Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Season off to a Promising Start!
by Christie Connolley
John von Rhein with the Chicago Tribune had great things to say about the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s season opener Les Contes d’Hoffman which is playing through October 29. Check out the Operagasm Review Rundown!
Don’t call it a comeback!: “Hoffmann” has been absent from the Lyric repertory for nearly three decades, partly because the availability of so many different editions leaves opera producers in a quandary. Musicologists are still trying to sort out the tangled heap of musical material Offenbach left at his death in 1880, four months before “Hoffmann” had its premiere in Paris. Which is why every production of this wryly funny, irresistibly melodious work winds up as a compromise between scholarly authenticity and theatrical practicality.”
Hoffman talented AND handsome?: “Tackling the daunting role of Hoffmann for the first time anywhere, Matthew Polenzani gives a vocally polished, ardent and stylish performance. The Wilmette-born singer, a star alum of the Ryan center, earned the audience’s acclaim on opening night. Hoffmann is a perfect fit for his voice and artistry at this stage of his international career. One had only to marvel at the stamina, tonal reserves, ease in the upper range and bell-like French vowels he brought to this daunting part… What’s more, Polenzani cut a handsome figure and made one feel sympathy, even pity, for the hopelessly besotted Hoffmann, whose ability to fall in love with the wrong woman, time after time, strains credulity even by operatic standards.”
Nerds + Their Technology = Great Opera: “The show’s backdrop, a replica of London’s long-defunct Crystal Palace, gives the designers a chance to run wild with magic mechanicals such as caught the fancy of audiences of Offenbach’s day. Olympia glides around on a remote-controlled platform. Coppelius steps off a steam locomotive, Miracle from a horseless carriage. Mechanical gondoliers steer boats on the Grand Canal in the Giulietta act.”