Stars of Lyric Opera
There’s a scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, after hearing "Canzonetta sull'aria" from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro over the prison’s PA system says, “I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it.” After attending the Stars of Lyric Opera on September 8, 2012, I now understand what he meant.
This eagerly anticipated free concert held each year at Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park was packed with opera lovers and I’d be safe to assume the opera curious; myself falling into the latter category. Conducted by Stephen Lord and lead by chorus master Martin Wright, the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus performed a number of popular acts from Verdi, Wagner, Mascagni and Bizet. The show started with Act One of Verdi’s "La traviata", the story of a shy and inexperienced Alfredo Germont professing his love to Violetta Valéry during a private moment at her party. This was followed by a powerful chorus performance from Act Two of Wagner’s "Tannhäuser". A return to Verdi with Acts from "Don Carlos" and "Nabucco", followed by Mascagni’s "Cavalleria rusticana". The performance was brought to a close by the very recognizable Act Four from Georges Bizet’s Carmen. As a novice I was amazed at how recognizable the orchestra’s performance was. If you've seen a Hamburger Helper commercial or finished a level of Tetris in the last fifteen years, you know what Act Four of Carmen sounds like. But even if you're hearing these pieces for the first time, you can appreciate the skill and beauty at play when the Lyric Opera performs.
This peek into the world of opera has definitely sparked my interest in seeing more. The 2012-2013 season is almost ready to get underway at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Elektra. Other notable performances this coming season include Hanzel & Gretel, Rigoletto, and an opera interpretation of Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Go to http://www.lyricopera.org/ for schedule and tickets.