Opera Boffo! | Performing Arts Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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The Lyric Opera appears to have been taken over by the staff of TV Guide. In this year's subscription brochure, the Lyric's 1995-'96 season is described in prose usually reserved for hyping new sitcoms or video releases of Michael J. Fox movies.

Susan Mathieson, director of marketing and communications for the Lyric, says the synopses are meant to convert people who don't understand the inherent intrigue of operatic tales. "Opera stories are fascinating, filled with love and passion and vengeance and treachery. All those things that you have in life or in movies or whatever. Do I specifically sit down and try to write this like a movie review? No, I try to get across how exciting and interesting the stories are."

This can't hurt from a marketing standpoint since, according to Mathieson, "there's a new generation coming who know that opera is not for the elite. It's for everybody who loves music and singing." Here are some examples of what brave new operagoers will see next season. Hang on for the ride of your life!

Xerxes by George Frideric Handel

"The king of Persia's got trouble with his love life--and when the king has problems, everyone has problems!"

Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi

"Here is the thrilling tale of a buccaneer turned statesman who finally reconciles with his mortal enemy--and the remarkable woman who makes it happen!"

Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti

"Here's madcap merriment that will have you laughing from the moment the curtain goes up! The well-aged Don decides to marry a much younger woman, but finds that wedded bliss isn't all it's cracked up to be--especially when the former Miss Sweetness and Light suddenly becomes Mrs. Spend to Excess--and she's mean too!"

The Makropulos Affair by Leos Janacek

"Icy but alluring, Emilia Marty is a prima donna with a very long and mysterious past. In fact, she has lived many lives, kept eternally young by a wondrous elixir invented by her father more than 370 years ago! But the formula has been lost--and her time is running out in this edge-of-your-seat operatic thriller!"

Faust by Charles Gounod

"The prize is renewed youth and the love of a fair maiden--but the price is eternal damnation and heartache for everyone he touches. Faust learns too late that when you deal with the devil, you lose on a monumental scale."

Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"He's courageous, he's outrageous, and the ladies flock to his side like moths to a flame. But when opera's ultimate bad boy adds blasphemy to his long list of sins--he's bound to burn in hell!"

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration/Tony Griff.

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