Show Boat at Lyric Opera of Chicago
March 03, 2012
* Notes *
A new production of Show Boat (Act I, Scene 1 pictured left, photograph by Robert Kusel/Lyric Opera of Chicago) opened at Lyric Opera of Chicago last month. The Friday matinée performance was an utter delight from top to bottom. Director Francesca Zambello is at her best in this co-production with Lyric, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. The humanity of the characters is clear and compelling. Peter J. Davison's set is not overly ornate, move cleanly, and work well with Mark McCullough's characteristically elegant lighting. The costumes, by Paul Tazewell, often make use of a pleasing contrast of red, white, and turquoise. The dancing, choreographed by Michele Lynch, is charming.
The straightforward music sounded effortless as far as the orchestra was concerned, conducted here by John DeMain. The chorus was robust, as were the principals. Cindy Gold and Ross Lehman were entertaining as Parthy and Captain Andy. Alyson Cambridge made for a striking Julie, with her incisive, but never shrill voice. Angela Renée Simpson sang Queenie with beauty and feeling. Morris Robinson was most impressive as Joe, his music is perhaps the most famous in this particular work, and he sang "Ol' Man River" with warmth and beauty. Ashley Brown was an adorable Magnolia, she chirped sweetly. Nathan Gunn turned out a believable Ravenal, the lightness of his voice having an appeal in this role.
* Tattling *
The house was full of seniors and children, which meant there were watch alarms at the hours and a lot of fidgeting. The family in Upper Balcony Row Q Seats 10-16 could not stay still, one of the sons kept running across the aisle and the other would occasionally stand up as he was unable to see the stage from his seat.