What is better than a summer night in the park? I will tell you: a summer night in the park with beautiful music from the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
On Sunday night, in amazing Millennium Park, the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Enrique Mazzola, along with many talented Ryan Opera Center ensemble members showcased the upcoming 2021-2022 season at the Lyric Opera by performing pieces from the upcoming shows. It was an appetizer of sort, but it was so delicious that it felt like an entire meal.
Mozart’s The Magic Flute was the first show to be featured with three impressive songs performed. The story begins as Tamino, performed by Martin Luther Clark, being saved from certain death by three ladies, performed by Mathilda Edge, Katherine DeYoung and Kathleen Felty. Before they help Tamino up, the ladies take a moment to admire Tamino’s good looks and fighting over who gets to stay with him. The way these ladies bickered over the man was extraordinary, it did not sound like bickering at all. The arguing sounded like angels. And it made every man in the audience a slight bit jealous of Tamino.
The most interesting show previewed Sunday is Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in my Bones. Based on a book by Charles M. Blow, this modern opera (debuted in 2019) is referred to as “opera in jazz” and documents the despair and violence of an upbringing in segregated Louisiana. That despair could be felt in Leroy Davis’s baritone voice as he performed “Peculiar Grace.” The performance was so rich and dramatic that it made everyone in downtown Chicago’s heart break. The song and performance were so emotional, it made me want to see the full show because I need to know what happens.
The most hilarious of all the premises belongs to The Elixir of Love. A simpleton wants to win the love a beautiful (and rich) woman but feels like the woman doesn’t take him seriously. So, a charlatan sells him some “love potion” – which turns out to be a cheap bottle of red wine – that helps him gain the confidence he needs (this is a very relatable idea). The performances by Maria Novella Malfatti and Lunga Eric Hallam were the best of the night. They were humorous, flirtatious, silly, but most of all powerful while still being lovely. They were a knock-out duo that definitely deserve a second look.
I am leaving out descriptions of other outstanding songs in during the night, including amazing performances from MacBeth, Florencia en el Amazonas, and Tosca. All were awesome and deserving of praise. One thing is for sure, the 2021-2022 season at the Lyric Opera will be one to be remembered.
For more information on the 2021-2022 season at the Lyric Opera, please click here.
Photos by K. Joseph Fotos.