Tag Archives: lyric opera

The story behind Bellini’s “Norma”

  On one occasion when Maria Callas was asked which was her favorite operatic role, she said she had two — Violetta, from Verdi’s “La traviata” and the title role from Bellini’s “Norma.” When you think about it, it is hard to imagine two more dramatically and psychologically different characters — the emotionally vulnerable and sickly Violetta, forced to be what she is by the callous “man’s world” that is Paris, and Norma, the super-powerful Druid priestess, who can decide peace or war for her people, and life or death for her subordinate priestesses. It is indicative of the soprano’s …

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The story behind “Lucia di Lammermoor”

  Ever since its première at the Teatro San Carlo on Sept. 26, 1835, “Lucia di Lammermoor” has held a firm position in the standard opera repertoire. For one thing, it’s Gaetano Donizetti’s greatest musical masterpiece, chock full of brilliant pieces from beginning to end, all brightly colored by the composer’s creative orchestration. For another, the text was very cleverly adapted by Salvatore Cammarano, whom Verdi declared to be the best librettist in Italy, from the 1819 novel, “The Bride of Lammermoor” by Sir Walter Scott, himself no slouch when it came to spinning a tale or turning a phrase. …

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Chorus shines in Lyric’s “Nabucco”

The real star of “Nabucco” is the chorus, and conductor Carlo Rizzi clearly understands this, as he gave the celebrated body their head. And under the direction of Chorus Master Michael Black, they sang more exuberantly than ever, thrilling the jam-packed Civic Opera house audience that braved single-digit temperatures to see the opera that launched Verdi’s career as the King of Italian Opera. Again and again, the chorus, if Hebrews, Babylonians or whatever, made the very most of each choral number. And they were consistently excellent whether singing distinctly as a chorus, like the famous Act III, scene ii “Va, …

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Lyric delivers rousing rendition of “Cinderella”

  Going back many years, it is hard to remember a Lyric Opera production that fired on all cylinders so marvelously as on the October 23rd performance of “Cinderella.” (No doubt for marketing purposes Lyric calls Rossini’s comic opera “Cinderella” instead of its original, commonly known title, “La cenerentola.”) During the time I have been reporting on the many productions of operas at Lyric, I have never shied away from pointing out (and occasionally discussing “ad nauseum”) various weaknesses in the musical or dramatic presentations, but in this “Cinderella” I was extremely pleased to find only hearty strengths in every …

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Lyric delivers stellar “Figaro”

  In nearly 30 years of reviewing opera for this and other columns, never have I been so carried away by the euphoria of experiencing this great art being professionally performed. But the other night, Aass I listened to Mozart’s brilliant overture, played by a group of first-class musicians, I was struck by how lucky we are to have the Chicago Lyric Opera to go to for performances of opera at the highest artistic level. Oh, sure, there’s room for criticism — mainly that Mozart scored the roles of Figaro and the Count for basses, and the Lyric used baritones, …

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“La Cenerentola” at the Lyric

  “From rags to riches” has been an extremely common literary theme since literacy began. One of its most popular variations is the “Cinderella” story, which itself has spawned oodles of variations. I myself created one such variation, a one-act musical play for my mostly African-American high school students with a pro football twist back in the ’70s. By far the best-known Cinderella tale is that of the Brothers Grimm, with the mean stepmother, two nasty stepsisters and a Fairy Godmother. In Rossini’s opera of 1817 (libretto by Jacopo Feretti) the stepmother is replaced by Don Magnifico, a stepfather, and …

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Lyric’s “Tosca” showcases stellar new tenor

  What a wonderful day of music at Lyric Opera for its production of “Tosca” on March 8 at the Civic Opera House! It was such a gas because I went fully expecting to be satisfied with the afternoon’s performance by the singing of who I think is the best baritone in the world — and that was plenty. I got that all right, but there was something more — something I was totally unprepared for. A tenor. Not just a professional singer with a decent voice, mind you, but a singer with an outstanding, powerful sound — especially in …

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Operatic financial advisor Frank De Vincentis

By day, Frank De Vincentis works as a financial advisor. But De Vincentis also has a hobby — and a passion — he hopes to share with others through charity: opera singing. De Vincentis credits his High School best friend for his love for opera and introducing him to the Golden Age of singing. De Vincentis recalls performing from a young age in musical theatre and was later introduced to his best friend’s father and vocal coach: Carl Lawrenz. “I owe a lot of my love of classical musical to Carl.” states De Vincentis, who graduated from DePaul University in …

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