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Chicago Opera Theater 

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In a double bill closing this weekend, Chicago Opera Theater delivers gripping interpretations of two rarely performed early-20th-century works probing psychoanalytic depths: Bartok's Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Schoenberg's Erwartung ("Expectation"). Bass-baritone Samuel Ramey brings dramatic conviction and a formidable growl to the lead role in Bluebeard (1911), the story of an older man with a dark castle and even darker past. As his doomed young bride, soprano Krisztina Szabo is stunning, though her bright lyrical sound doesn't always have the heft to project over the superb but brass-heavy orchestra. In the vocally demanding 30-minute monodrama Erwartung (1909), soprano Nancy Gustafson is outstanding as the unnamed woman haunted by her lover's death, conveying her character's hysteria with fierce intensity. The only disappointment of the evening is the silly--and distracting--costuming of Bluebeard's previous wives, who slink onstage in bodysuits and face paint like three refugees from Cats. Alexander Platt conducts. a 7:30 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-704-8414, $40-$120.


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