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December 2014
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Opera

Johan Botha on Saturday’s Met

Johan Botha with Amanda Majeski and Dmitry Ivashchenko in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg"

South African opera singer Johan Botha is a regular at Lyric Opera of Chicago. In recent years, he’s sung Walther in “Die Meistersinger” and opened Lyric’s season last year as Otello. He’s been Lohengrin, and comes back to Chicago in February as Tannhäuser. The 49-year-old heldentenor is made for these heftier roles. The heldentenor is a voice type that can sing comfortably

Teatro Regio at the Harris and on WFMT

Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy

Producing opera is a 400 year old occupation for Italians. They’ve exported the scores of Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini to theaters worldwide, not to mention performers like Pavarotti and Toscanini. They’ve erected sumptuous opera houses; and in spite of their tendency to burn down

Midwestern Composer, Impressario, World-Class Opera

Composer and Michigan Opera Theatre founder, David DiChiera

David DiChiera did not work his way up through the ranks; he created the ranks. He is a composer and visionary who founded two opera companies; bought a derelict theater (and hosted a formal dinner in it), and is helping to rejuvenate the city of Detroit. Mr. DiChiera seems to have a gift for breathing life into big ideas.

“Il trovatore,” An Operatic Thrill Ride

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Combine a searing love triangle, an odious count, a long lost child, some gypsies, a civil war, a haunting, and a witch burned at the stake, and you’ve got Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il trovatore,” an opera stuffed with devices to delight theater-goers and ruin the opera’s protagonists. “Il trovatore” is designed to feel like the fastest two hours and forty-five minutes in theater, with sword fights, shocking cruelty, and tender

Show Boat’s Voyage into the Opera House

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When Lyric Opera of Chicago added the music theater piece Show Boat to its schedule in February of 2012, it seemed like a departure to some, a reconciliation to others. Many felt the gesture was long overdue: opera companies should produce American musicals.

Lyric’s production was soon staged by the Houston Grand Opera and the San Francisco Opera. American director Francesca Zambello

Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)

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Fans are mourning the loss of American composer Stephen Paulus who died on Sunday at the age of 65. Paulus wrote works for many American artists and ensembles, including Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Singers were particularly drawn to his treatment of the human voice, which garnered commissions from Deborah Voigt, Samuel Ramey, Thomas Hampson

Chicago’s Incubator for Opera Singers

Ryan Opera Center bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba as "Don Giovanni"

Richard Ollarsaba, who was the “cover” for Don Giovanni star Mariusz Kwiecien, got the call at 10:00 am: “Mr. Kwiecien will not be able to sing today. You’re on.” He had four hours until curtain.

“The instant I got the call, adrenaline shot through my system, but after the initial shock I immediately went into work mode and the only thing I could tell myself was ‘Just do your job’

Renée Fleming on Her Way to WFMT

Renee Fleming with Impromptu Producer Louise Frank and host Lisa Flynn at WFMT; photo by Noel Morris

Renée Fleming is stopping by WFMT’s studios Tuesday afternoon around 2:30 pm to speak with Lisa Flynn about her new CD, Christmas in New York. With dozens of recordings to her credit, this is her first holiday record. The popular diva used the project as an opportunity to reach across genres to some of her favorite artists. Chris Botti, Kurt Elling

Lyric Opera Opening Night

Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni, Metropolitan Opera

The 60th season at Lyric Opera of Chicago begins on Saturday with a bit of nostalgia: Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the same opera that launched the company 60 years ago.

Lyric Opera’s new production won’t look much like the original, however. It is directed by Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls, who is putting a more modern spin on the classic tale.

Stars of Lyric Opera Shine Over Millennium Park

Millennium Park in downtown Chicago

On Saturday, Lyric Opera of Chicago gives its annual free concert beneath the lattice of the Pritzker Pavilion. Stars of Lyric Opera will showcase several of the season’s productions.

With the Don Giovanni principals already in rehearsal – opening night is September 27 – the stars will make the short commute to Millennium Park to perform the opera’s finale.