Lyric Opera Center For American Artists | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Lyric Opera Center For American Artists 

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For years the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists--the company's talent incubator, founded in 1974--has been loaning out some of its most promising apprentices for concerts around town. Six current members, each of whom beat out nearly 500 other aspirants for one of the center's dozen yearly slots, will perform this Sunday at the Art Institute in conjunction with the new exhibit "German Art and the Past: Prints and Drawings From Friedrich to Baselitz," which covers developments from Romanticism to neo-expressionism. The bill consists of selections from Mozart's best-known German-language operas, The Abduction From the Seraglio and The Magic Flute, and from Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischutz and Die drei Pintos. Mozart's place in the history of Romanticism is open to debate--The Magic Flute, completed in 1791, at most foreshadows the movement--but Weber, writing three decades later, was a full-blown Romantic who dealt in German cultural nationalism, macabre folklore, flamboyant and exaggerated theatrical gestures, and equally colorful orchestration. He influenced Schumann, Liszt, and above all Wagner, but he's hardly so well remembered himself. Though Weber's work is inventive and many of his musical characterizations are psychologically astute, the only pieces revived with any frequency these days are his operatic overtures, a few of his concerti, and Der Freischutz--heralded by German audiences in the early 1820s as opera's first vital contribution to the growing Romantic movement. The "free shooter" of the title--a brawny, self-reliant, and uncorrupted forester--embodied the German heroic ideal, and doubtless provided a model for Wagner's Siegfried. On the program at this recital are the arias "Schweig, schweig!" and "Trube Augen," as well as an aria, a duet, and a trio from Die drei Pintos, a seldom heard comic opera. The four Mozart selections, which include the delightful duet "Pa-Pa-Pa," are more familiar. Performing will be sopranos Stacey Tappen and Nicole Cabell, mezzo-soprano Lauren McNeese, lyric tenor Scott Ramsay, baritone Brian Leerhuber, and bass-baritone Wayne Tigges. Their piano accompanist will be Lyric assistant conductor Eric Weimer; Mary Sue Glosser, an Art Institute lecturer, will give a slide presentation during the concert and lead a tour of "German Art and the Past" afterward. Sunday, June 23, 2 PM, Fullerton Auditorium, Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan; 312-443-3600 or 312-443-3680.

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