Opera on your phone; CSO (lite), live and in person | Performing Arts Feature

We’ll have to wait until sometime this summer to get the video stream Lyric Opera’s promising of last weekend’s performance of the garage opera, Twilight: Gods. Like a picnic version of a gourmet meal, that event was more about the environment than the opera, so it’ll be interesting to see how well it works onscreen.  

In the meantime, Lyric’s lineup of free streaming music (at lyricopera.org) just got a boost from the addition of the 2021 production of the Ryan Opera Center’s “Rising Stars in Concert”—the annual showcase for the routinely terrific young singers at Lyric’s training center.

Performing on the Lyric stage, with the vast, empty auditorium as a poignant backdrop, this year’s cohort of 11 singers delivers a buffet of Rossini, Mozart, Mascagni, and more, accompanied by five members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Ryan Center pianist Chris Reynolds.

Among many highlights: four lovers’ duets pulled off in spite of social distancing. Kudos for that to mezzo-soprano Kathleen Felty and soprano Maria Novella Malfatti; Felty again, with baritone Leroy Davis; soprano Denis Vélez and tenor Martin Luther Clark; and mezzo-soprano Katherine Beck with tenor Lunga Eric Hallam. Also, a ravishing Brahms piano quartet featuring Reynolds.   

Also free and worth finding online: Chicago Fringe Opera‘s “A City of Works”—a series of “site-specific micro-operas,” all by different composers. They’re being released episodically, with four episodes available now. To get the full experience, you can do the scavenger hunt thing, getting yourself to a series of specific locations around the city and scanning a code on your smartphone at each to call up a music video of a newly-commissioned five-minute-or-so work inspired by and filmed at that very spot (Hyde Park, Promontory Point, Edgewater, and Lincoln Square so far). Or, if that strikes you as a trifle inconvenient, there’s this option: just stretch out on the couch with your mobile device and let your fingers go to chicagofringeopera.com.

One of the advantages of getting your opera at home is that you can do all the things that would get you killed—or at least ousted—at the opera house: doff your clothing, loudly ingest whatever’s at hand, give in to the impulse to sing along.

But there’s nothing like being there (fanfare, please): The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced Tuesday that the CSO will resume live indoor concerts later this month for the first time since March 2020. Symphony Center will open for three consecutive weekend performances of three different CSO programs, beginning May 27. Granted, these will be smaller ensemble offerings, featuring the CSO Brass, works for strings, and symphonies by Schubert and Mozart. And they’ll be performed for a reduced number of audience members, masked and observing social distancing. Still, this is optimistic and welcome news. Michael Mulcahy, Erina Yashima, and Edo de Waart will conduct; tickets go on sale to the public May 11 at cso.org or 312-294-3000.  v








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