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Three Sopranos 

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THREE SOPRANOS

A distaff version of that commercial monstrosity called "The Three Tenors" was inevitable I suppose. Fortunately, in assembling "The Three Sopranos" local impresario and Russophile C. Geraldine Freund hasn't deferred to star power. Instead she's recruited prima donnas from estimable Russian ballet and operatic troupes who are relatively unknown in the West. (Freund did try to snare Jessye Norman, perhaps the only female singer as recognized as Domingo and Pavarotti, but she balked at Norman's high price tag.) Unlike the aging tenors, these sopranos--Marina Lapina and Maria Gavrilova from the Bolshoi Theatre and Ljuba Kazarnovskaya from the Kirov Opera--are in their 30s. And their well-schooled, Russian-inflected voices are ripening nicely, a praise not likely to be contested by those who heard Kazarnovskaya's debut at Lyric Opera last season. The sensible program is short on pop tunes and long on arias from operas absent from Lyric's present and near-future slates and includes famous numbers from Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades and Verdi's, Schubert's, and Gounod's takes on "Ave Maria." The pit orchestra is no slouch either. Karl Sollak conducts. Proceeds from this inaugural recital will go to AIDS research at area hospitals; those from subsequent concerts will help fund the Chicago Endowment for the Arts, an outfit intended to be an ironic response to the Republicans' antipathy toward arts subsidies and their call for privatization of federal responsibilities. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photos.

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