**** Recommended When I first saw and heard “Jenufa” at Lyric Opera two decades ago, it was a revelation. Even for one enamored of dramatic tragedies, this one felt different: As heartbreaking as it was to experience, the denouement -- with its unexpected sense of peace, reconciliation and profound forgiveness on the part of thrice-wronged Jenufa -- made the musical journey feel worthwhile; I felt “emotionally purified,” in the words of this production’s conductor, Jakub Hrusa, the ending a richly satisfying though terribly sad outcome to “this terrible, cruel story.” 4 SPOTLIGHTS
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** It has been 50 years since Lyric Opera of Chicago has presented a production of "The Daughter of the Regiment." That's much too long a span of time to deprive local audiences the pure joy of witnessing Gaetano Donizetti's 1840 bel canto comedic opera. Under the faultless work of original director Laurent Pelly (revived here by Christian Rath) this charming, new-to-Chicago production simply shines with a stellar cast that delivers all of the laughs -- of which there are many -- hits all of the high notes plus delivers it all with pure heart to make for a splendid experience in the opera house. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS
The Joffrey Ballet's Frankenstein is absolutely, positively the best I've ever seen.
***RECOMMENDED The 2023/2024 season at Lyric Opera of Chicago has set sail. Billed by the company as a "Season of Firsts," their production of Richard Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" marks the very first German opera that Music Director Enrique Mazzola has conducted here at Lyric.
**** Recommended **** I was in a quandary as I watched "The Little Mermaid". The performance was magnificent, the performers, especially Victoria Jaiani, were incredible. The story is dark, sad and brooding, quite frankly making me a little uncomfortable, and I wasn’t all that fond of Lera Auerbach’s score either. John Neumeier’s choreography was complicated and challenging, making for a beautiful ballet. As usual, the Joffrey dancers execute the most complicated choreography with flawless technique and timing. 4 BIG Spotlights
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** If you are hesitant to explore contemporary operas because you fear that the music will be too atonal or discordant, then you need to hear the soaring and oft-times ethereal score of "Proximity." If you shy away from modern operatic productions because you feel that they have nothing of any importance to state or that they are out-of-touch with reality and are completely irrelevant, then you need to let the profound importance of "Proximity" wash over you. And if all of that isn't enough to engage you, the visually stunning stagecraft of "Proximity" alone is well worth the price of admission to this bold, daring and highly inventive new work. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Ask anyone that you may know, whether they are an avid patron of the arts, merely possess a casual interest in classical music or have never attended a theatrical production in their lifetime, to name an opera -- any opera -- chances are extremely high that they will mention Carmen, Georges Bizet's 1875 work is so universally beloved that even non-opera fans will be familiar with much of its iconic score. Carmen is one of the top three operas that are presented by opera companies, both large and small, throughout the world each year. With its popularity notwithstanding and many feeling that it may be presented much too frequently, some may shy away from seeing yet another production of Carmen. However, the current offering at Lyric Opera of Chicago, featuring two stellar leads and one sensational soprano in her Lyric debut, is not-to-be-missed. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS
***RECOMMENDED*** It's not every day that you can say that you've attended the world premiere of an opera. When that opera happens to be created by multiple local artists and set on the South Side of Chicago during the summer of 2019, it is extremely exciting for all individuals involved. "The Factotum" was commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera. Chicagoland audiences, upon witnessing the conclusion of this fresh and insightful work, should leave the performance with a great sense of pride -- not only for our city -- but for all of the dedicated artists who assisted in bringing this opera to us. 3 AND 1/2 SPOTLIGHTS
***RECOMMENDED*** Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" has returned to the stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Originally presented here 20 years ago, and then again in 2012, this delightful version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale is back by popular demand. However, what those two previous productions lacked was the presence of Sir Andrew Davis in the orchestra pit. Davis, who had never conducted this opera before, brilliantly brings this dark yet whimsical work magically to life. 3 AND 1/2 SPOTLIGHTS
***** Highly Recommended ***** The Joffrey Ballet’s “Chicago-centric” version of The Nutcracker, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, is quite simply magnificent. By setting The Nutcracker amidst Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Wheeldon gave the city a unique gift. No matter how many times I see The Nutcracker, I never get tired of the feeling of anticipation and excitement before a performance, waiting for that first chord of Tchaikovsky’s glorious music! The Nutcracker is absolutely perfect in every way. 4 BIG Spotlights