Chicago Opera Review: THE CONSUL (Chicago Opera Theater at the Studebaker Theater)

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by Lawrence Bommer on November 11, 2017

in Music,Theater-Chicago


Playing Chicago t0o briefly at the Studebaker Theatre, historically important and artistically wondrous, this co-production between Chicago and Long Beach Opera is a timely revival that taps into a constant injustice. Menotti’s inaugural offering from 1950, The Consul remains a stirring “cri de coeur.” Despite a sometimes densely imagistic libretto, it’s music to measure its observers’ humanity. It’s also a career-peaking tour de force for Patricia Racette as Magda Sorel, a wife and mother—and a doomed refugee in her own nation.

Seeking escape and encountering only befuddling bureaucracy “To this we’ve come: that men withhold the world from men,” she incarnates the struggles of millions. In contrast, Victoria Livengood’s hapless intercession as her anguished mother, Audrey Babcock’s tested indifference as the document-demanding secretary, and Justin Ryan’s fatal distraction as the politically-outlawed husband—these, and the death of a child, isolate Magda even more. We feel helpless to intervene, a paralysis Menotti hoped could yield to action.

Making a specific sorrow torturously universal, Andreas Mitisek’s staging allies with Kristof van Grysperre’s galvanic musical direction to create a pitiless spectacle. These 150 minutes are as current as the next border crossing or immigrant restriction. What blossomed in Los Angeles (see Stage and Cinema‘s review) finds full fruition in Chicago.

photos by Liz Lauren

The Consul
Chicago Opera Theater
Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave.
ends on November 12, 2017
for tickets, call 312.704.8414 or visit COT

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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