When: Fri., Oct. 16, 8 p.m., Sat., Oct. 17, 8 p.m. and Sun., Oct. 18, 3 p.m. 2009
Chicago Opera Vanguard continues to define a unique and essential place for itself as a presenter of work that stretches the boundaries of music theater. Following up on last summer's staging of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Greek, the company has teamed up with Praxis Productions and the Center on Halsted to offer the Chicago debut of No Exit, Andy Vores's striking 2008 chamber opera based on the black comedy by Jean-Paul Sartre. Vores's English-language version compresses and intensifies the play, about three people whose predicament--they're locked in a room together--constitutes Sartre's vision of hell. While they try to figure out what sins condemned them to eternal damnation, they torment one another and themselves with their lies and lusts. Scored for viola, cello, clarinet, and percussion, Vores's complex, often slashing music compellingly underscores the characters' escalating psychological tension. Director George Cederquist, conductor Emanuele Andrizzi, and producer Eric Reda have assembled a superb young cast, including tenor Matthew Newlin as army deserter Joseph, soprano Susan Nelson as high-society adulteress Estelle, and powerhouse mezzo Caitlin McKechney as manipulative lesbian Inez.