Critic’s Choice

Wed Feb 05, 2020 at 11:23 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Pietro Mascagni. Photo DeAgostini/Getty Images

After a two-month hiatus, opera is back with a vengeance in Chicago this week with three openings. Lyric Opera opens a revival of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly Thursday night but it is the two other events that take pride of place.

Back from their European tour, Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in concert performances of Cavalleria Rusticana. Premiered in 1890, Pietro Mascagni’s tune-packed, one-act opera of jealousy, lust and revenge virtually inaugurated the verismo Italian opera genre. Anita Rachvelishvili, whose Amneris was a highlight in last year’s CSO performance of Aida, is Santuzza, with Piero Pretti as Turiddu and Luca Salsi as Alfio. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.; 312-294-3000.


Chicago Opera Theater continues its season with the world premiere of Freedom Ride by Dan Shore, opening Saturday night. Set in New Orleans during the summer of 1961, the COT commission tells the tale of Sylvie Davenport who is torn between her academic future and joining the freedom riders of the Civil Rights movement. Dara Rahming stars as Sylvie with Whitney Morrison, Zoie Reams, Tyrone Chambers and Cornelius Johnson among the large cast. COT music director Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts the Chicago Sinfonietta. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and February 14 and 3 p.m. February 16 at the Studebaker Theater.

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