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June 2013
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A Night at the Opera?

Comedian Timothy Sniffen, photo by Todd Rosenberg

The Second City Guide to the Opera, photo by Todd Rosenberg

Humor is tragedy plus time.

–Mark Twain

Listen to Lauren Curnow and Timothy Sniffen discuss their current production: The Second City Guide to the Opera

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The Second City and Lyric Opera of Chicago are at it again, and the creative sparks are flying. Everyone in comedy knows that opera jokes are guaranteed for laughs; but truth be told, no one laughs at opera more than the opera singers. Call it office humor, but these singers are hams. They’re made to be onstage, inhabiting characters that don’t always track with modern life (in what other profession would one be asked to play a sweet gypsy woman who accidentally tosses her baby on a fire?).

The Second City Guide to the Opera, photo by Todd Rosenberg

The Second City Guide to the Opera, photo by Todd Rosenberg

Opera puts a strain on reality: most people don’t sing like opera singers; and they don’t stop doing something in order to sing about it. The scenarios are often implausible, but the emotional journey isn’t. A character’s circumstance, however improbable, evokes feelings that are universal. Opera endures, not for fantasy’s sake, but because of the truths revealed and experienced in a rare kind of power that could only be possible through music.

Therefore, it is with great affection and ribbing that Lyric Opera forged this union with those comic virtuosos at The Second City. For them, it’s an enormous opportunity for laughs and to bring the community closer to their art form. Judging by the enthusiasm of The Second City comedians, it’s working.

Lauren Curnow is an almuna of the Ryan Opera Center. Timothy Sniffen is a writer for The Second City. The Second City Guide to the Opera runs throughout the month of June.


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