Magazine article Opera Canada

Chicago

Magazine article Opera Canada

Chicago

Article excerpt

Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco received its first-ever local performances by Chicago Opera Theater in September. Sensibly marketed as Joan of Arc, Montreal-born Francesco Milioto conducted and the innovative David Schweizer directed. Reduced to two hours, with about 25 minutes eliminated, both Milioto and Schweizer insisted that nothing of consequence had been sacrificed, unlike the eponymous heroine. Joan herself is not burned at the stake, but dies, as in the Schiller play on which the libretto is based, from battlefield wounds. Schweizer further departed from conventional notions by staging the work as a play-within-a-play (a hoary conception these days) enacted by a religious sect on a totally bare stage. This was at odds with Verdi's Romantic music, of course, but the idea, once accepted, was not so bad as such things go and included some effective moments (the battle scene as a shadow play, the stake--though not used for Joan in the end--suggested by piled-up chairs of the sectarians). Milioto, who has already led a remarkable handful of rare operas in Chicago, reinforced his reputation with a traversal of Verdi's score that was at once idiomatic, sympathetic to singers and well paced, with especially fine woodwind playing amidst the clean orchestral sound. …

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