Thursday, December 14, 2017

Seattle Opera's Wagner and More Group Takes Chicago by Storm

Signs outside Lyric Opera of Chicago, advertising upcoming performances.

Wagner and More, Seattle Opera’s social group for opera lovers, recently took a trip to Chicago to take in some great opera, theater, music, and art. The group also went on a behind-the-scenes tour of Chicago Lyric’s Die Walküre set, caught a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance of Schubert, and more. This WAM group really knows how to pack in the artistic and theatrical fun (while also leaving enough time to catch the Seahawks game).

Check out their itinerary below, and consider joining up! WAM has plenty of local events (about 16 per year), and their next trip is gearing up for the Ring Cycle at San Francisco Opera in June.

WAM Members Rachael Schneider, Marilyn and Jean Schweitzer, Bill Etnyre, Megan Pursell and Stephen Sprenger enjoying the mild Chicago winter.

Friday began with a brilliant lecture by Sue Elliott (Seattle Opera’s former Director of Education), followed by a backstage tour at Chicago Lyric. Later in the day, Chicago Lyric’s General Director, Anthony Freud, an old friend of Seattle Opera General Director Aidan Lang’s, greeted the group before a lovely dinner in the exclusive Pederson Room at the Lyric Opera house.

The crown jewel of the trip, Die Walküre, featured Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde and Brandon Jovanovich, a former Seattle Opera young artist and mainstage performer, as Sigmund.  This was a new production, following last year’s Das Rheingold. The setting was Wagner’s time—late-nineteenth century.    

Wigs from Die Walküre from the backstage tour at Lyric Opera Chicago.

Saturday the group had some free time, then went to the famous Steppenwolf Theatre for The Minutes, a compelling play by Tracy Letts, that starts off as a small-town comedy, and then morphs into a magical-realism tragedy.  

That evening they basked in the music of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, doing Schubert.

Maestro Manfred Honeck conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Schubert’s 9th Symphony.

On Sunday, after navigating the Bears-Packers traffic, the group attended a docent’s tour of the Field Museum, then to Chicago Opera Theater, for The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti, which was done at Seattle Opera a few years ago. This production featured Patricia Racette as Magda (she performed Seattle Opera’s Cio-Cio-San six years ago), and Victoria Livengood as the mother (she was the mother in Katya last year). (One of the WAM members got a chance to chat with her at the airport the next day.)  The group was hosted in their Donor Lounge by the president of their Board, Susan Irion. 

The Minutes by Tracy Letts at Steppenwolf Theatre.

For the grand finale, they dined at the elegant Coco Pazzo, where they were joined by two musicians from the Lyric orchestra.  They returned to Seattle on Monday, tired from the whirlwind tour, but also happy and inspired.

WAM president Dick Gemperle with wife Marybeth, Jean and Marilyn Schweitzer, Jana Hollingsworth, Margaret Ohashi, Cathryn Brite and Bill Etnyre at Die Walküre  at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

WAM attendees: Cathy Brite, Bill Etnyre, Gail Gazda, Dick and Mary Beth Gemperle, Janet Graeber, Jana Hollingsworth, Margaret Ohashi, Megan Purcell, Rachel Schneider, Jean Stark, Jean Schweitzer, Stephen Sprenger, and Moya Vazquez. Seattle Opera staff: General Director Aidan Lang, Director of Development Lisa Bury, and Senior Individual Giving Officer Tracy Reich.