"Our city" – It was a phrase that came up often in our conversation. It's clear Maestro Mazzola already has one foot firmly planted in his newly adopted hometown. As he confessed, he is excited to spend his first holiday season in Chicago despite health restrictions and cancellations.
It is a journey that does evolve over the course of the three songs, and textually speaking it is such an interesting journey I honestly wish there were more songs devoted to it.
In a recent Zoom conversation, Yankovskaya's pride and enthusiasm in the COT administrative and artistic staff was evident from the start. She praised their collective grit, acknowledging that their upcoming digital release, Rimsky Rebooted represents not just a "Plan B" pivot from live performance, but is rather a "5th or maybe 7th reimagining" of what they hoped to originally present to Chicago audiences.
Some listeners may prefer moderation when it comes to the tenor based pyrotechnics that ignite this recording. Soaring high notes and vivid vocal coloring create sure-fire thrills but thrills depend on relative rarity and risk being diminished by such concentrated exposure.
I'm going to write this as a live-blog, as one of the advantages of attending virtually is you can type as you listen, instead of having to remember all your thoughts from the concert!
This production has been a huge redirect for VO, and they have coped with it with creativity and great success both artistically and technologically.
Nagy and her group appear in the perfect environment for their naturalistic style of video that revels in dramatic fades to black, subtle cross fades and deft use of camerawork and lighting. The passing from day to night, from a sun-filled hall to one of intense lighting and dramatic shadow, is visually alluring.
"What does 18th-century opera have to offer us now when we face such existential challenges? Haymarket's tenth season highlights the transformational power of beauty as presented through myth, storytelling, and exquisitely timeless music by one of western music's most empathetic and compassionate composers."
Wrapping his selection of American art songs with works from poets who are celebrated and time-honored masters may partially explain why Powell has arranged the songs somewhat thematically rather than by composer. Whatever his rationale, "Billy in the Darbies" remains the soul of this undertaking.
“It's going to be like a torpedo of Mimì and Rodolfo's emotional trajectory. There's no pause to reflect. It's going to go straight through from the moment they meet until the end. As a director that's very exciting. It makes us shine a light on some of the emotional aspects that sometimes get glossed over," she adds.