Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Magic Flute

Last night David and I braved icy temperatures to attend Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at Lyric Opera. It was quite an evening.

I hadn't seen the opera in a number of years. I think the last performance was at the Met with sets and costumes by Marc Chagall.

This was very different scenically. Dale Ferguson, the set and costume designer, decided to place the opera
in and around a house in the suburbs, say Oak Park, in contemporary times. A complete two story house filled center stage and revolved completely around as the opera advanced. It was an amazing set but I never quite got the reason for it. A young man, (non singer), supposedly got the idea to put on a show, a la Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, in his back yard. Neighbors gathered, bringing all sorts of chairs, to hear it during the overture. They were in modern dress. Then fully costumed singers and actors appeared from various directions to do the opera.

Once one accepted the premise, the singing was sensational.

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Tamino was sung beautifully by Andrew Staples, whose voice reminds me a bit of Fritz Wunderlich, light, high and very easy.

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Papageno was Adam Plachetka and he was simply wonderful. Great voice and a marvelous actor.

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Pamina was sung by Christiane Karg. She has a good voice but I would prefer a more limpid sound from Pamina.

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The Queen of the Night was sung by Kathryn Lewek. She is one of the best singers of this role I have ever heard. A sizeable voice with a very secure top. All of her high f's were perfectly in line with the rest of the voice.

The three ladies were Ann Toomey, Annie Rosen, and Lauren Decker. They sang very well and were good actors as well.

The Monostatos was Rodell Rosel and sang with a snarly voice that is perfect for this character.

Sarastro was Christof Fischesser. He had a resonant voice with the appropriate low notes. Between him and the Queen of the night they covered an enormous vocal range.

The conductor was Rory Macdonald and the stage director was Neil Armfield.  They kept the music and action moving at a fast pace making for a very enjoyable evening of musical theater.

I never did get the reason for the set but it worked out well in the end.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Shakespeare and Costello

Last night David and I saw The Complete Deaths at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. It was put together by Tim Crouch. It is a work from the British group 'Spymonkey' which seems to be trying to resusitate Monty Python.

It doesn't quite work.

A woman sits at one side of the stage, apparently working a crossword puzzle, and as each of 76 characters from the Bard's plays bites the dust (in very quick succession), pushes a button which reduces the number of deaths on an electric board over her head.

The performers have to try too hard to get laughs out of deaths. They are Attor Basauri, Petra Massey, Toby Park, and Stephan Kreuss.

Shakespeare meets Abbott and Costello doesn't quite work.