3.29.2010

Chicago Opera Theater announces 2011-12 season, John von Rhein Heard & Scene column

Opera Theater puts innovation on calendar

John von Rhein Classical music critic

March 25, 2010


Never mind that Chicago Opera Theater hasn't even raised the curtain on its 2010 spring festival season, which launches April 17 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. Building anticipation can only be good business, particularly in a dicey economy. With that strategy in mind, the company has released its schedule for spring 2011, along with a glimpse at what lies beyond.

Leading off COT's 2011 season will be the Midwest premiere of a new opera, American composer Tod Machover's "Death and the Powers." The libretto is by U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky from a story by Randy Weiner about what we leave behind once we pass away. COT will collaborate on the production with the MIT Media Lab and Harvard's American Repertory Theatre.

American Repertory Theatre artistic director Diane Paulus, who has staged cycles of Mozart and Monteverdi operas for COT, returns to direct. "Death and the Powers" will receive its world premiere in Monaco in September and its U.S. premiere in Boston March 2011. Chicago dates are April 2-10, 2011.

Next up is the Chicago premiere of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's masterpiece, "Medee." This is the second work in COT's trilogy of Baroque operas based on the Medea legend. (Others are Cavalli's "Giasone" next month and Handel's "Teseo" in spring 2012.) Chicago's Baroque Band will serve in the pit, with Christian Curnyn conducting. Both Curnyn and stage director Justin Way also are heading the production team for COT's "Giasone" ("Jason"). "Medee" will run April 23 to May 1, 2011.

The spring season will conclude with "HE/SHE," a pairing of rarely staged song cycles: Leos Janacek's "The Diary of One Who Disappeared" and Robert Schumann's "Frauenliebe und Leben" ("A Woman's Love and Life"). The double bill will be directed by COT regular Lillian Groag. Joseph Kaiser will take the tenor role in the Janacek work; the soprano performing the Schumann has not been announced. Craig Terry will be the pianist. Dates are May 7-15, 2011.

For budgetary reasons, COT is pushing its announced production of Shostakovich's "Moscow, Cheryomushki" back to September 2011 when it will kick off the company's 2011-12 season, comprising one opera in the fall and two in the spring. The postponement will save COT an excess of $400,000, says general director Brian Dickie.

"We are all seeking smart ways to reduce costs," he says. "What I'm not prepared to do is to make any further compromises on rehearsal conditions and other corner-cutting."

For information about season subscriptions, call 312-704-8414, or visit chicagooperatheater.org

jvonrhein@tribune.com

CD of the week
Biber: Mensa Sonora; Battalia. Baroque Band (Cedille). German composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber was one of the great originals of the second half of the 17th century. The six instrumental suites (or "pars") collectively titled "Mensa Sonora" ("Musical Table") far surpass in quality of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic invention their practical function as background music for lavish dinners at the Salzburg archbishop's court. Chicago's period instruments ensemble Baroque Band, in its debut recording, brings out their quirkiness and charm with marvelous panache.

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    Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune

    Death and the Powers, midwest premiere with COT.

    Posted via web from Underdogs and Optimists

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