Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Lately

THE PASSENGER is “virtually flawless” and “profoundly moving”

The Midwest premiere of Weinberg's The Passenger is onstage at Lyric through March 15. The Chicago Tribune gives this production a perfect four stars and deems it "an experience in the theater that is not to be missed." Read more critical praise for this haunting and powerful opera.

 

The Midwest premiere of Weinberg's The Passenger  is onstage at Lyric through March 15. The Chicago Tribune  gives this production a perfect four stars and deems it "an experience in the theater that is not to be missed." Here is more critical praise for this haunting and powerful opera.

"A virtually flawless performance and [David] Pountney's definitive production justify the decision of Lyric general director Anthony Freud to bring 'The Passenger' to Chicago….If this is a harbinger of fresh directions at Freud's Lyric Opera, then bring them on, I say." - Chicago Tribune

"With a faultless large cast and striking and imaginative production, one can't imagine Weinberg's dark yet hopeful opera receiving stronger advocacy." - Chicago Classical Review

The Passenger is "a compelling opera that manages the nearly impossible task of shedding meaningful light on the horror of Auschwitz." - Chicago Sun-Times

"Pountney's staging sweeps us from present to past with the fluidity of film, using an ingenious unit set the late designer Johan Engels based on Medvedev's original concept." - Chicago Tribune

The Passenger "stunningly powerful" and a "tasteful testimony to the courage and heroism of the human spirit." - Chicago Critic

"stunning" -  Chicago on the Aisle

Sir Andrew Davis and the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus 

Sir Andrew Davis "conducted with searing authority" - Chicago on the Aisle

"Davis harnesses the power and sensitivity of his instrumental forces to undergird the emotional trajectory of the work." - Chicago Tribune

"The crisp rhythmic definition and propulsive energy Davis brings to Weinberg's sometimes spiky, sometimes nostalgically jazzy orchestra reminds us he is as much a master of 20th century music as he is of Mozart and Strauss. He secures admirable work from the orchestra and the Michael Black-trained chorus, at the top of their game at the end of a demanding 60th anniversary season." - Chicago Tribune

"The level of scrupulous preparation was manifest in every bar, with Davis's acute balancing bringing out every quirky detail of the score from the haunting celesta tones to the sardonic xylophone writing." - Chicago Classical Review

The impressive cast 

"Lyric has assembled an impressive array of singers who managed to make every Auschwitz inmate and prison guard a vivid, individual character."  - Chicago Sun-Times

 "Amanda Majeski is already on a fast track to a major career, but as Marta, the former Ryan Opera Center member delivered a shattering, star-making performance. " - Chicago Classical Review

 "Her ringing soprano glistened like Waterford crystal, combining transparent fragility with soulful strength." - Chicago Sun-Times

Amanda Majeski's "singing is pure, shining and true.  She has done nothing finer at the company that launched her international career." - Chicago Tribune

"Mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, who last season sang Kundry in Wagner's Parsifal, is riveting as the panicked woman Liese" - Chicago on the Aisle

Karanas  "delivered a superbly rounded performance, singing with a big tone and proved credible as both the frightened wife and scarily sadistic Auschwitz guard." - Chicago Classical Review

"The soft edges of Karanas's rich mezzo-soprano conveyed Liese's terror, but her tone became appropriately commanding in her scenes as a manipulative SS guard. " - Chicago Sun-Times

"With his powerful heldentenor Brandon Jovanovich brought daunting vocal strength to the somewhat thankless role of Walter, Liese's diplomat husband." - Chicago Classical Review

"A fine singer with real acting chops, Jovanovich is convincing as a mostly good guy, with a propped-up image of himself that he is keen to defend." - Chicago on the Aisle

 "As Tadeusz, Marta's fiancé, Joshua Hopkins used his rich baritone to create a calm, moral center amid the madness of Auschwitz." -Chicago Sun-Times

"Notable among Marta's richly individualized community of barrack companions are soprano Kelly Kaduce as the tough-minded Russian freedom fighter Katya, who can't quite remember all the words to the old folk song her grandmother used to sing; dramatic soprano Nina Warren as a crazed older woman who's the only survivor from her group of arrivals, and mezzo-soprano Liuba Sokolova as determinedly faithful Bronka, who lights candles to God and insists He will not forget even the ones who have given themselves up utterly to the idea that they are forsaken." - Chicago on the Aisle

Photo credits:

  • The Passenger at Lyric Opera of Chicago production photos credit Michael Brosilow and Robert Kusel

The reviews are in: TANNHÄUSER is “sexy and striking” with “powerhouse voices”

Wagner's Tannhäuser is a bucket-list opera, full of some of the composer's most dramatic and moving music, from the opening overture to the Pilgrim's Chorus. This opera has not been seen at Lyric since the 1988-89 season, and critics are calling this epic production (on stage through March 6) a must-see event.

Wagner's Tannhäuser is a bucket-list opera, full of some of the composer's most dramatic and moving music, from the opening overture to the Pilgrim's Chorus. This opera has not been seen at Lyric since the 1988-89 season, and critics are calling this epic production (on stage through March 6) a must-see event.

Chicago on the Aisle  gave it four (out of five stars), calling it "potent, sensual and yet strikingly unromanticized production." The Chicago Tribune  says that "the musical performance is glorious." The Chicago Sun-Times says this production "conveys the opera's compelling drama and transcendent vocal beauty."

Chicago Splash  simply says, "Lyric's current production is about as strong a case as you're ever going to hear for [Tannhäuser], a reminder of Wagner's ability to provide us with the same delights his title character experiences in his hedonistic paradise. Too bad we have to return to the real world."

Sir Andrew Davis and the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus 

"[Tannhäuser's] true hero way well be music director Andrew Davis, drawing floods of sumptuous sound and deep-piled lyricism from the admirable Lyric Opera Orchestra. The no less demanding choral writing found Michael Black's finely disciplined chorus singing its collective heart out." - Chicago Tribune

" Lyric music director Andrew Davis conducts Tannhäuser for the first time with the dramatic conviction, musical assurance and fluent lyricism of one whose knows his Wagner inside out. The Lyric Opera Orchestra delivers at a very high level, indeed." - Chicago on the Aisle

"Longtime Lyric music director Andrew Davis, who is conducting Tannhäuser for the first time, adroitly shapes the complex, unfolding drama, paying due attention to the all-important balances in this opera and highlighting its many intimate musical moments." - Chicago Sun-Times

The Glorious Cast 

"Johan Botha offered his finest Lyric performance to date" - Chicago Classical Review

"Botha is today's definitive Tannhäuser, and he has the vocal heft, lung power and stamina to make it through to the end of a very long opera without a hint of strain." - Chicago Tribune

"Tannhäuser is one of the most difficult Wagner roles to sing, yet Johan Botha is a revelation in the role" - Chicago Splash

"The vocal pillar of this production is soprano Amber Wagner, with her commanding stage presence and forceful, affecting voice." - Chicago Sun-Times

"With her impressive performance as Elisabeth, Amber Wagner showed that she is coming into her own as a complete, major artist." - Chicago Classical Review

"A Ryan Opera Center breakout star, [Amber Wagner] produced a gleaming, ample and effortless sound that also was warm and womanly when it needed to be" - Chicago Tribune

"Gerald Finley…possesses a wonderfully expressive bass-baritone voice with surprising lightness and grace" - Chicago Sun-Times

Gerald Finley's "Wolfram was a masterful work of dramatic singing" - Chicago Classical Review

"As Wolfram, Gerald Finley threatened to run away with the show. His vocal strength was complimented by a dramatic sense that shaded the facets of the character hopelessly in love with Elisabeth, a moral paragon whose goodness is essentially unrewarded." - Chicago Splash 

Michaela Schuster "swathed in a slinky, sequined black gown, threw herself into this ungrateful role with riveting intensity and panache" - Chicago Tribune

 "John Relyea anchored the ensemble at the low end with his sonorous bass" - Chicago Classical Review

The Sensual Opening Dance 

"a sexy and striking coup de theatre" - Chicago Tribune

"A high point of the production is the beginning bacchanal, which features a swirling, electrifying dance, smartly choreographed by Jasmin Vardimon." - Chicago Sun-Times

"Vardimon perfectly captures an all-consuming love in her erotic spectacle." - The Fourth Walsh

 

Photo credits

  • Tannhäuser production photos credit Robert Kusel and Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

See why TOSCA is “as pitch perfect as opera gets”

Lyric's Diamond Anniversary season continues with another acclaimed production; this time, critics are loving the new-to-Chicago production of Puccini's Tosca. It's on stage at Lyric until March 14. If you're not convinced yet, here are just a few reasons to see this dramatic, passionate blockbuster.

Lyric's Diamond Anniversary season continues with another acclaimed production; this time, critics are loving the new-to-Chicago production of Puccini's Tosca. It's on stage at Lyric until March 14. If you're not convinced yet, here are just a few reasons to see this dramatic, passionate blockbuster.

"Highly Recommended" - Chicago Sun-Times 

"…a mesmerizing night of music theater imaginatively staged, perceptively conducted and gloriously sung." - Chicago on the Aisle

"this Tosca is as pitch perfect as opera gets" - Le Bon Travel and Culture 

"…this production, staged by John Caird with sets and costumes by Bunny Christie, offers something more: a fresh approach to staging as evocative as the singing." - Chicago Sun-Times 

The Glorious Music

"Let me end by praising one of the great performances of the night: the orchestra's. Under Dmitri Jurowski's baton, this night saw the Lyric's house band find again and again an exquisite late 19th century sound, the winds and brass speaking gorgeously from within beds of strings." - Bachtrack 

" the Lyric's production features Puccini's glorious musical score that soars under the Lyric's exceptional orchestra led by Dmitri Jurowski in his Lyric debut. " - Le Bon Travel and Culture 

"Jurowski consistently and fetchingly underscores the opera's emotional surge, with deft shifts into sweet comedy and arching lyricism. Both the Lyric Opera Chorus, in the grand Te Deum that crowns Act I, and the Orchestra distinguish themselves with performances that bloom and soar." - Chicago on the Aisle  

The Electrifying Cast

Tatiana Serjan and Brian Jagde are "an inspired pairing: two wonderful acting singers with the extraordinary voices that make for opera legend." - Chicago Reader 

"Tatiana Serjan commanded the stage, tracing the arc of Tosca's journey from capricious, jealous diva to a woman driven to desperate action in a frantic effort to save the life of her lover." - Chicago on the Aisle 

"the Russian soprano showed she truly is the complete package as a singer and actress, with her Tosca as affecting and vulnerable as her Lady Macbeth was chilling and evil." - Chicago Classical Review 

"One could go a lifetime and not hear a finer “Vissi d’arte” in the theater than the one Serjan delivered Saturday night." - Chicago Classical Review 

"Making his Lyric debut, the American tenor [Brian Jagde] declares his love for Tosca in his opening aria, unleashing his supple, warm-toned tenor in a passionate outpouring that set the audience cheering." - Chicago Sun-Times 

 

Photo credits:

  • Tosca production photos credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

The critics are raving: ANNA BOLENA “burns with white-hot intensity”

With the new production of  Anna Bolena, Lyric is now "five-for-five" in its 2014-15 season, says the Chicago Sun-Times. Donizetti's bel canto gem is onstage until January 16; the critics are praising the potent, dramatic story that offers plenty for audiences to cheer from vocal fireworks to the compelling staging.

With the new production of Anna Bolena, Lyric is now "five for five" in its 2014-15 season, says the Chicago Sun-Times. Donizetti's bel canto gem is onstage until January 16, and the critics are praising the potent, dramatic story that offers plenty for audiences to cheer from vocal fireworks to the compelling staging.

"Highly recommended" - Chicago Sun-Times

"Anna Bolena frequently burns with white hot intensity" - Chicago Sun-Times 

 "It's a thrilling new production featuring a strong, young, well-integrated all-American cast and a focused and effective pit debut by conductor Patrick Summers." - Chicago Sun-Times

The "Lyric audience [was] on its feet and cheering for five minutes after the final curtain…" - Chicago Sun-Times

"Director Kevin Newbury and set designer Neil Patel have a take on this tragic history opera that makes most of it as engrossing as a contemporary thriller, though it was written in 1830." - Chicago Reader

"Bel canto done right" - KDHX

"Stunning production" … "a major triumph" - Chicago Critic

"If you have not witnessed a bel canto opera - then this is the one to experience." - Chicago Critic

A Sumptuous Musical Feast with a Star-Studded Cast

Sondra Radvanovsky triumphs as Anne Boleyn

"It's all there - coloratura runs, the rapid dynamic and emotional changes required by the score and a confident but giving performance…" - Chicago Sun-Times

"Her high notes blazing, the Berwyn-born soprano tore into the long and diabolically difficult title role…" - Chicago Tribune

"Expertly sung and superbly acted, her Anna moves easily through the wide dynamic and emotional range of this role. Like Callas, Ms. Radvanovsky is not afraid to sacrifice a little technical purity here and there if it enhances the drama." - KDHX

"The visceral quality of Radvanovsky's vocally compelling and dramatically affecting performance was just the ticket to send sparks flying in the coloratura stratosphere." - Chicago Tribune

"Radvanovsky deployed her big, dark, vibrant sound, with its precise coloratura and close attention to text, to potent effect." - Chicago Tribune

Radvanovsky provided "exciting high notes and theatrical frisson" - Chicago Classical Review

Sondra Radvanovsky and Jamie Barton face off as Boleyn and rival Jane Seymour

"The early Act Two duet - or duel? - … is one of those moments you wondered if you'd ever see again: two singers so matched in age and style turning up the heat, feeding off of each other and the orchestra, and yet doing so at the service of the story and not for a mere divas' cat fight." - Chicago Sun-Times

"Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton is creamy-voiced and appealing as the sorry-but-seduced Jane Seymour; her tell-all duet with Radvanovsky in the opening scene of the second act is a musical and dramatic highlight." - Chicago Reader

"With two sensational roles for women, you almost want to call 'Anna Bolena' 'Anne and Jane,' with Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, singing epic duets with second wife Anne Boleyn. That's not a knock against the wonderful work of soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, who tears into the massive role of Anna with gusto (her mad scenes at the end are frightening). Rather, it's to acknowledge that Jamie Barton as Jane, a tricky role to act in Donizetti's version of the story, also delivers a big, passionate performance." - Crain's Chicago Business

"The role of the guilt-ridden Jane Seymour offered Barton a splendid opportunity to display her plush, voluminous voice and dulcet bel canto phrasing." - Chicago Tribune

Bryan Hymel makes an impressive Lyric debut

Bryan Hymel "delivered the goods" as Percy - Chicago Sun-Times

"Hymel's voice stood revealed as a tenor of impressively heroic strength, sweetness and style, easily inhabiting the high tessitura." - Chicago Tribune

"In his company debut, Hymel displayed a gleaming tenor, throwing off clarion high C's and bringing firm dramatic conviction to his confrontation with Henry." - Chicago Classical Review

John Relyea smolders as Henry VIII

"Bass John Relyea is smoldering, brutal and appropriately full of himself as a dashing Henry, showing off power in many dimensions." - Chicago Sun-Times

"Bass John Relyea used his truly menacing, black-toned basso to dominate his scenes as the cruel and arrogant Henry." - Chicago Tribune

"Vocally Relyea was first class, his bass richer and even more commanding than previously.." - Chicago Classical Review

The Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus shine

Debuting conductor Patrick Summers "led a pliant and stylish account of the score." - Chicago Tribune

"The chorus, prepared by Michael Black, added yet another success to its many accomplishments in this extremely busy opera season." - Chicago Tribune

History Comes Alive 

"Designers Neil Patel (sets and properties) and Jessica Jahn (costumes) have created work both sumptuous and undistracting, giving context for the story while allowing it to unfold before us in human terms first" - Chicago Sun-Times

"The courtly intrigues and suspicions that send Anne to the scaffold are symbolized by a large, ever-present chorus of eavesdroppers and spies, arrayed beneath a huge, coffered ceiling. …The design scheme mixes period realism and modern abstraction, while Jahn's costumes adhere to Tudor fashion: dark leather doublets and jerkins, bejeweled crowns, flared sleeves, an ermine mantle for the king." - Chicago Tribune

"The visuals are a knock out. Patel's sleek sets make use of color and a few period elements to suggest an entire environment or dynamic: a coffered ceiling turns the bare stage into a palace, for example, and the royal throne, on a revolving pedestal, is backed by the royal bed." - Chicago Reader

"The set, with massive pieces that descend out of the golden ceiling, adds its own dimension to the drama, suggesting how these characters can easily be crushed under the power of the king (that idea is cashed in memorably in the opera's final moments)." - Crain's Chicago Business

"Neil Patel's set contributes substantially to that with its imposing Tudor ceiling from which walls and set pieces descend for the scene changes. The illusion of massive weight is convincing and reminds us of how these characters are, in some ways, imprisoned in the splendor of their surroundings." - KDHX

Photo credits

  • Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago production photos credit Todd Rosenberg and Robert Kusel

 

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