CHICAGO – Chicago’s historic Studebaker Theater will become the home of live opera with a contemporary adaptation of Henry Purcell’s 1692 “The Fairy Queen,” a reimagining of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” presented by Chicago Opera Theater (COT) beginning November 5. The California-based performance troupe Culture Clash and COT’s Andreas Mitisek put a modernized spin on Purcell’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic with an edgy and hilarious examination of the messes mere mortals make of relationships. “The Fairy Queen” will be performed at Chicago’s historic Studebaker Theater (410 S. Michigan Ave).
Ron and Tanya, known to some as Oberon and Titania, are preparing to throw a party to celebrate Ron’s birthday at ‘Club Puck’ in sultry Las Vegas. The party planning comes to halt when Tanya discovers Ron flirting with one of the club’s dancers. In a haphazard attempt to fix the blunder, Puck (the fiendish club owner) offers Ron a mysterious juice from a cactus flower to renew Tanya’s love. The concoction does as promised, but cupid’s arrow has missed its mark. The magic potion finds its way into several unwitting hands causing lovers’ eyes to wander, lines of sexual orientation to blur, and hilarious chaos to arise. Shakes, a drunken poet, stands readily by to trade his sonnets for drinks and give his unsolicited advice to the lost lovers.
The libretto, adapted from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is performed in English. “The Fairy Queen” will be conducted by Jory Vinikour and directed and production designed by Chicago Opera Theater’s Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director Andreas Mitisek.
“Audiences familiar with Purcell’s classic adaptation will be surprised and enchanted with this contemporary re-telling from the minds of the iconic Culture Clash,” said Mitisek. “This opera brings together a talented cast and Haymarket Opera Orchestra’s period instrumentation inside the historically rich and newly renovated Studebaker Theater to bring to life the story of the Fairy Queen once again.”
Together with Mitisek, COT’s contemporary adaptation of “The Fairy Queen” is written by Culture Clash, a California-based performance troupe founded by Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza, who have been writing and performing together for over 30 years. The award-winning group’s work ranges from comedic sketches to screenplays and full-length plays around political and social satire.
The orchestra for “The Fairy Queen” is composed of the Haymarket Opera Orchestra (HOO), hailed by the Chicago Tribune for work that “marries modern vivacity to period color and rhythmic subtlety.” Since its debut performances of Handel’s “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo” in 2011, HOO has been consistently praised as a premier ensemble and opera company, offering “breathtakingly precise” performances (Chicago Classical Music). HOO uses period instruments in performances, which consist of 17th and 18th century operas and oratorios.
The cast of “The Fairy Queen” includes Kim Jones in the role of Tanya/The Fairy Queen, Marc Molomot as club owner Puck, Cedric Berry as Ron, Roberto Gomez as Shakes the Poet, Ryan Belongie as Lysander, Scott Brunscheen as Demetrius, Alexandra Martinez as Helena, and Darryl Taylor as Herman.
Saturday, November 5, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, November 11, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 13, 3 p.m.
Tickets for “The Fairy Queen” ($39 -$125) can be purchased by calling 312.704.8414 or via chicagooperatheater.org.
Chicago Opera Theater’s season continues on February 18, 2017 with the world premiere of “The Invention of Morel.” “Morel” is composed by Stewart Copeland and is based on “La invención de Morel” by Adolfo Bioy Casares. It is COT’s first-ever commissioned opera. The season will close with the Chicago premiere of Philip Glass’ 2013 “The Perfect American,” a fictionalized biography of Walt Disney’s life told through the musical lens of Philip Glass, melding delusions of the American Dream, immortality, and an empire.
Stage Director and Production Design: Andreas Mitisek
Conductor: Jory Vinikour
Adaptation: Culture Clash and Andreas Mitisek
Orchestra: Haymarket Opera Orchestra
Jory Vinikour – Conductor
Vinikour made his debut as an operatic conductor on August 6, 2016 with West Edge Opera, located in Berkeley, California, in their production of Handel’s “Agrippina.” A native of Chicago, Vinikour is a two-time Grammy Award-nominated harpsichordist. He studied in Paris with Huguette Dreyfus and Kenneth Gilbert on a Fulbright Scholarship. Vinikour has won first place prizes at the International Harpsichord Competitions of Warsaw in 1993 and the Prague Spring Festival in 1994. He has appeared in festivals and concert series worldwide. His repertoire ranges from Bach to Poulenc and beyond. He has performed as a soloist with many leading orchestras and is well-known as an accompanist. Vinikour has accompanied many renowned artists such as David Daniels, Vivica Genaux and the legendary Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, as well as many others around the world.
He has appeared as a conductor and soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic, the Korea Chamber Orchestra, Juilliard415, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and many others. Vinikour has performed and appears regularly in opera houses and festivals in Europe, including the Paris Opera, the Netherlands Opera, Glyndebourne, and many more. He appeared in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Handel’s “Rinaldo.” In 2012, Vinikour directed the Korea Chamber Orchestra in an all-Bach program. He also co-directed, with violinist Monica Huggett, the Julliard415 Baroque Orchestra at the esteemed Carnegie Hall. Vinikour will direct John Blow’s “Venus and Adonis”, as well as Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” for the Florentine Opera.
Andreas Mitisek – Stage Director/Production Designer/Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director
A native of Austria, Mitisek has been the General Director of COT since June of 2012. He has also been Artistic and General Director of Long Beach Opera (LBO) since 2003. Mitisek has been named “Chicagoan of the Year for Classical Music” by the Chicago Tribune in 2014 and was selected as one of the “25 people that will be a major force in the field of opera in the coming decade” by Opera News.
He recently directed LBO’s “terrifingly authentic” (Los Angeles Times) “Fallujah” by Tobin Stokes in March of 2016. Mitisek was the stage director and designer for COT’s “Lucio Silla” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 2015. His other COT directing credits include “Macbeth” by Ernest Bloch, “Maria de Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzolla and “The Emperor of Atlantis & The Clever One” by Viktor Ullmann and Carl Orff. Ricky Ian Gordon’s “Orpheus and Euridice,” at the Welles Park Pool in 2013, was critically and publicly acclaimed. He is also a sought after guest conductor in North America. Mitisek is on the board of directors for OPERA AMERICA, the national service organization for U.S. opera companies.
About Chicago Opera Theater
Chicago Opera Theater is an innovative, nationally recognized opera company that inspires a diverse community through immersive and thought-provoking opera experiences. COT, established in 1974 by Alan Stone, is a founding resident company of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. General Director Andreas Mitisek is known for his adventurous repertory, visionary leadership, fundraising skills, and innovative audience-building initiatives.
Chicago Opera Theater has carved a significant place for itself in the operatic life of Chicago and has reached an audience of hundreds of thousands through its main stage performances, community engagement, education programs in Chicago Public Schools, as well as its renowned Young Artist Program.
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For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit www.chicagooperatheater.org.