Virtual Opera: TWILIGHT: GODS (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

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by Tony Frankel on July 28, 2021

in Music,Theater-Chicago


Leave it to Yuval Sharon (pronounced you-vahl sha-rhone). I’ve seen all of the L.A.-born wunderkind’s Los Angeles productions, and this opera re-thinker stages better and with more imagination than most opera directors combined. I found a few of his pieces musically inaccessible, but man oh man, can this cat create visual splendor in unconventional spaces, such as moving vehicles, operating train stations, and a warehouse. (See reviews of Song of the Earth; A Trip to the Moon; Hopscotch; Invisible Cities; Crescent City.)

Christine Goerke
Catherine Martin

During the COVID shutdown, Sharon created a drive-in experience, a site-specific, radical re-imagining of Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung — the Twilight of the Gods — which played in parking lots in Detroit (the Detroit Opera House) and Chicago (Lyric Opera at the Millennium Lakeside Parking Garage). Named Twilight: Gods, the latter production was turned into a 70-minute film, conceived and directed by Raphael S. Nash, who captured every aspect of Sharon’s immersive drive-through opera experience and transformed it into a compelling digital feature, now available to watch on demand until October 29, 2021 for free by registering at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The new film features live performances, videos, and installations brought to life by singers, instrumental groups, and actors in a story that is recontextualized to its time and place. You will also find when you register a program and unique stories behind the production.

Students of the Joffrey Academy of Dance

Inspired as much by the brutal utilitarianism of the parking facility as the safety precautions of the coronavirus era, Twilight: Gods transforms Wagner’s six-hour masterpiece into an hour-long series of dioramic scenes performed in intervals throughout the Parking Center. Equal parts drive-in theater and opera house event, Twilight: Gods gave audience members the opportunity to watch Wagner’s drama unfold scene-by-scene from the safety of their cars, while the live performance (sung in English) was broadcast to car stereos — a full immersion in the world of the Ring.

Donnie Ray Albert and Morris Robinson
Catherine Martin with Lyric Opera Orchestra musician

This experiential operatic production — conceived, directed, and with new English translations by Sharon, plus original narrative poetry by Chicago interdisciplinary artist avery r. young — stars soprano Christine Goerke/Brünnhilde, mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin/Waltraute, tenor Sean Panikkar/Siegfried, bass Morris Robinson/Hagen, and baritone Donnie Ray Albert/Alberich. Three current Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members portray the Rhinemaidens — soprano Maria Novella Malfatti; mezzo-soprano Katherine Beck, and mezzo-soprano Kathleen Felty — with music from members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra.

Maria Novella Malfatti, Katherine Beck & Kathleen Felty
Sean Panikkar

“Lyric’s production was one of the most experimental and collaborative projects this company has ever imagined and executed,” says Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director, president & CEO. “We are delighted to now have another unique life for the production, created expressly for film viewing, to share the experience of the work with an unlimited audience.”

Morris Robinson
avery r. young

photos by Kyle Flubacker

Donnie Ray Albert

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