A Coffin in Egypt | Harris Theater | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Fridays, Sundays. Continues through May 3 2015
Price: $35-$125
Composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Leonard Faglia turned Horton Foote's masterful near-monologue of a play A Coffin in Egypt into an 80-minute one-act opera specifically for veteran mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. Chicago Opera Theater brings us last year's premiere production (it opened at Houston Grand Opera), with von Stade in the role they created for her, as a 90-year-old southern widow of means, looking back on the life she failed to fully grasp. Her mostly bitter, sometimes rapturous ramblings are puzzle pieces that reveal volumes about herself, her philandering husband, and the poisonous social environment in the small town of Egypt, Texas, where they lived. Gordon wrote some beautiful music for the chamber orchestra here, but the vocalists (including a quartet that has to contend with "gospel" that's short on soul) don’t fare as well, and Faglia's occasionally rhyming libretto has softened Foote's darkest and richest edges. Still, von Stade, resplendent in red silk caftan, triumphs. —Deanna Isaacs



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