Critic’s Choice

Tue Feb 17, 2015 at 1:50 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson


Feast or famine.

For those of us who bewail the lack of contemporary and American opera in Chicago, the coming week serendipitously offers an abundance of potential riches with three local opera premieres, two of them by American composers.

The Lyric Opera is closing its season with Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s The Passenger. The Polish composer’s Holocaust drama concerns Liese, a former Auschwitz guard, who recognizes Marta, once her prisoner, on an ocean liner 15 years after the war. Weinberg’s opera has received accolades in previous performances at Bregenz, New York and Houston and is surely the most anticipated Chicago opera event of the current season. Amanda Majeski and Daveda Karanas lead a cast that includes Brandon Jovanovich, Joshua Hopkins and Kelly Kaduce. The Passenger opens 7:30 p.m. February 24 and runs through March 15.; 312-827-5600.


While wondering if Chicago audiences will ever have the chance to hear Jake Heggie’s terrific Moby Dick, we can at least be content that the composer’s Dead Man Walking is finally receiving its first fully staged local performances, courtesy of Northwestern University. The Bienen School of Music presents Heggie’s first and most successful opera to date, based upon Sister Helen Prejean’s book about her experience with the death row inmate Joseph De Rocher. There are four performances beginning 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cahn Auditorium and running through February 28.

Chicago Opera Theater will serve up the local of debut Tobias Picker’s opera Therese Raquin, based upon Emile Zola’s tale of a murderous love triangle. Therese Raquin opens 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs through February 28.; 312-704- 8414.

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