Friday, February 5, 2016

"It can hit you like a bus"

Susanna Phillips

     Opera is about love, or should be.
     The love that characters have for each other — or, tragically, don't have for each other — in tales unfolding in splendor on stage, awash in gorgeous music.
     And the love audiences have for the productions.
     Or, less tragically, don't have. I must admit, earlier this season, after 91 deeply felt minutes enduring Alban Berg's cacophony "Wozzeck" — "deeply felt" as in a sleepless night spent on a bed of broken brick — "love" was not the concept that sprang to mind, other than love of it ending.
     But as with following professional sports, sometimes you are left exasperated. Your team doesn't win every game, you don't enjoy every opera. That's an aspect of love too.
     Not that this will be an issue with "Romeo and Juliet," which premieres Feb. 22, when I'll be bringing 100 readers along in the 8th (!) annual Sun-Times Goes to the Lyric Contest. (I couldn't bring 100 readers to "Wozzeck" without worrying about being brought up on charges at the Hague.)

To continue reading, click here. 



  1. I tried ,I really did to like Opera. It sounds so magnificent on paper. But I found even the most palatable and "fun" opera to be like that bed of bricks. Several hours of wondering when it would end. It just wasn't for me. And Life's too short to spend time dreading ones entertainment. But it's worth seeing if Opera is for you. Good luck to all who compete.

  2. "Romeo and Juliet" can be a good introduction to opera. Not as many famous arias as "Faust," but tune-full. And reasonably faithful to Shakespeare, unlike the operatic "Hamlet," which Ambrose Thomas gave a happy ending.

    Still think you're a bit hard on "Wozzeck." And am a bit surprised you haven't commented on Lyric's "Nabucco." Beleaguered Jews. Excellent, mostly Russian, cast. And "Va Pensiero," the great chorus that 300,000 Italians lining the streets of Milan sang as Verdi's funereal cortege progressed along its way.

    Tom Evans

    1. (@Tom -- You're so right; I too was going to mention how wonderful "Nabucco" was. I saw it yesterday and was stunned at the quality of the entire production. Tatiana Serjan as Abigaille was worth the price of admission alone.


  3. My first opera was "Carmen" in 2010, and as Ms. Phillips so succinctly put it, it "hit me like a bus" (thank the Lord it wasn't "Wozzeck"). The Sun-Times opera contest is definitely worth entering for anyone who hasn't been, and how can you go wrong with "Romeo and Juliet".

    Lovely photo at the top; has a "spring is just around the corner" vibe.



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