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October 2014
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Opera

“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.

Passings: Licia Albanese, Carlo Bergonzi

Licia Albanese as Cio-Cio-San in "Madama Butterfly"

He gave more than 300 performances at the Metropolitan Opera. She exceeded 400. Two Italian-born, 20th century opera stars passed away in recent weeks: tenor Carlo Bergonzi and soprano Licia Albanese. Bergonzi in particular had a long performance history in Chicago, making his American debut at Lyric Opera in 1955; while Albanese worked primarily in New York

Lyric’s New Opera (Just a Peek)

Lyric Opera Music Director, Sir Andrew Davis, c. Todd Rosenberg

Getting beyond “The book was better” – Last week, when Lyric Opera presented a sneak peek at the opera based on Ann Patchett’s bestselling novel “Bel Canto,” general director Anthony Freud quickly closed the door on comparisons to the book.

Addressing a gathering of patrons and members of the media, Mr. Freud shared some of

Ryan Opera Center Sings Puccini, Bizet (video)

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Lyric Opera of Chicago dispatched two of its rising stars to join a worldwide chorus of music-lovers celebrating music on June 21.

June 21 is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year – and for the past 4 years, a day of music in Chicago. Locally the festival is known as Make Music Chicago, though the summer solstice tradition of taking instruments to the streets started in Paris as the Fête de la Musique