Du Page Opera Theatre | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Du Page Opera Theatre

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The 1916 Prague production of Leos Janacek's third opera, Jenufa, put the Czech composer on the musical map and turned him into a national hero at the age of 62. It's easy to see why: the tragedy of misdirected love between stepdaughter and stepmother unfolds in a style best described as peasant realism, which contrasted starkly with the heart-on-the-sleeve melodramas and sweeping Wagnerian legends of the time. What makes the opera so moving, of course, is Janacek's highly expressive score, with its exotic patterning of timbres and rhythms, its long swells and sudden crises of harmony. When sung in the original Czech, the inflections accentuate the music's emotional overtones, but this DuPage Opera Theatre revival, alas, is in English. Nevertheless the cast features an exceptionally large number of local up-and-comers, including lyric soprano Denise Finneran (in the title role), dramatic soprano Melanie Tomasz (as her stepmother), and tenor Eric Perkins (as Laca, the cousin in love with Jenufa). Timothy Troy, a Milwaukee-based director, is in charge of staging; Harold Bauer, DuPage's veteran maestro, conducts a pickup orchestra and chorus. Saturday, 8 PM, Sunday, 7 PM, and Wednesday and next Friday and Saturday, July 15 and 16, 8 PM, Arts Center, College of DuPage, 22nd and Lambert, Glen Ellyn; 708-858-3110.

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