October Happenings: Orphée et Eurydice, Rigoletto, Macbeth 2018…

It’s been a hectic October at UChicago so far, and so, I haven’t had that much time to update the blog! Anyways, since my last post, I’ve gotten to attend two operas at Lyric Opera. The first, Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, was the opening opera of Lyric’s ’17-’18 season and the second was Verdi’s Rigoletto.

Lyric’s production of the Gluck, which featured a new collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, was presented in the rarely performed 1774 French version (revised for the Paris Opera), and thus incorporated a lot of ballet (hence, the Joffrey collaboration!). Dmitry Korchak, who sung the titular role of Orphée very well, will be returning back to Chicago later in 2018 to sing Rossini’s Stabat Mater with Maestro Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — so I’m definitely looking forward to his return to Chicago for that performance (which I’m sure will be great). While the French version of the opera is still a great work, I still do happen to prefer the Italian version — the French has too much ballet for my taste (at times, it felt like the production was more of a ballet than it was of an opera), and the Italian language seems to fit better with the music. Anyways, it was a great way to start the opera season in Chicago, and Lyric’s production of the opera following Orphée et Eurydice also did not disappoint!

Verdi’s Rigoletto is one of Verdi’s most tragic works; I became familiar with the opera a couple of years ago after watching a video clip of the famous quartet in the last act, but I had never actually listened to an actual production of it in its entirety until just last week. While the opera is famous for its (many) arias such as La donna é mobile, Parmi veder le lagrime, Caro nome, etc., I still enjoy the father-daughter (baritone-soprano) duets the most, similar to Verdi’s Nabucco (Donna, chi sei? the Act III duet in Nabucco between Nabucco and Abigaille is my favorite part of the entire opera, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere on this blog before) and Verdi’s Aida (Ciel! Mio Padre! in Act III between Amonasro and Aida is also one of my favorite parts of the opera). Whether it’s Rigoletto/Gilda, Nabucco/Abigaille, Amonasro/Aida, etc., Verdi (for me at least) seems to write his best music within these father-daughter duets. And, it also seems to me that a lot of the key dramatic action of the opera is centered around these father-daughter dynamics, which makes it that much more exciting to listen to and watch. It was great to hear Quinn Kelsey and Rosa Feola (who played Nannetta in the CSO’s concert performance of Falstaff two seasons ago under Maestro Muti) perform their roles of Rigoletto and Gilda, respectively, with such depth — both in their singing and acting. Although my favorite Verdi baritone is still Renato Bruson, I had no qualms about Kelsey’s interpretation of the jester.

In other news relating to Verdi, the opera for Maestro Muti’s Italian Opera Academy next year has been announced…Verdi’s Macbeth!!! Macbeth is another one of my favorite operas by Verdi, and I’ve listened to many recordings of it. Of course, I didn’t get the chance to hear this opera live when Maestro Muti conducted it in Chicago in 2013 (why did I have to be in high school then?!), so it’s super tempting to go back next summer to Ravenna for the Academy, which takes place from July 21st, 2018 — August 3rd, 2018. I’m still not sure how my grad school plans will turn out for next year, so I don’t know if I can make it, but I will definitely go if I can! (Plus…spending part of my last summer in Ravenna before grad school (if I can get in anywhere haha) starts wouldn’t be a bad thing to do 😀 ) Also, if there are any readers out there who who happen to be debating whether or not to go to the Academy, I highly recommend going!! Seriously, Ravenna is an amazing city and the amount of learning that goes on during the Academy is off-the-charts. It isn’t just music you learn about, but also history, culture, language…an transformative experience to say the least!!

Anyways, I think my next concerts will be back in Symphony Center towards the beginning of November. The Mariinsky Orchestra, led by Valery Gergiev, is visiting Chicago, with Denis Matsuev as a soloist in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto №2. My music analysis/criticism class during my freshman year studied Gergiev’s interpretation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, so I’ve been wanting to see Maestro Gergiev conduct live for a while now (he’s arguably Russia’s most famous conductor today, though Temirkanov/Rozhdestvensky are both great Russian conductors as well!). Also next month, Maestro Muti will be returning to Chicago for a free community concert at Lane Tech High School and a series of concerts w/ the CSO, with Strauss’ Der Burger als Edelmann on the program, which I have looking forward to hearing again since last year’s concert at the Salzburg Festival (now two Festivals ago…time flies fast!). Speaking of that concert, Deutsche Grammophon has just released a new recording of that concert, in honor of Maestro Muti’s 75th birthday last year. Anyways, I will post more in a couple of weeks — until then!

I’m currently a graduate student at Northwestern University, working on developing bio-integrated electronics and microfluidics for health monitoring and pain therapeutic applications. I’m also an avid listener of classical music and am particularly interested in the musicology of 19th century Italian opera, especially those of Giuseppe Verdi. View all posts by Claire Liu

Originally published at lecorsodeldestino.wordpress.com on October 24, 2017.