"Der Rosenkavalier" or "Romeo and Juliet"

Civic Opera House

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In a Nutshell

Strauss’s comedic opera about fidelity and age featuring Amanda Majeski; Shakespearean tragedy in a production hailed by Chicago Tribune

The Fine Print

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The Deal

Der Rosenkavalier

Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier “glows with beauty.” At least that’s what the Chicago Tribune said of the Lyric’s production—but given the lighthearted tale of youthful love, “glow” is likely the best word. In this three-act piece, two couples take the spotlight: the aristocrat Marschallin and the much younger Count Octavian Rofrano, and Baron Ochs and Sophie, the young would-be fiancée of the Baron. Complications ensue, though, when the Count presents an engagement rose to Sophie on the Baron’s behalf and the two fall in love instead. What follows is a comically poignant exploration of fidelity, relationships, and the role age can play in both.

The story isn’t the only thing that glows in the Lyric’s production, though. Opera stars including Alice Coote, Amanda Majeski, and Christina Landshamer breathe melodic life into the German lyrics, and the orchestra’s 100 musicians commemorate everything from the sweeping moment when the lovers first meet to the exchange of their first texts.

Romeo and Juliet

Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl defy their families to be together: it’s not an unfamiliar story. What sets Romeo & Juliet apart is what happens next. It’s an ending that defies spoiler warnings—Sergei Prokofiev, Leonardo DiCaprio, and high-school literature teachers everywhere have made the finale famous—but knowing what’s coming doesn’t make it any less devastating. The double-suicide, brought about by bad luck, worse timing, and some faulty communication, becomes all the more tragic when you consider their ages: Juliet is just under 14, Romeo not much older.

That heartbreak, and the lush language that precedes it, is exactly what makes the masterpiece so unforgettable—but its countless adaptations haven’t hurt. In the Lyric’s take, the music of French composer Charles Gounod adds texture and stakes higher than the highest notes hit by Juliet (Susanna Phillips), while direction by Bartlett Sher makes “the characters feel more real, the dramatic situations closer to home,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Lyric Opera of Chicago

  • Founded: 1954
  • Home: Civic Opera House, a masterpiece of art deco and art nouveau design opened in 1929
  • Mission: to engage audiences with classic operas, lesser-known gems, and new works
  • Famous performers: Pavarotti, Maria Callas, dancer Rudolf Nureyev, Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, and Renée Fleming have all graced the stage

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