Review: Moscow, Cheryomushki (Chicago Opera Theater)

| April 22, 2012 | 1 Comment

Ashleigh Semkow (Vava), Matt Boehler (Fedya) - in Chicago Opera Theatre's "Moscow, Cheryomushki", conducted by Alexander Platt, directed by Mike Donahue. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)      
     
Moscow, Cheryomushki

Music by Dmitri Shostakovich 
Libretto adapted by Meg Miroshnik
Conducted by Alexander Platt
Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph (map)
thru April 25  |  tickets: $25-$125   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     



     
       

The musical ‘Rent’…..Russian stye

     

Dominic Armstrong, Emily Fons, Paul LaRosa, Adrian Kramer, Sara Heaton, Paul Scholten

    
Chicago Opera Theater presents
    
Moscow, Cheryomushki

Review by Katy Walsh 

I first became interested in opera by watching a movie.  In “Philadelphia”, Tom Hanks describes a scene from “Andrea Chenier”.  As Maria Callas is singing powerfully, belting out her aria, Hanks is describing her anguish.  That was THE moment I started to immerse myself in this passionate genre.  I’ve seen probably 100 operas.  Most of them were heavy-duty subject matters:  insanity, incest, murder… sometimes all three. Opera is as dramatic as theatrics get.  Love is most often punishable by death.  But every once in a while, love survives with an operatic flourish of pure pleasure.         

Adrian Kramer as Sasha, Emily Fons as Masha in Chicago Opera Theatre's "Moscow, Cheryomushki", conducted by Alexander Platt, directed by Mike Donahue. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)Chicago Opera Theater presents Moscow, Cheryomushki.  Housing, unemployment, socialism, Moscow is facing troubling economic times.  And even worse,  love is struggling to bloom.  Sasha and Masha, a couple of newlyweds, are forced to live apart.  Sergei adores Lusya from afar… she’s on top of a crane.  Boris is trying to find love that conveniently comes with an apartment.  Vava wants to be married, but to a sugar daddy.  When a new housing complex opens up, everyone is looking to shack up.   But who really holds the keys to their happiness?  Moscow, Cheryomushki is the musical “Rent”… Russian style.

I’m certain I’ve never described an opera as peppy or feisty or sassy.   This one is all three. Moscow, Cheryomushki is a fun-loving romp.  Cheryomushki welcomes visitors with promises of better lives.  And this opera delivers on that pledge with larger-than-life exhilaration.  On a stage of scaffolding, Director Mike Donahue fills the town with vibrant personalities.  The chorus mingles with the principals for a big joyful spectacle.  For poor people with no place to live, this group harmonizes with a rich, robust sound.  Not only does the ensemble resonate frolicsome melodies, they really seem to be having fun doing it.  It’s quite the love-fest by the story’s dictation and the cast’s decision.  The jocular familiarity spills over into other realms as the talented cast interact with the orchestra and even the audience.  

Ashleigh Semkiw as Vava, Moscow Cheryomushki - Chicago Opera Theater in Chicago Opera Theatre's "Moscow, Cheryomushki", conducted by Alexander Platt, directed by Mike Donahue. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)
in Chicago Opera Theatre's "Moscow, Cheryomushki", conducted by Alexander Platt, directed by Mike Donahue. (photo credit: Liz Lauren) Matt Boehler as Fedya and Paul Corona as Barabashkin, in Chicago Opera Theatre's "Moscow, Cheryomushki", conducted by Alexander Platt, directed by Mike Donahue. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)
Paul LaRosa as Boris, Sara Heaton as Lidochka in Chicago Opera Theatre's "Moscow, Cheryomushki", conducted by Alexander Platt, directed by Mike Donahue. (photo credit: Liz Lauren) Moscow, Cheryomushki - in Chicago Opera Theatre's "Moscow, Cheryomushki", conducted by Alexander Platt, directed by Mike Donahue. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)

Under the high-spirited baton of Alexander Platt, there are multiple lovable duets. The enthusiastic and sexually frustrated Adrian Kramer (Sasha) and Emily Fons (Masha) charm with their singing and make-out antics.  Their interactions are both hilarious and hot.  In a smoldering flirtation, Sara Heaton (Lidochka) and Paul LaRosa (Boris) allure with a classic con-falls-for-pawn storyline.  The pairing dance and sing with old-fashion enchantment.  Another standout in this magical town is Ashleigh Semkiw (Vava), strutting her material girl ways with pride and perfect comedic timing.               

There is a lot to love about Moscow, Cheryomushki!  I especially enjoyed the effervescent and sometimes fluorescent costumes.  Anya Klepikov dresses the cast in vibrant 50’s vintage looks.  For work uniformity, a clever Klepikov puts bright yellow construction vests with orange stripes over the playtime wear.  The look is amusing and sets the tone  for work over recreation.        

For seasoned and novice opera goers, you will fall hard for Moscow, Cheryomushki, especially if you’re in the mood for love.

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

Moscow, Cheryomushki continues through April 25th at Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph (map, parking). Tickets are $25-$125, and are available by phone (312-704-8414) or online here (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at ChicagoOperaTheater.org(Running time: 3 hours, includes intermission)

Adrian Kramer (Sasha), Emily Fons (Masha) - Chicago Opera Theater

All photos by Liz Lauren


     

artists

Sara Heaton as Lidochka - Moscow, Cheryomushki - Chicago Opera Theaterin Chicago Opera Theatre's "Moscow, Cheryomushki", conducted by Alexander Platt, directed by Mike Donahue. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)cast

Adrian Kramer (Sasha); Emily Fons (Masha); Sara Heaton (Lidochka); Paul Scholten (Baburov); Paul LaRosa (Boris); Ashleigh Semkiw (Vava); Dominic Armstrong (Sergei); Matt Boehler (Drebednev); Paul Corona (Barabashkin); Sophie Gordeladze (Liusia)

behind the scenes

Alexander Platt (conductor); Mike Donahue (director); Anya Klepikov (sets, costumes); Julian Pike (lighting); Eric Sean Fogel (choreography); Meg Miroshnik (new English adaptation); Gerard McBurney (arrangements); Liz Lauren (photos)

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3 Words: Enjoying her first opera, my cousin Jennie describes it with ‘lively, playful, upbeat.’

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Category: 2012 Reviews, Chicago Opera Theater, Katy Walsh, Opera

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