Jason | Harris Theater | Classical | Chicago Reader

Jason Soundboard Recommended

When: Sat., April 24, 7:30 p.m., Wed., April 28, 7:30 p.m., Fri., April 30, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., May 2, 3 p.m. 2010

Sometimes when work lies neglected for, say, a couple centuries, there's a good reason. Francesco Cavalli's Jason ("Giasone") made its debut in Venice in 1649, became one of the most popular operas of the 17th century, and then fell into nearly complete obscurity. Chicago Opera Theater has resurrected this artifact from opera's infancy as the first installment in a three-year trilogy of works about the sorceress Medea, giving it a musically impeccable production, with great performances by the entire cast—most notably mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (Medea) and countertenor Franco Fagioli (Jason)—and accompaniment by Chicago's Baroque Band, an impressive ten-piece ensemble of period instruments conducted here by Christian Curnyn. But what they have to work with is a score that mostly ranges from pleasingly delicate to tedious and a piece-of-fluff libretto that's closer to commedia dell'arte than it is to the legend of the murderous momma and the golden fleece. The costumes, sets, and stage direction catapult the story into the 1960s, apparently aiming for James Bond but landing on Hairspray. That's unfortunate: time travel is a directorial cliche, and Jason is primarily interesting as a piece of Baroque history. It looks more desperate than hip dressed up as Pussy Galore. —Deanna Isaacs

Price: $30-$120

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