Monday, March 13, 2017

Most Happy!

Last night Peggy, Jim,David and I saw a delightful production of The Most Happy Fella at the No Exit Cafe in Rogers Park on the far north side of the city. Fella is a wonderful musical by Frank Loesser based on the book They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard. I saw the original production on Broadway in 1953 with Robert Weede of the Met singing the title role.

Tonight's Tony was no Robert Weede but the rest of the cast were fine singers and produced a really good show. William Roberts was Tony and while possessed of a fairly good bass-baritone voice tended to push at the top.

Molly Hernandez was  a very young Rosabella. Pretty voice and a good actress. She is a sophomore at Loyola University.

Ken Singleton was Joe and sang with a fine tenor voice and was good looking enough for us to see why Rosabella would fall in love with him at once instead of the middle aged Tony.

Courtney Jones was Cleo and practically stole the show in her opening number about 'sore feet' as well as in 'Big D'. A real winner!

The rest of the cast had remarkable good voices and the mens' ensembles were especially good. 'Standin' on the Corner' and 'Abondanza'.

The Cafe is a fairly small room and the evening included dinner, which was passable. The  music director was Jeremy Ramey and was exceptional. He played the piano with fury and tried to keep the three string players together. When we arrived early for dinner he appeared to be teaching the show to the violinist who never did quite play in tune, especially in third position.

It was a fun evening.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eugene Onegin

Last night David and I saw Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at Chicago Lyric Opera. It was a treat to hear this gorgeous score once more.

Again, Chicago Lyric is spending its bucks on singers instead of scenery, which is alright with me. 

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Mariusz Kwiecien sang the title role with an excellent baritone voice. He has sung this role at the Met and internationally. 

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Ana Maria Martinez was Tatiana. Before the opera began someone came on stage to announce that Ms. Martinez was singing with a cold and asked the audience's indulgence. No need. She sang beautifully. 

It reminded me of a performance of Aida I heard in Vienna some years ago when the stage manager came out and announced that Ms. Price (Leontyne) would be replaced by someone, and Mr. 'whoever the tenor was' also would not sing, ending with 'Fiorenza Cossotto was ill- but would sing anyway'. Of course she tore the house down, as did Ms. Martinez.

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Lensky was wonderfully sung by Charles Castronovo. This is an amazing tenor voice.

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Equally fine was the Prince Gremin of Dmitri Belosselskiy. A rich sonorous voice in his one aria in the final act.

The rest of the cast sang beautifully. Chicago seems to know how to pick 'em!

Again the limitations of the Lyric stage were obvious. Basically one set, three walls which changed with the lighting, very little stage furnishings, a floor covered with leaves for the first half of the opera- that was it. Lots of chairs encircling the stage for two acts???

 Lyric's huge chorus sang wonderfully but often seemed stuffed onto the stage. Alejo Perez conducted this wonderful music.

I think I heard my dear, late mentor Olga Averino sing Tatiana's wonderful 'letter scene' at some time or other. Olga's Godfather was Modest Tchaikovsky, brother of Peter. A beautiful connection to have when hearing this opera.