Hercules | Lyric Opera House | Classical | Chicago Reader

Hercules Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., March 4, 7:30 p.m., Mon., March 7, 7:30 p.m., Thu., March 10, 2 p.m., Sun., March 13, 2 p.m., Wed., March 16, 7:30 p.m., Sat., March 19, 7:30 p.m. and Mon., March 21, 7:30 p.m. 2011

She didn't get much attention before opening night, but English soprano Lucy Crowe is the single most compelling reason to get yourself a seat for Lyric Opera's new production of Handel's Hercules. Crowe, making her Chicago debut in the role of Hercules's prisoner of war and probable sex slave, Princess Iole, has a voice so stunning she dominates a dream cast of opera luminaries at the top of their form, including bass-baritone Eric Owens as a rigidly contained Hercules; mezzo-soprano Alice Coote as his mercurial wife, Dejanira; and countertenor David Daniels as their friend Lichas. Handel's 18th-century adaptation of a 2,500-year-old play by Sophocles (The Women of Trachis) is mostly arias, studded with vocal acrobatics performed at breakneck speed. But the action moves at a glacial pace: Hercules returns from war with the princess; Dejanira gets jealous and gives him a fatal gift; everything is repeated and repeated again, and then there's a happy ending. The set is as sparse as the music is ornate: ten broken pillars and a marble bench, augmented by projections and backlighting; costumes, including an orange Gitmo jumpsuit with a black hood a la Abu Ghraib, propel the story into the 21st century. Director Peter Sellars's take on the material is deeply earnest: he wants it to get us talking about the psychological burdens veterans carry home. He'll be giving preshow lectures, which start an hour before each performance, and he's the second most compelling reason to be there. See also Sunday and Wednesday; this production closes March 21. —Deanna Isaacs

Price: $33-$217

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