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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.