Opera Factory | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Opera Factory


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The zarzuela, a folk opera still wildly popular in Spanish-speaking countries, hit a new height in craftsmanship a century ago when Tomas Breton's La verbena de la paloma premiered in Madrid. Never mind the slight plot; the music is delightful and fiery and the lyrics are amusingly sardonic. It's easily the most familiar of all zarzuelas and a favorite of Placido Domingo, whose parents were zarzuela troupers. The action moves fairly swiftly toward a climax at the Festival of Our Lady of the Dove--hence the title--in which Julian, the lovely Susana's jilted boyfriend, confronts the elderly Don Hilarion, her ardent suitor, and a big brawl ensues. For its authenticity-minded revival the Opera Factory has added three Spanish dance numbers, including a flamenco, in keeping with the zarzuela tradition. Opera Factory regulars Donna Sadlicka, Roberto Sapier, and Paul Koch portray the romantically entangled leads, singing in Spanish and speaking in English. Sapier, who's sung and acted in zarzuelas since his childhood in Latin America, directs; the Lyric Opera's Richard Boldrey is the maestro; and handling the choreography is Jorge Niedas, a flamenco veteran. Friday, Saturday, and next Saturday, May 14, 8 PM, and next Sunday, May 15, 3 PM, Angel Guardian Theatre, 2001 W. Devon; 761-1334.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jennifer Girard.

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