Talk about 'full-throated singing!' Tonight the Chicago Lyric Opera put on a tour de force' production of Verdi's Il Trovatore. And I do mean FORCE.
The entire cast had vocal pipes that could be heard in Kankakee. There were some excellent voices with some problems in several cases.
The best is my opinion was Yonghoon Lee, tenor, as Manrico. This is a superb voice which was beautifully used. He sings with great flexibility and incredible shading but can still deliver the dramatic high note in spades whenever needed. This is a tenor to watch.
Amber Wagner as Leonora has a rich Dramatico Spinto voice of large proportions. Her acting leaves something to be desired. At times she just didn't seem to know what to do. Several of her high notes were pushed beyond the point of any return to say nothing of beyond the point of beauty. She wisely left out a couple of climactic high notes that I have heard other sopranos take and to which I was looking forward. One high note could almost be called a scream.
I was expecting more from Stephanie Blythe as Azucena than I heard. Not more volume. I heard her just fine. Hers was the largest and loudest voice on the stage but she just didn't seem warmed up enough for 'Stride la vampa' early on. Much of the high work was flat. Later on she seemed to get into gear and produce some better singing but I thought she was disappointing at the end of the opera when she tells Count di Luna that he has just killed his brother. The ending lost drama in the way it was staged.
Quinn Kelsey as the Count di Luna sang very well throughout and was able to match the other voices in the ensemble numbers; the last act trio, for instance.
Andrea Silvestrelli has a very impressive bass voice which sometimes sounds as if the voice had him rather than he having the voice.
J'Nai Bridges sang well in the role of Inez with a fine sounding mezzo voice.
All in all it was an exciting evening. Of course with this opera it's hard not to have an exciting evening, but Chicago Lyric put on a good production with an imaginative set and good lighting.
And then, of course, there was the 'Anvil Chorus' with several hunky choristers beating on anvils. Not too bad!