The Northwest Indiana Times: (Michigan City, IN)-September 7, 2012
Author: Walter Skiba, Times Correspondent
Section: Style & Culture

A quartet of professional singers will return to International Friendship Gardens to perform 17 selections from seven operas. From left to right, Marta Johnson, pianist; Keven Keys, baritone; Kenneth Donovan, tenor; Janet Mensen Reynolds, mezzo-soprano; Rose Guccione, soprano.

Lyric Opera Season Highlights Return to International Friendship Gardens

Once again the beautiful Symphony Garden with its reflecting pool, dancing fountains and tall overhanging spruce trees becomes the setting for an afternoon of opera highlights.

A fine quartet of professional singers returns to International Friendship Gardens to perform 17 selections from seven operas (including Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”) in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2012-13 season. The program features selections from two works by Verdi, commemorating the bicentennial of his birth, “Rigoletto” and “Simon Boccanegra”; five pieces from Puccini’s “La Boheme”; one from Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale”; and two from Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.”

Less well-known is a “scena” or sequence of three numbers from Massenet’s “Werther.” According to narrator Charles DeWitt, the story (taken from the hugely popular novel by Goethe) is about a young poet who is in love with Charlotte and she with him. But can she go against the promise she made to her dying mother that she will marry someone else?

Thinking beyond surface details, DeWitt sees connections across the operas in their generally favorable treatment of fathers. Three examples are a father who is reunited with his daughter after a 25-year absence, a father who gets tipsy on his way home from a good day selling brooms at a market, and a father who loves his daughter but unknowingly takes steps that result in her death.

Mothers, unfortunately, are not so well depicted, DeWitt says. Of the two who appear in person, “one is a murderess, and the other sends her children into a forest which is haunted by a witch.”

The music always connects beyond the words.

If you go

WHAT: “Lyric in the Gardens” 2012-13 season preview concert (wine and refreshments available)

WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9

WHERE: International Friendship Gardens, US Hwy. 12, 1-1/2 mi. east of the junction of Rt. 35 on the north side of Michigan City. (In case of rain, the concert will be moved indoors.)

HOW MUCH: $25/$35