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Subject: worst performance
From: Gregory Berg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Sat, 1 Mar 1997 21:21:39 -0500

text/plain (34 lines)

Bergitas here.  In a decade of performances at the Chicago Lyric Opera, the
most disappointing night stands well below the rest. . . Alceste with Jessye
Norman and Chris Merritt.   I went in knowing only the big aria, which I
love, but should have figured that it wouldn't all be on that exalted level.
. . and it certainly wasn't.  What a dry, uninvolving opera - at least when
presented in an ultra modern, impersonal, and ugly production!  On top of
that, we heard a decidedly off-form Jessye Norman and a so-so Chris Merritt
who didn't seem to be any more excited about the undertaking than we were.

Almost as disappointing (less disappointing because our expectations were
lower) was the Trovatore performance with Mr. Merritt once again, in the
worst case of mis-casting since Melba's Brunnhilde.  His Leonora was a
perfect match for him. . . lyudmilla (I think) Kazaranovskaya (am I even
close?) in a fluttery and underpowered performance that was as forgettable as
the spelling of her name.  To make matters even worse for those two, the
Azucena of the evening was Dolora Zajick, who sang them right off of the

There have been other unfortunate performances to be sure . . . with Ewing's
maddeningly mannered Susannah in Le Nozze de Figaro and Richard Cowan's
utterly inaudible Escamillo heading the list, alongside most of the
appearances of Ciannella. . . but I certainly count myself fortunate to have
thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of opera performances that I've seen.  I
always try to walk through the front door with hopeful expectation, not under
a cloud of preconceived notions on how singer X is going to blow it once
again.   That attitude strikes me as way-too Neanderthal when we're talking
about as extraordinary an art form as this one.   If you want a world of
black and white, villains and good guys, and an inflexible scorecard of who
you will and will not root for, I suggest that you pay a visit to the World
Wrestling Federation, the next time they come to town.  Go and boo your
little heads off.

Greg Berg   Racine, WI

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