By Susan Lillis
An enchanting, magical evening was spent being introduced to the Haymarket Opera Company’ s – DePaul University’s, Mary Patricia Gannon Concert Hall,( 505-seat state of the art) as it featured world acclaimed Elizabeth DeShong and Jory Vinikour in a program entitled Solace and Sorrows. It is ironic to title this performance “solace and sorrow” because the music is wonderfully joyful and celebratory and as its Artistic Director, Craig Trompeter, points out “transcends the centuries to awaken our souls.”
Mezzo soprano, Elizabeth DeShong, has an incredible range and gorgeous full rich voice. She is a sparkling stellar presence on stage. Ms. DeShong in 2010 was named Artist of the Year. Currently, she is also appearing in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
She is masterful at interpreting Bach’s cantatas. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Ich Habe Genug ( I have fulfillment) was originally written for solo bass. Thankfully, for us it was reworked for a soprano or mezzo-soprano. The lyrics describe the Biblical story of an elderly Simeon holding the baby Jesus in his arms fulfilling the Messianic prophecy. Now he can die in peace knowing he has seen the Messiah. He prays the Nunc dimittis (now dismiss). Ms. DeShong also sings Mein Herze Schwimmt in Blut (My heart swims in blood). This is the story of sin and then salvation through God’s forgiveness.
Jory Vikour, who was born in Chicago, and a 2013 Grammy Award nominee, is acknowledged as one of the most outstanding harpsichord players of this generation. He treats us to his striking talent and dynamic playing of both the organ and harpsichord on stage.
The “Haymarket” name is derived as a dual honor acknowledging Chicago’s Haymarket laborers who rallied for an 8-hour workday in 1886. Seven officers and one civilian were killed after a bomb was thrown at the police. It is estimated that sixty others were injured as the police fired back and chaos ensued. The Haymarket name is also in reference to the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket district of London famous for 17 and 18th century music and where more than 25 of George Friedrich Handel operas were first performed.
The HOC opened the evening’s performance with Arcangelo Corelli’s (1653-1713) Concerto Grosso in F Major. This was the perfect selection for the small treasure trove of artistic talent accompanying Elizabeth DeShong. The principal orchestra includes First Violin: Jeri-Lou Zike, Pauline Kempf, Jaime Gorgojo Viola: Elizabeth Hagen Oboe: Stephen Bard Violone: Jerry Fuller Cello and Violone: Craig Trompeter. He is founder, artistic director, and musician extraordinaire. His passion became a vision to enrich the musical community of Chicago through staging 17th and 18thcentury opera and oratorios using period instruments. He himself plays the violone, a bass viol similar to a cello. HOC performs Baroque masterpieces and often overlooked musical treasures from the From the Age of Enlightenment that traditional orchestras do not perform. This staging allows for an up close and personal musical experience.
Almost a decade in existence HOC started at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park playing private and corporate events in a limited seating cabaret setting. They then moved to the Studebaker Theater. On Friday night’s performance it was apparent that many audience members were familiar with each other. Now, as partners with DePaul University, HOC will be able to share this venue allowing the opportunity for a wide-spread fandom to experience the unique musical gifts of this ensemble.
Future performances for Haymarket Opera Company are: Early Opera Cabaret, a Haymarket Gala Fundraiser, on Thursday, April 30,2020 at 6:30 p.m. at The Arts Club of Chicago 201 East Ontario Street, Chicago.
On June 12-17 L’Incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi at Jarvis Opera Hall in the Depaul’s Holtschneider Performance Center 2330 N Halsted Street, Chicago.
Friday, June 12 at 7:30pm
Sunday, June 14 at 3pm
Monday, June 15 at 7:00pm
Wednesday, June 17 at 7:00pm