The opera gods had their way last Friday and stopped the light drizzle just as the concert began. It turned out to be a beautiful evening under the stars at Chicago's lakefront Millennium Park for the annual Stars of the Lyric Opera concert.
The concert, though, was a bit more mixed than the weather. The new regime at the Lyric does not seem overly-enamored with Italian opera, and the concert as well as the new season reflects that (just two of the upcoming season's eight operas are Italian, with not a single Verdi or Puccini; but in fairness the two chosen – Norma and Lucia – are two of the very best). Selections from four of the new season's eight planned operas were performed, highlighted by mezzo Tanja Ariane Baumgartner's appearance in a flaming red dress as Carmen for the habanera, which she sang wonderfully.
Other than the selections from Carmen and Lucia and a crowd sing-along of the stirring Va Pensiero chorus from Nabucco (a highlight of last season), there wasn't much red meat, operatically speaking, on the bill. No duets or trios, and just how many concerts feature not one but two bass arias? I was hoping for a selection from the upcoming Berlioz masterpiece Les Troyens (The Trojans), which I have been studying, but no dice, and nothing from Norma.
Nevertheless, a wonderful way to spend a Friday September evening by the lakeshore, gratis, thanks once again to the Lyric Opera.