This Superb Moby-Dick is a Defining Point in Chicago Opera Theater’s History
"By any measure, the Chicago Opera Theater's staging of Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance is a defining success in the history of the company… handsomely realized by the Chicago Opera Theater’s pit orchestra, masterfully led by music director Lidiya Yankovskaya, who never allows the momentum to flag. Also deserving praise is stage director Kristine McIntyre, who brings the human and moral contradictions into bold relief, investing the characters with depth and poignancy and infusing the ensemble scenes with rollicking movement and energy. With the help of props like harpoons and massive ropes, scenic designer Erhard Rom potently evokes a ship’s deck with a semi-abstract, semi-circular set lined with an oversized, vintage map of the world and a giant mast. Changing backdrops offer visions of waves and clouds and a chart of the stars, a navigational necessity of the time… The audience greeted the opera’s conclusion with an ardent and well-deserved ovation. By any measure, Moby-Dick is a defining success in the history of the Chicago Opera Theater."
-By Kyle MacMillan, Chicago Sun-Times
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Opera Review: Moby Dick
"As much an exercise in mounting hubris and ironclad obsession as was Captain Ahab’s pursuit of the “white whale,” this mammoth enterprise is a co-production of Utah Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, San Jose Opera and Grand Teatre del Liceu. Their impressive collaboration richly captures the drive and grasp of Herman Melville’s 1851 masterwork… At its best Kristine McIntyre’s massive staging, which features 52 performers rampaging around Erhard Rom’s vast set (an astronomical observatory whose telescope becomes the whaleship Pequod) does full justice to the monomaniacal and self-destructive quest of a crippled captain… An all-revealing cyclorama registers the converging clouds and lonely stars seen from the main deck. A twirling capstan suggests the “Nantucket sleighrides” where the whaleboats sought to weaken the sperm whale before towing it in… None of this detracts from the enthralling immediacy of story and song, musical mastery that turns both this massed ensemble and superb orchestra (conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya) into forces of nature in their own right. C.O.T.’s labor of love abounds in thinking thrills, unforgettable stage tableaux, and monumental energy that always rises to Melville’s occasions."
-By Lawrence Bommer, Stage and Cinema
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Opera Review: A Slightly Flawed but Still Mighty Moby-Dick
"Jake Heggie’s 2010 Moby-Dick, with libretto by Gene Scheer, cuts to the core of the story and, in its best passages, chillingly probes its central characters’ motivations and longings. That much was apparent in the belated Chicago premiere of the work… But the ultimate star here was the production itself, a tour de force for Chicago Opera Theater with many moving parts in Erhard Rom’s ingenious scenic design. Conductor and COT music director Lidiya Yankovskaya brought forth brilliantly colored accompaniment from the orchestra, where the most exciting musical action takes place… Stage director Kristine McIntyre elegantly choreographed a large cast of characters and choristers whose movements proved consistently expressive, especially when whales were in their sights… And yet, by opera’s end, it’s impossible not to be moved by all the men and dreams lost at sea, their tale told by the Greenhorn, who finally sings, “Call me Ishmael.”"
Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
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Review: Moby Dick, the opera
"Tough, rare and bloody… those three words encapsulate Chicago Opera Theater’s Chicago premiere of Moby-Dick. Tough to take Hermann Melville’s 1851 sweeping epic and distill it into as gripping and poignant of a libretto as Gene Scheer has miraculously done. Rare to hear a more hauntingly beautiful and stylistically varied score in a contemporary opera than what Jake Heggie composed for this 2010 work which has already been deemed a masterpiece. Bloody? Well, let’s just say that this entire production is a bloody brilliant success… Stage Director Kristine McIntyre has marvelously shaped this work into a living and breathing organism as massive and impressive as the Atlantic Ocean itself [and]… skillfully created continuous and inventive movement for a cast of over 50 singers… Chicago Opera Theater’s Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya masterfully conducted the 60-member orchestra through Heggie’s score that, in its overture almost sounded like what Bernard Herrmann may have composed for a Hitchcock film, moved into some pronounced dissonances in Act Two and overall had some of the spirited romanticism of Verdi. . . .This Chicago Opera Theater production of Moby-Dick, which is co-produced by Utah Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, San Jose Opera and Gran Teatre del Liceu is flawless on every level. With all of that pedigree and backed by international elan it easily has become the most ambitious, technically daring and most impeccable achievement that this company has presented."
By Jeffrey Leibham, Around the Town Chicago
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