Lyric Opera Center for American Artists | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Lyric Opera Center for American Artists

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When the copyright on Bizet's Carmen expired in the late 70s, a flurry of revivals appeared with revisionist spins on the original that might not have met the approval of Bizet's estate. Among them, Peter Brook's La Tragedie de Carmen, first staged in Paris in 1981, omits the chorus and all the supernumeraries. Essentially a character study in one act--its 80 minutes come considerably short of the original's three and a half hours--this Carmen focuses much of its energies on the destructive passion between the unscrupulous seductress and her lovestruck lover Don Jose, but the story is still told through Bizet's penetrating arias and (abridged) orchestral score. This presentation by Lyric Opera's Center for American Artists retains almost all of the British director's staging: costumes and sets are duplicated and, as in the Paris production, the singers share the stage with a 15-member orchestra. It's almost a showcase of the center's class of 1993: in the double cast are mezzo-sopranos Terese Fedea and Eleni Matos (as Carmen), tenors Patrick Denniston and Roy Cornelius Smith (as Don Jose), sopranos Elizabeth Koch and Beverly Thiele (as Micaela), and Baritones Victor Benedetti and Elias Mokole (as the toreador Escamillo). Andrew Foldi, the center's new head, directs. The performances in Grant Park this weekend will be conducted by Randall Behr, who did the same eight years ago in New York. Barbara Schubert will conduct next weekend's performances at the University of Chicago. Tomorrow and Sunday, 8 PM, Petrillo Music Shell, Jackson and Columbus, 332-2244; next Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, Hutchinson Courtyard, 57th and University, 702-8484.

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