This week, Chicago's being treated to dueling performances of Mozart by the city’s two major opera companies.
At Lyric Opera, it's a new production of a familiar favorite, The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Chicago Shakespeare's Barbara Gaines. At Chicago Opera Theater, a rare production of Lucio Silla, with COT general director Andreas Mitisek directing.
If you like Mozart, it's a minifestival—complementary performances of the prodigy's adolescent and mature work.
If not, well, it's a lot of repetition.
For the fan of Mozart's unfailingly beautiful music, these are two strong productions that play off each other in interesting ways. One (Figaro) is a comedy, the other (Silla) a drama. One is sumptuous, the other striking. Both stories are about a powerful ruler with a yen for a woman who’s in love with someone else. Both have women singing roles originally written for castrati. And—with a little wiggle room for the difference in resources—both offer fine ensemble work by the featured singers, bolstered by an excellent chorus and orchestra. At Lyric, Henrik Nanasi conducts the Lyric Opera orchestra and chorus; at COT, the Apollo Chorus and the Chicago Philharmonic are led by Francesco Milioto.
In each production, there's also a dominant element: at Lyric, it's Susan Mickey’s vivid, Mozart-in-Vegas costumes; at COT, it's soprano Maeve Hoglund's standout performance as Giunia, the object of Silla's unwanted affection.
Lucio Silla has two more performances at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph), tonight at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 3 PM; Figaro continues at the Civic Opera House (20 N. Wacker) through October 24.