Tag: Josephine Lee

Review: Carmen (Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2017)

Carmen at Lyric Opera 2017 1           
      
  

Carmen

Written by Georges Bizet (music),
    Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy (libretto)
Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (map)
thru March 25  |  tix: $20-$349  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
     

February 24, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Wozzeck (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Tomasz Konieczny stars in Lyric Opera's "Wozzeck" by Alban Berg, directed by Sir David McVicar. (photo credit: Cory Weaver)         
      
Wozzeck 

Written by Alban Berg  
Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (map)
thru Nov 21 | tix: $29-$129  | more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

November 18, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Magical Exploding Boy and The Invisible Circus (The Actors Gymnasium)

Simone Lazar stars in The Actors Gymnasium's "The Magical Exploding Boy & The Invisible Circus," directed by Larry DiStasi. (photo credit: Kate Tabor)        
      
The Magical Exploding Boy
  and The Invisible Circus

Directed by Larry DiStasi  
at Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston (map)
thru March 23  |  tickets: $15-$20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

March 12, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Review: La Boheme (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Dimitri Pittas and Ana Maria Martinez star in Lyric Opera's "La Boheme" by Giacomo Puccini, conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. (photo credit: Dan Rest)        
      
La Bohème 

Composed by Giacomo Puccini
Conducted by Emmanuel Villaume 
Directed by Louisa Muller
at Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (map)
thru March 28  |  tickets: $69-$259   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

January 24, 2013 | 1 Comment More

Review: Momentum (River North Dance Chicago)

Jessica Wolfrum performs in River North Chicago's "Renatus", choreographed by Nejla Yatkin. (photo credit: Cheryl Mann)        
      
Momentum 

Artistic Director: Frank Chaves
at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph (map)
thru Nov 17  |  tickets: $30-$75   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

November 21, 2012 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Carmen (Lyric Opera)

   

Exquisite performances make a restless ‘Carmen’ shine

 

Katharine Goeldner as Carmen - Lyric Opera - Photo by Dan Rest

   
Lyric Opera presents  
   
Carmen
   
Composed by Georges Bizet
Directed by
Henry Silverstien
Music directed by
Alain Altinoglu
at
Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (map)
through March 27   |  
tickets: $38-$227   |   more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

Even though Georges Bizet’s Carmen spawned some of the most recognizable melodies in classical music, it was a complete flop when it premiered in 1875, as critics pronounced it immoral even before it opened. Bizet died soon afterwards, never knowing his enduring popularity. Although considered an “opera comique,” the sensual and tragic love story pretty much murdered the style. The initial run almost bankrupted Paris’ Opera Comique, but Carmen’s influence went much further. The commercially viable, family friendly, yet artistically vapid form of the opera comique was made obsolete by Bizet’s genre-bending themes.

Katharine Goeldner and Yonghoon Lee - Act III of Carmen, Lyric Opera - photo by Dan Rest A straightforward, traditional production, Lyric Opera’s Carmen is simple (or at least as simple as the Lyric gets) and deeply passionate. The focus is on the layered characters of the piece, none of whom is solidly villain or hero—they’re all just human beings. The story, loosely based on a novella by Prosper Merimee, eschews melodrama for moral complexity. Under the levelheaded direction of Henry Silverstein, this story of love—requited and otherwise—remains explosive. Even after nearly four hours of arias, I found myself with plenty to mull over on the way home.

In a Seville filled with soldiers, romance, and pretty girls, Carmen holds the record for most heads turned. She’s a poor gypsy girl, but rich in passion and independence, loving whomever she pleases. Don Jose, a lowly corporal, is smitten by her charms, and Carmen fancies the soldier, too. He even goes to jail for two months, charged with abetting her escape when she is arrested for some local trouble. After his stint in prison, Don Jose gets a little clingy. His attempts to control her does not sit well with the fiery gypsy, who dumps the obsessed lover. Like most stories that start off like this, you can probably guess the ending—homicide, followed by instant regret. In operas, domestic disputes always end bloodier than in reality.

The success or failure of this show depends on the quality of the mezzo-soprano playing Carmen. Due to some medical issues, Katharine Goeldner took over for Kate Aldrich for all of the October dates. I can’t attest to how Aldrich would have performed the role, but Goeldner was delightful. As Bizet’s famous flirt, she’s vivacious and quick. I understand Don Jose’s desire to lock that down. While usually exuding mounds of charm, Goeldner can also key into Carmen’s vicious and irrational side. She has a proto-feminist vision of gender equality, awesome—but she also harbors some wacky, romantic notions, like forcing Jose to desert the army to be with her. Goeldner makes all these layers clear. Her singing was exquisite, especially her “Habanera,” where she coquettishly discloses her thesis on free love (with a wink).

Katharine Goeldner, Kyle Ketelsen in Act III - Lyric Opera Carmen - photo by Dan Rest

Katharine Goeldner and Yonghoon Lee, final scene of Bizet Carmen, Lyric Opera - photo by Dan Rest Katharine Goeldner, Yonghoon Lee - Lyric Opera Carmen - photo by Dan Rest Katharine Goeldner, Yonghoon Lee, Lyric Opera - Carmen - photo by Dan Rest
Kyle Ketelsen as Escamilo, Lyric Opera Carmen - photo Dan Rest Yonghoon Lee as Don Jose in Carmen - Lyric Opera - photo by Dan Rest

Flown in from South Korea, Yonghoon Lee nuances his portrayal of Don Jose with plenty of lovelorn stares and conflicted frowns. He doesn’t match the intense passion of Goeldner in his acting performance, but he still presents a hefty challenge. He also struggles with externalizing Jose’s rage well; sometimes the character’s jealousy comes off as awkward, or just plain silly.

Penned by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy, the libretto could be better shaped. There are some throwbacks to the opera comique style that are unnecessary, especially in the first act. For example, there is a long number where a pack of children rush on stage and sing about imitating the army. Still can’t figure out a point to that one, besides “who doesn’t love to see kids on stage?”

The final five minutes are breathtaking, a perfect, wretched harmony of sound, image, and content. Out of sight, the chorus faintly sings the praises of a bullfighter, interspersed by the final encounter between Carmen and Don Jose, basked in blood-red light and showered with rose petals. It’s a transcendent moment, one that makes the previous three acts worthwhile.

   
   
Review: ★★★½
   
   

Lyric Opera - Scene from Act I of Carmen - Photo by Dan Rest

October 15, 2010 | 0 Comments More