Lyric Treats Show Boat like an Opera, Wins

There’s this awkward conversational pas-de-deux that happens between me and musical theater people. We’re all musicians but have very little shared repertoire to talk about. It’s an age-old “high art” versus “low art” rift that forces every work to one side or the other, allowing audiences to self-segregate themselves by the  highness of their brow.... Read more »

Every Opera is a Love Story: Lyric wins with Aida

The architectonic forces of the world drift unwittingly as people get crushed down below. In Verdi’s Aida, those forces are two nations’ armies whose geopolitical maneuverings trap and [spoiler alert] entomb Aida and her lover Radames in a love triangle of doom. Lyric Opera’s current production continues this season’s conservative direction: classic, sure-fire operas done... Read more »

ritornello { preview }

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To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.   – William Blake Caroline Shaw is a composer/violinist/violist/singer from North Carolina. Her piece, ritornello, makes up half of this weekend’s operaSHOP, presented by Opera Cabal. While... Read more »

Elliot Cole: De Rerum (part 1: The Angle)

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More on operaSHOP, taking place Friday and Saturday. A full half of the program belongs to Elliot Cole’s De Rerum, an über-mythological retelling of history, poetry set to a hip hop beat with “Super-Duper Titles” to help you follow along. [Super-Duper Titles, according to Cole, are the words, illustrated and illuminated to help the audience... Read more »

All the world's a rave, we are merely playas

My [online] friends think it’s quizzical that I would try to learn Dutch/Flemish. Nevertheless, I’m trying to make sense of it using what I know from German and English and the random dreams in which I could speak and understand Elvish. So when a Belgian friend posted about Gavin Bryars’ Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me... Read more »

Opera: De/institutionalized

Adored, vilified, mocked and venerated, opera is a many-headed dragon slumbering in a dark cave: everyone knows what it is, but no one wants to touch it. This weekend, Opera Cabal, a locally-grown performance group, endeavors to dispel the myth of opera, bringing light into the cave and breathing some life into the slumbering beast.... Read more »

rvw CSO: World Premiere and Mahler

Most went to the CSO Thursday evening to see Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting Mahler’s 6th and most tragic symphony. I went for the world premiere and stayed for the 80-minute meditation on fate, which ends in blows. Fact: Fate always wins. As fate would have it, James Matheson’s premiere of his violin concerto, commissioned by the... Read more »

Poll: Video Projections at MusicNOW, yea or nay?

MusicNOW on Monday was the most crowded I’ve seen. It raised the bar for some while raising the ire of others. For while it drew a crowd, it also drew criticisms for its use of video projections. The screen was present from before the concert started, showing, like at a movie theater, previews of what’s... Read more »

CSO rvw: How soon is NOW?

Monday night at 7:60 I left the house, feeling open-minded and optimistic, to go to the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW at the Harris Theater. Upon arriving, the house hadn’t yet opened and the throng of people anxiously waiting looked like invasive carp at an electric fence—confused but committed. Finally, in a pique of berserker rage, the... Read more »

rvw: Bewitching 'Magic Flute' at Lyric

Like Shakespeare and Disney, Mozart operas always manage to walk the line between high-brow sophistication and juvenile comedy. The Magic Flute is a prime example. A fairy tale of a plot, the opera imparts wisdom and noble truths while tickling the funny bone of young and old. Summary: feminine irrationality is the darkness into which... Read more »