Harris Theater Setting for BEYOND THE ARIA
Beyond the Aria is a performance series produced by Harris Theater in association with Lyric Unlimited.
I reported to Chicago’s Harris Theater for a performance of Beyond the Aria – without any idea of what would be happening. After taking 2 elevators and walking a maze of backstage corridors my date, I arrived smack in the center of that gigantic Pritzker Pavilion stage that is home to the Grant Park Symphony .. Imagine! I have always wondered what would happen to this amphitheater in winter and now I know! The stage boasts a beautifully designed, steel and glass “house curtain” on rollers that closes off the stage from the 1,500-seat amphitheater and protects guests from the wind, rain, snow and cold. Amazing!
Beyond the Aria
Beyond the Aria performances feature internationally celebrated opera singers alongside rising stars from The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center of Lyric Opera of Chicago, an eminent artist-development program. The artists perform a repertoire of their choosing of songs and lieder which may include Broadway, American Songbook, Jazz, and more, with accompaniment by pianist Craig Terry, who is the Artistic Director for the Beyond the Aria series and the Music Director for Ryan Opera Center.
We sat at café tables, were treated to libations, nuts and exceedingly beautiful voices This concert was the third of the 2016-2017 season.
Super-gifted singing stars
Three singers appeared: Christiane Karg, soprano, Lindsay Metzger, mezzo-soprano and Adam Plachetka, Bass Baritone.
Christiane Karg and Adam Plachetka are currently appearing on the Lyric Opera Stage in Mozart’s The Magic Flute as Pamino and Papageno, respectively.
Christiane Karg has sung at the major opera houses of the world and only last season made her U.S. debut at Lyric Opera. She is a tiny lady with big blue eyes and an oversized soprano voice that rang through the Pritzker stage, easily heard by all. She is out-going seeming to possess a diamond personality. A big plus is that Karg is a consummate actress who acts as she sings.
Adam Plachetka has been blessed with a deep resonating bass-baritone voice. He is full of life and highly animated. He hails from Prague and is an ensemble member of the venerable Vienna State Opera appearing in title role. He sang five gypsy songs written by Dvorak that were so alive and haunting. His rendition of “The Impossible Dream” brought the house down.
Chicago singer Lindsay Metzger completed the singing trio. She is the newest to the performing stage. A second-year mezzo with the Ryan Opera Center, Metzger hails from Mundelein. She is closely related to that wonderful lady Judith Manners of Miss Manners fame. One of her offerings was “Manners at the Opera.”
Songs and Lieder
The three artists presented lieder from their homelands plus several modern songs . The wonderful compositions known as “lieder” that were popular with Romantic composers are sung only with piano accompaniment. Lieder are a typically 19th-century German art song characterized by the setting of a poetic text in either strophic or through-composed style. Lieder characteristically treats the piano and voice in equal artistic partnership.
Poulenc was represented with several songs he wrote about life in hotels.
An Excited Master of Ceremonies
Craig Terry, Beyond the Aria’s Artistic Director doubled as pianist and master of ceremonies. He was so happy and excited about the evening that it was difficult for me to not get up and sing with his artists! A dynamic man who is sensitive and stylish, committed and talented , he has accompanied some of the world’s leading singers and instrumentalists. Currently, Mr. Terry is Music Director of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera and for eleven prior seasons was Assistant Conductor.
Beyond the Aria is in very good hands with Craig Terry!
Who will enjoy the Beyond the Aria Series? Beyond the Aria is a top pick for, music lovers who would like to be served up delicacies of songs and lieder that they might not already know. Maestro Terry allows his artists to create their program together with him so you never know just what will be on the musical menu.
Who might not enjoy the Beyond the Aria format? If you uneasy with classical music that you have not already heard many times then this series will probably not please you…but who knows? Actually I am one of these latter folks and I loved this perfectly enjoyable 90-minutes of song!
The performances are one-night only. Here are details on the next performance is featuring Elizabeth DeShong, mezzo-soprano, Russell Thomas, tenor and Patrick Guetti, bass —accompanied by Craig Terry, Beyond the Aria’s Artistic Director.
February 21, 2017 7:30 PM
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
205 E. Randolph Drive