“Bel Canto” is a world premiere to remember
By: Dawnette Chambers
The world premiere of “Bel Canto” is the seventh world premiere by the Lyric Opera, but the first of its kind in ten years for the Chicago opera company – and the orchestra and cast left it all on the stage. The production was, in a single word, riveting. From the time the curtain raised to the moment the cast took their final bow, the audience was on the edge of their seats. The music was based on a modern opera had never been recorded, with music featured from several different languages including: Spanish, English, Japanese, Russian, German, French, Latin and Quechua.
“Bel Canto” is based on the best-selling novel by Ann Patchett. The production is directed by Kevin Newbury. Both the novel and the opera are inspired by the Peruvian hostage crisis of 1996-97.
World renown soprano Danielle de Niese stars as the American opera diva Roxane Coss, performing at a diplomatic gathering in Lima when terrorists invade. The ensuing hostage situation becomes a siege when government forces surround the compound. After unsuccessful negotiations, the audience see weeks turn into months while unexpected alliances form between captors and captives. All the while, Coss’ singing serves as a powerful, humanizing force.
Even without having read the novel, this opera stands out. “Bel Canto’s” debut comes at a time in earth’s history which reminds us that in the midst of terrorism and unimaginable suffering down the street, across the country and around the world, there is always music and with music, love. Two things that can overcome the horrors of injustice.
“Bel Canto” can and has sparked those discussions, starting with the post talk after the opening night on Dec. 7. With only three more performances before the second semester starts, be inspired, compelled and captivated by “Bel Canto.”