Lyric Opera of Chicago

Sound of Music

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Inside the Mind of Director Marc Bruni

Director Marc Bruni gives the inside track on what audiences can expect when they come to see The Sound of Music at Lyric—everything from sets to music and characters promises to create an unparalleled theatrical experience. 

Bruni’s vision for this production embraces the massive scale and resources of the Lyric stage to create unforgettable visuals. From the start, his concept has been “to make sure the Alps are omnipresent so there's a vivid sense of place.” As the first performances draw closer, these concepts are becoming a reality: “Just this week I had meetings with both our set designer Michael Yeargan and costume designer Alejo Vietti, and we are all collaborating on a detailed, specific, and lush production sure to make everyone want to take a trip to Salzburg.” 

Turning from sets to music, Bruni is looking forward to the first rehearsal with cast and full Lyric Opera Orchestra: “I’m very much looking forward to hearing the Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations played with the full, intended size orchestra. Plus with extraordinary voices like Christine Brewer, Elizabeth Futral, Billy Zane, and Jenn Gambatese, I think we are sure to hear an exquisitely sung rendering of the score." 

As part of that score, Bruni plans to include some songs that might not be familiar to those who have only seen The Sound of Music on film. This production incorporates two songs cut from the film, “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way to Stop It,” sung by the characters of Elsa (Elizabeth Futral) and Max (Edward Hibbert). Bruni points out that these songs “delve a little more deeply into the politics of the time.” He was pleased that both were included in the recent NBC live telecast: “I’m glad that audiences got a chance to hear those worthy songs ahead of our production.” 

Fans of the film adaptation also have reason to rejoice, as all of the favorites—including “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Edelweiss,” and the title song—will be sung to perfection by the magnificent cast. Bruni’s staging also includes “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good,” two songs written by Richard Rodgers especially for the film. 

Though The Sound of Music is known for its iconic songs, Bruni hopes to balance the music with the smaller moments that illustrate the vibrant characters: “These are real children with real problems. Maria comes into this dysfunctional home and brings music to it—she fills this void and brings the house to life.” 

Simultaneously with The Sound of Music, Bruni has been hard at work on Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which opened in January on Broadway to critical acclaim. Curiously enough, he has discovered that there are some unique parallels between the legendary singer-songwriter and Maria von Trapp. The story of Beautiful begins in 1959, which is the year The Sound of Music opened on Broadway. “Carole King had a great respect and love for the Broadway music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. She wasn’t trying to rebel from that kind of music but rather she revered it, and her pop music has a similar foundation in classical structure and harmony,” notes Bruni. Bruni also adds that, “Both shows feature a strong female protagonist who needs to get past an initial assumption about herself in order to achieve her true destiny.” 

And finally, what are a few of his favorite things? 

“The moment when everyone in the rehearsal room gets excited about a new idea, the sound of an audience all laughing together, a good Cabernet.” 

The Sound of Music runs April 25 to May 25 at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

How do you solve a problem like Maria...and Liesl? Be sure to watch Dr. Opera's consultation with the stepmother and daughter:

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New Lyric Opera production generously made possible by Exclusive Corporate Sponsor Northern Trust. Cosponsors: An Anonymous Donor, Brent and Catherine Gledhill, Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison, Mrs. Herbert A. Vance and Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance, Mr. and Mrs. W. James Farrell, Jim and Vicki Mills/Jon and Lois Mills, and The Neundorf Trusts in Memory of Maynette V. Neundorf and John K. Neundorf.

Photo by Chris Macke.