If you consider the ways that most of us experience classic Broadway musicals these days--i.e. in dinner-theater revivals with three-piece orchestras that include synthesizer and ukulele, or in enormous arenas where the singers wear body mikes and the orchestra is heard through tinny amplification--then the notion of an opera company tackling this uniquely American art form makes great sense. Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel is hardly an opera (it contains as much spoken dialogue as music), but it has many operatic elements, and this production should benefit substantially from what Chicago Opera Theater can bring to it. It's being presented with all of the trimmings of the original (1945) version: a 30-piece orchestra, fully choreographed dance sequences, and acting singers who have enough vocal projection to be clearly heard without mikes. COT's Alan Stone has assembled an impressive array of talent, including Louis Otey (who so charmed Lyric, audiences with his portrayal of Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus), Met principal Gweneth Bean, and conductor John McGlinn of recent Show Boat recording fame, among others. The rousing "Carousel Waltz" and such beautiful songs as "If I Loved You," "June Is Bustin' Out All Over," "Blow High, Blow Low," and "You'll Never Walk Alone" should be in the best of hands. At the Shubert Theatre, June 9 through 23 (22 W. Monroe, 800-233-3123). Wednesdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays and Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15-$38.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jennifer Girard.

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