Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Adventures in Opera at THE FAMILY BARBER

The whole family can learn about opera and have some fun at  The Family Barber on Saturday, March 22. This brand-new presentation is a backstage pass to a wild and wacky rehearsal of Rossini's beloved comedy The Barber of Seville.

The whole family can learn about opera and have some fun at The Family Barber  on Saturday, March 22. This brand-new presentation is a backstage pass to a wild and wacky rehearsal of Rossini's beloved comedy The Barber of Seville.

Featuring the beautiful sets and costumes from Lyric's recent production of The Barber of Seville,  audience members of all ages can enjoy all of the action in English-with projected English titles above the stage! The Family Barber was specially written for children ages 5 to 10. However, slightly younger or older children will still enjoy it! And there will definitely be laughs for parents and grandparents, too.

What's the story?
José Antonio Garcia plays an opera director who is completely out of his league trying to put on The Barber of Seville. His sidekick, Tutti (Alex Goodrich) is desperate to sing and unwittingly helps the director navigate his way through all that goes into staging an opera. The singing cast includes J'nai Bridges as the beautiful heroine Rosina, John Irvin  as the dashing young Count Almaviva, Will Liverman  as the ultimate fixer Figaro, and Philip Kraus as the buffoonish Dr. Bartolo. Bridges, Irvin, and Liverman are all current members of Lyric's own Ryan Opera Center. The Family Barber also features the brilliant Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Don't forget the snacks!! You can buy food in the lobby and bring it right into the theater to enjoy during the show.  

Is this your first time at the opera? Here are some things that you might hear or see!

Listen for:

  • Arias—music sung by one person
  • Duets—music sung by two people either at the same time or taking turns
  • Choruses—a group of voices singing together
  • Different kinds of voices—from very high (soprano) to very low (bass)
  • Different types of instruments in the orchestra—string, brass, woodwind, and percussion

Look for:

  • Actors and singers wearing costumes and disguises
  • Projected English titles—words that appear on a screen above the stage that tell you what the characters are singing
  • The conductor—the person who leads the orchestra

Sometimes at the opera, people wonder when they're supposed to clap. It's time to clap:

  • When the conductor comes out to start the overture
  • After an aria or duet sung by the characters in the opera
  • At the very end of the opera
  • When the singers come out to take their bows
  • When people around you are clapping

Want to learn more about The Family Barber? Read this interview with Cayenne Harris, director of Lyric Unlimited, who gives more behind-the-scenes scoop on the production.

And Lyric's Anthony Freud, Renée Fleming, and Sir Andrew Davis give a quick preview of the show: 

 

Photo credit: Dan Rest / Lyric Opera of Chicago 

The Hills Are Alive with (covers from) THE SOUND OF MUSIC

The Sound of Music is full of some of the most beloved songs in all of musical theater, including many that have become standards in their own right. Here are just a handful of our favorite interpretations of these classics. 

Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music is full of some of the most beloved songs in all of musical theater. Many of them have become standards in their own right, appearing in TV shows, movies, and commercials for decades. Here are just a handful of our favorite interpretations of these classic songs.

"Do-Re-Mi"

Crooners Eddie Fisher, Andy Williams, and Bobby Darin give "Do-Re-Mi" a swingin' sixties vibe in this clip from The Andy Williams Show from January 1966. Bobby Darin even breaks into a few bars of "Oklahoma!"

 

This song also lends itself to a large group performance, as evidenced in this great flash mob from the central train station in Antwerp, Belgium from 2009. And yes, it was all a promotion for a Belgian TV station!

 

"Edelweiss"

The von Trapps, a singing group made up of the great-grandchildren of the original von Trapp Family Singers, are rising stars in the music world. They recently teamed up with Pink Martini on a new album, Dream a Little Dream, which includes covers of "The Lonely Goatherd" and "Edelweiss." Here is the talented quartet—Sofia, Melanie, Amanda, and August von Trapp—singing a beautiful a capella version of "Edelweiss."

 

"My Favorite Things"

The legendary saxophonist John Coltrane took "My Favorite Things" as inspiration for what is one of the greatest jazz recordings in history. Here is his take on the song, which gave his groundbreaking 1961 album its title. Also on this record? Coltrane's take on "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess.

 

Because of its winter-themed lyrics, My Favorite Things has also become a popular holiday song-covered by everyone from Diana Ross and the Supremes to Kelly Clarkson for holiday albums. Here are Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in a live performance of their remake from their 1968 Christmas album:

 

"I Have Confidence"

One of the songs written specifically by Richard Rodgers for the film version of The Sound of Music, "I Have Confidence" has become a welcome addition to the musical—and it will be performed as part of Lyric's production starting on April 25. Here is the brilliant Audra McDonald performing the song live:

 

"Climb Ev'ry Mountain"

It takes a gigantic voice like that of Christine Brewer, who will be portraying the Mother Abbess in Lyric's production, to do this wonderful song justice. But Welsh songstress Shirley Bassey lends it a touch of Vegas with this interpretation:

 

"The Lonely Goatherd"

Julie Andrews hosted The Muppet Show in its second season and, fitting for a show built around puppets, performed "The Lonely Goatherd" with the wacky menagerie:

 

"Sixteen Going on Seventeen"

Dame Judi Dench performs with Brendan O'Hea at the Richard Rodgers Centenary Concert in 2002, giving a hilarious take on a song usually performed by two teenagers in love:

 

Hear all of these great songs—plus many, many more!—when you see Lyric's new production The Sound of Music starting on April 25! 

Sound_of_Music

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

“Clemenza” Stars Offstage

Matthew Polenzani, Joyce DiDonato, and Amanda Majeski are currently heating up the stage in Lyric's new-to-Chicago production of Mozart's  La Clemenza di Tito. In addition to their electric performances, they've been a busy trio off stage as well!

Matthew Polenzani, Joyce DiDonato, and Amanda Majeski are currently creating sparks on stage in Lyric's new production of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. In its review of the production, the Chicago Tribune praised all three for delivering "one terrific vocal showpiece after another." In addition to creating magic on stage, they've been a busy trio offstage as well.  

North shore native Matthew Polenzani took a trip down memory lane with Chicago Tonight's Eddie Arruza, talking about growing up in the Chicago suburbs and the beginnings of his operatic career, capped with a performance of Tito's aria "Ah, se fosse intorno al trono" from Act One of La Clemenza di Tito with Bill Billingham: 

 

He stayed after the segment to perform “Danny Boy” for this web extra:

 

Joyce DiDonato grabbed a drink with Chicago Magazine's Graham Meyer during the February 22 opening of Lyric's new production of Rusalka and chatted about her recent trip to Africa and the things she loves most about Chicago.

She also took time to visit with Lyric's new Youth Opera Council, tweeting after her experience: "Opera is dead?!?! HA! Take THAT naysayers! Totally inspired by these young, TALENTED opera lovers from @LyricOpera."

And DiDonato was very busy on March 12, giving a live performance on Chicago classical music station 98.7 WFMT as part of their Impromptu series and then going to Northwestern University's Pick-Staiger Concert Hall for a master class that was also broadcast live around the web!  

Amanda Majeski talked with the Daily Herald's Jamie Sotonoff and Dann Gire about being rejected from her first high school audition and how much this Ryan Opera Center alumna enjoys making Chicago her home base. 

Plus, she hit a personal milestone as she and her husband Sam Handley celebrated their first wedding anniversary on March 9. They met while members of Lyric's own Ryan Opera Center! You can read more about their love story, along with a few other Lyric couples, in this Chicago Sun-Times story from last year

Photo credits:
(top) Amanda Majeski credit Dario Acosta, Matthew Polenzani credit Dario Acosta, Joyce DiDonato credit Nick Heavican.
(center) Joyce DiDonato with the Youth Opera Council credit Andrew Cioffi / Lyric Opera of Chicago.
(bottom) Amanda Majeski and Sam Handley backstage at Lyric. Photo credit Rich Hein / Chicago Sun-Times.

A Day in the Life of Lyric Opera Chorister Pam Williams

Lyric Opera Chorus member Pam Williams describes a typical day for her, which includes rehearsal, tax preparation, and a performance of Rusalka.

Pam Williams has lived in Chicago since 1997 and been a member of the Lyric Opera Chorus since 1999. She is originally from Snellville, Georgia (just east of Atlanta). She did her undergraduate work at Georgia State University and then went to Indiana University for her master's degree. Pam takes us through her schedule on Friday, March 7, a typical day in the life of a working musician!

I love my job! I love that I get to do for a living what I set out to do when I began my studies in music. SING!!! Granted, my path hasn't always been focused on opera, but always on singing.  But this is where my path has led me...right here to the chorus of Lyric Opera of Chicago. And it makes me happy, and I feel quite fortunate!

Each one of the members of the chorus has wildly varying lives within and without the walls of this building. Many teach voice in addition to singing here. Others have other jobs outside of Lyric. But for me, at this phase of life, I have this one job. This doesn't mean this is ALL I do and the rest of the time I sit at home watching Judge Judy eating bon-bons. :)

Here is my today: I started the day out warming up for a coaching on The Old Maid and the Thief that I'll be performing in as part of Opera Up Close concert series at Governors State University at the end of the month. I'm playing Miss Todd. Love it. She's nuts. Now, I'm catching up on some work (tax prep...late!), emails, more music study, recital planning, etc. Later on, I'll be meeting up with some awesome and fun colleagues for a promo video shoot for this upcoming GSU concert. Should be hilarious!  Follow this with a performance of our stunning production of Rusalka  this evening. It will be a day full of music and music-related things! Then…I sleep. :) Tomorrow...a completely different day, but more practicing and another show—La Clemenza di Tito!

One of the fun things about this job in the chorus is the variety. It definitely makes it more interesting to have a couple of shows going at the same time. Early in this season, we were very busy with three different shows on stage at the same time while rehearsing a fourth! A question I am often asked is: Do you forget which show you are singing when juggling multiple shows? Nope. Once in the proper costume and on the proper set, the right words and music seem to know where they belong!

Photo credit: Pam Williams backstage at Lyric in costume for Rusalka. Photo courtesy Pam Williams. 

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