The Lyric Opera’s memorable production of  The Sound of Music respects the material as it uses its vast resources to honor great Broadway musicals. Kudos to the Lyric opera of Chicago for expanding into this repertoire. Take your family to see this production of  The Sound of Music because they’ll see a fabulous large scale production that will not likely be done again. don’t miss this wonderful production!

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

For more info checkout The Sound of Music page at

At the Lyric Opera of Chicago,  tickets $29 – $129, running time is 2 hours, 50 minutes with intermission, through May 25, 2014

Leave a Reply