Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicago Tribune: “OPERA REVIEW 'Hercules' 4 STARS”; “bass-baritone Eric Owens, born to sing the role”

[Dejanira played by Alice Coote and Hercules played by Eric Owens sing during the Lyric Opera of Chicago's dress rehearsal of George Frideric Handel's "Hercules" at the Civic Opera House. (Heather Charles/ Chicago Tribune / March 2, 2011)]

Chicago Tribune
March 6, 2011
Director Peter Sellars employs Handel to explore awful truths of war's aftermath today
John von Rhein Classical music critic
“This isn't just a brilliant conclusion to the season. The new production of Handel's "Hercules" at Lyric Opera of Chicago goes well beyond that. It could be an important springboard for a renewed civic and, indeed, national conversation about issues concerning America's war veterans, issues many people would just as soon sweep under a rug. What happens to these soldiers when they return home, bringing their post-traumatic stress with them? Having turned off their emotions for combat, how do they turn them back on with the family and friends they left behind? The answer, in director Peter Sellars' thoughtful and enthralling new production, which opened Friday night at the Civic Opera House, is they don't. And this can spell disaster.”

“The conquering general Hercules (bass-baritone Eric Owens, born to sing the role) knew who he was on the battlefield but doesn't have a clue who he is in his own home. The war hero has brought back as his trophy a beautiful princess named Iole (British soprano Lucy Crowe, a major discovery indeed). Dejanira, Hercules' devoted wife (British mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, in a riveting performance), suspects Iole is his concubine. Locked in his visions of past glories, Hercules won't, or can't, explain his bizarre, withdrawn behavior.

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