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Chicago Opera Theater’s cast of “Quamino’s Map.” (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

An exploration of a little-known and fascinating aspect of Black history, “Quamino’s Map” features an exquisite score by Errollyn Wallen, an expertly crafted, character-defining libretto by Deborah Brevoort, an ideal cast under the deft direction of Kimille Howard, and a superb orchestra led by conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson.

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A sketch of a costume from the opera “Quamino’s Map.” (Credit: Danielle Preston)

When it comes to the stories told about Black people in theater, 18th century London might not be the first time and place that comes to mind. But composer Errollyn Wallen is hoping to change that with “Quamino’s Map,” a new opera being staged at Chicago Opera Theatre.   

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Justin Berkowitz (left to right), Matt Boehler, Martin Bakari, Leah Dexter and Amy Owens perform in “Becoming Santa Claus.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Have you ever wondered what Santa Claus’ childhood was like? Or why he’s so driven to take off from the North Pole for an arduous worldwide trip each Christmas Eve? The answers to those questions can be found in the 90-minute opera “Becoming Santa Claus.” 

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A promotional image for three upcoming Chicago Opera Theater productions, from left: “Carmen,” “Becoming Santa Claus” and “Quamino’s Map.” (Courtesy of Chicago Opera Theater)

Since its founding in 1973, Chicago Opera Theater has been making audacious choices in its programming and presentation. And in many ways the company displayed its formidable ingenuity and determination throughout the pandemic. Here’s a peek at its all-live season.

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Megan Pachecano is Beatriz and Daniel Montenegro is Giovani in the Chicago Opera Theater production of Daniel Catan’s “La hira de Rappaccini” (“Rappaccini’s Daughter”). (Photo: Justin Barbin)

With most traditional theater spaces off-limits and Zoom an increasingly annoying way to have to watch anything, two Chicago opera companies have demonstrated in radically different ways that “all the world is a stage” — or can be turned into one.

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Leah Dexter and Michael Mayes in “Taking Up Serpents.” (Sean Su / Chicago Opera Theater)

While most of this country’s major opera companies are suffering the painful slings and arrows of the pandemic scourge, Chicago Opera Theater continues to soldier on. And its latest production is another example of its musical, theatrical and thematic daring.

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Mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen in “Rimsky Rebooted.” (Credit: Sean Su for Chicago Opera Theater)

With the coronavirus pandemic foiling plans for a trio of live performances, Chicago Opera Theater has adapted its 2020-2021 season to be a primarily virtual one. 

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A promotional image for “Il Postino (The Postman).” (Credit: Joe Mazza)

Amid all the dire warnings that live performances might not start up again until 2021, the news that the richly creative company plans to begin its three-production season in November comes as an enormous spirit-raiser.

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Robert Sims and Tyrone Chambers, II in Chicago Opera Theater’s “Freedom Ride.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

In its airtight, fervent, emotionally riveting 90 minutes, “Freedom Ride” vividly captures a pivotal moment in American history and the civil rights movement of the early 1960s in the most sophisticated yet accessible way. 

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Michelle Johnson and Andrew Bidlack in Chicago Opera Theater’s productions of “Aleko” and “Everest.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

As Robert Frost famously wrote: “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some in ice.” And in a very real sense it was those two opposing endgame scenarios that Chicago Opera Theater conjured this past weekend as it opened its 2019-2020 season.

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Andrew Bidlack (Greenhorn) and Vince Wallace (Queequeg) in the play “Moby-Dick.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Transforming Herman Melville’s 1851 classic is no easy feat. This opera not only captures the pivotal characters in the novel, but also illuminates its major themes with impressive emotional directness.

A Theatrical Approach to Opera Performed on a Liquid Stage

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One of the more daring highlights of the fall arts season promises to be Chicago Opera Theater’s staging of the mythical romance “Orpheus and Eurydice.”