Here I am, rather late, with my account of my last days at COT - the 2012 Spring season of just two operas. To this we came. But my goodness - they were good!
Sara Heaton and Paul LaRosa - Moskva, Cheryomushki COT 2012
We opened the season with Shostakovich's Moskva, Cheryomushki. This was really one of the gayest shows we ever did - gay in the old fashioned meaning and usage of the word. It was fun, happy, life enhancing, and altogether a celebration of life.
We did it in the brilliant arrangement by Gerard McBurney; it was stunningly directed by Mike Donahue and designed by Anya Klepikov. We assembled a delicious cast of young singers. Alexander Platt was in his element in charge of the music - it was just such a happy few weeks for all concerned.
Adam Kramer (Sasha) and Emily Fons (Masha)
I hope that these few pictures will remind all our friends of the fun we had last April. We also honoured Shostakovich, and one again brought to Chicago for the first time a piece of music history - an operetta, or even a musical comedy, by one of the towering figures of 20th century music. I could not have been happier and I want to thank my friends at Opera North and David Pountney who first introduced me to the piece, and to Nicola Raab and Gerard McBurney who reintroduced me to it - we need our friends and colleagues. They all have a part to play in our successes however merely tangentially.
So the incredible light heartedness of this piece got the season off to a grand beginning and ensured that the audience was energised for the finale - something completely different.
Matthew Boehler (Drebednev) and Paul Corona (Barabashkin)
We moved on to a different world for my final "offering" - the third opera in our Medea trilogy - Handel's Teseo.
I think that over my years at COT we served Handel pretty well. The first effort was Acis and Galatea, we moved on to Semele, then to Agrippina, and so on to Resurezzione and Orlando. Teseo was written when the young Handel was a mere 27 years old. But he has already confirmed his remarkable ability to his new adopted city, London, with Rinaldo three years earlier. I think that for us all it was a revelation.
Cecelia Hall (Teseo) and Renée Tatum (Medea)
Again we managed to put together a substantial group of singers and James Darrah returned, after his success with the Charpentier the previous year, to deliver another acutely perceptive and sensitive production. His musical collaborator was Michael Beattie.
David Trudgeon (Arcano) and Deanna Breiwick (Clizia)
One of our achievements over the last 13 years was to raise the profile of music theatre before Mozart, and to provide some opportunities to Chicago musicians who know and love this material to play these pieces in a historically informed way. We brought Emmanuel Haim, Jane Glover, Christian Curnyn, and Michael Beattie, all renowned early music conductors to Chicago - and they really made a difference to the musicians here. And Errol Girdlestone, one of the founding members of the Hilliard Ensemble, conducted Semele, and Nicholas Cleobury Acis and Galatea. I know how greatly Chicago musicians appreciated these occasions. And I know also how much they will miss them in the coming years as COT changes direction.
The Baroque Band in the pit at the Harris Theater - Teseo 2012
This is the final chapter - but there will be a coda or epilogue next week to cover the Magic Flute production that was mounted after I left at the end of August. That is properly part of the 2013 season - but it has been deemed to be the last of the old and been cast out from 2012-13 and so I will happily speak about that next week! I am sorry to be late for this penultimate chapter. Seasonal circumstances always contrive to intervene.