Eaton Opera Company | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Eaton Opera Company


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In his latest chamber operas University of Chicago composer John Eaton has taken on topical satires from disparate eras. Like his hugely entertaining Peer Gynt--which debuted three years ago in performances by the New York New Music Ensemble--Don Quixote, faithfully adapted from the Cervantes novel, is an "opera for instrumentalists": musicians not only play the instruments but act out the roles. In this instance the eponymous role is played by a clarinetist (Erik Mandat), his sidekick Sancho Panza by a flutist (Mary Stolper), and Dulcinea, the object of his quixotic quest, by a cellist (Craig Trompeter). With this work Eaton, whose distinctively spontaneous style mixes jazz and classical idioms, may have come up with a perfect vehicle for his "pocket" opera company. Golk, the other work on the double bill, is more conventionally cast: a quartet of vocalists sing the roles with a libretto by author Richard Stern, who wrote the novel on which the opera is based. A spoof of the intrusive powers of TV, Golk centers on the predicament of a producer who creates a Candid Camera-like show and gets into trouble when he zeros in on the U.S. president in a tryst. Baritone Scott Baeseman portrays Sidney Golk; his partners in parody are soprano Monica Harris, mezzo Stacia Spenser, and tenor Harold Brock. Nicholas Rudall, the longtime director at Court Theatre, makes his debut directing an opera. Barbara Schubert conducts. Thursday through next Saturday, June 8, 7:30 PM, auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; 663-1628. TED SHEN

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