What a way to kick off the CSO’s Shakespeare celebration – Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet is not an opera, but last night, it sure felt as if I was listening to one, especially with the great vocals of Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova and bass Dmitry Belosselskiy, in combination with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Belosselskiy was especially impressive when he made his appearance in Part 3 – I don’t think I’ve ever heard such sound fill and resonate in Symphony Center as much as his powerful voice last night (then again, I was sitting in the terrace, which is where he was also singing, so that might have something to do with it…). I heard Belosselskiy sing in Nabucco earlier this year as Zaccaria, and I was glad that he was back in Chicago to sing the role of Friar Laurence. In fact, there were many opera dignitaries present last night, including my awesome teacher and General Director of Lyric Opera, Anthony Freud (I’ll post later on this week’s class), and famed mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. It’s so cool being able to see all of these people, and I’m sure the same will happen at the opening of Falstaff in two weeks.
This concert also marked Maestro Muti’s return to the Chicago podium! He conducted (as usual) with an incredibly sharp precision to detail that was more noticeable to me this time around, due to the fact that I could see him from the front by sitting in the terrace. He knows the score inside and out and just totally immerses himself in the music while simultaneously directing so many individuals on stage. The way he communicates with the orchestra musicians, the chorus, and the soloist singers is really something that I just don’t see from other conductors, which is why I always love going to his concerts. And the fact that Berlioz’s masterpiece is more operatic in nature (it did inspire Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde) made it really cool because Muti is primarily known for his work in opera and to finally see, live in concert, his legendary operatic conducting skills and how he closely works with singers (even though this wasn’t an actual opera) made this an incredible experience. Although I wasn’t following along with the text in the program book, it was easy to feel the drama in Shakespeare’s well-known story through the CSO’s expressive playing of Berlioz’s grand music.
Now I’m off to physics class (learning about sound waves today, which does connect to all this music stuff 😀 ).