Thursday, June 12, 2014

Announcing Our 2015 Season!

This season will prove to be one of intrigue, deceit, and incredible music! In true COT form, we are making 2015 an entire season of Chicago premieres! Without further ado, we present to you:

Thérèse Raquin
Tobias Picker 

Feb 20, 22, 25, 28

Thérèse, trapped in an unhappy marriage, engages in an affair with her husband's best friend. Their passion compels them to commit a crime that will haunt them forever. The score is riveting (and intense!) and the 21st century opera is based on the 19th century novel by Emile Zola.

A Coffin in Egypt
Ricky Ian Gordon
Apr 25, 29, May 1, 3

Celebrated mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade stars in this role written for her by the man who brought you the pool version of Orpheus and Euridice! 90 -year-old grand dame Myrtle Bledsoe reflects on a life of missed opportunities, broken dreams, and a family of liars and murderers. 

Lucio Silla
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sep 26, 30, Oct 2, 4

What were you doing when you were 16? Mozart was writing this opera! When tyrannical dictator Silla is denied the heart of the woman he desires, he commits his power to force matters in his favor. He soon discovers that his are not the only conspiracies lurking in the streets of Rome. 

We are so excited for this season! All of our shows this year are back at the Harris Theater on Randolph, and tickets and subscriptions are on sale now!

Check out our website for more information!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Merle Reskin Theatre

What better place to stage historically significant shows than in a beautiful century-old theater in the middle of the city? That is exactly what COT is doing for our upcoming double bill show! We're switching it up from our usual theater for Emperor of Atlantis/ The Clever One and we couldn't be more excited about it.

 Since its opening on New Year's Eve of 1910, the Blackstone Theatre (now DePaul's Merle Reskin Theatre), has housed award winning shows, Chicago premieres, and one particularly scandalous play about venereal disease.

When you step inside this 6 floor theater  you are almost immediately transported to another time. The ornate ceilings and plush red carpets and seats affirm that yes, you are in a historic play house and yes, you are going to see something fabulous.

The view from the stage, however, is perhaps the most breathtaking. On the dusty black stage, even midday when the seats aren't filled with excited patrons and the rows of lights overhead are dark, you feel as though you yourself are a part of the rich and varied history of the Chicago theater scene. From the stage, you can see up into the sixth floor balcony, to the "nosebleed" sections that aren't very far away at all. You can see the full scope of the brilliant ceiling, and the ornate decorations on the boxes, and almost into history itself. This is the stage that the Stratford-upon-Avon players walked, that saw the work of George Bernard Shaw, that triumphed through the introduction of talkies in 1928, the stock market crash of 1929, and the rise of television since. As the audiences looked on, this stage watched history unfold.

See another important part of history take this stage this Saturday at 7:30, as we bring you Viktor Ullmann's The Emperor of Atlantis and Carl Orff's The Clever One.

Buy your tickets here!

Parking and other information here!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Join Us At The Movies!

You didn't expect us to stop at just one night of opera hilarity did you? In addition to our ludicrous double bill show The Emperor of Atlantis/ The Clever One, we want to see you at our Viewpoints events! Both of these one-act operas offer a satirical take on dictatorship and oppression, but Ullmann and Orff weren't the only ones poking fun at der Führer.

To Be Or Not To Be
1942, Ernst Lubitsch

Maria: “Oh, you want me to be a spy!”
Siletsky: “Oh, now, come, come, come, that’s rather a crude word.”
Maria: “You know, I once played a spy. It was a great success, I had wonderful notices. It was really an exciting part!”

This film is one of the first of its kind to satirize Hitler and the Nazis. Carole Lombard and Jack Benny star in this cleverly comical tale of a Polish theater troupe who are put out of business by the Nazis and must resort to espionage.

Trivia: When Jack Benny's father went to see this movie, he was outraged at the sight of his son in a Nazi uniform in the first scene and even stormed out of the theater. Jack convinced his father that it was satire, and he agreed to sit through all of it

Join us at Facets Multi-Media on Sunday, May 18 at noon for this showing!


The Great Dictator
1940, Charlie Chaplin

Commander Shutz: Strange, and I thought you were an Aryan.
A Jewish barber: No. I'm a vegetarian

"This is a story of a period between two World Wars - an interim in which Insanity cut loose. Liberty took a nose dive, and Humanity was kicked around somewhat."
Charlie Chaplin's first "talkie"! This satirical and controversial work was released before the United States's officially entry into WWII. Charlie Chaplin took advantage of his resemblance to Adolf Hitler when he made this film, which spotlights a satirical dictator whose demise is brought about by a Jewish barber who bears a likeness to the tyrannical leader.

Trivia: This film's mockery of Hitler got it banned in Spain, Italy and neutral Ireland.

See this slapstick comedy Sunday, June 1 at noon at the Music Box Theatre!

Get your tickets here, and stick around after each of these films for a sneak peek at our double bill!

Monday, May 5, 2014

40th Anniversary Gala Recap

A little over a week later, Chicago Opera Theater has made a full recovery after an exciting and successful gala (organizations don't recuperate well after a night of festivity when they're 40 years old).

Joking aside, it really was a wonderful night. The City Winery is such a beautiful space and it was great to be back this year. The wooden barrels of wine and the sunlight streaming through the tall windows were enough to almost make us forget that we weren't in wine-country in summertime, rather than the middle of a busy city.

We had some incredible performances from our Young Artists (and some intense piano work on the part of COT's Director of Musical Studies Scott Gilmore), including Cosi fan Tutte, Bottom's aria from Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a sassy duet from Rossini's Viaggio a Reims. Playing alongside these dynamic voices was a presentation of photos from our past 4 decades of productions.

Our COT for Teens Students!
Just when we thought that the entertainment couldn't get any better, our COT for Teens students gave a fantastic performance of Verdi’s Va pensiero. Two of our students gave testimonials of how our youth education programs have affected their lives and helped them find their voice. Anais, a Solorio Academy student read her letter: “Not only has this program improved our musical abilities, but also improved our confidence… This experience will stick with us throughout our years.” It was incredible to hear their stories.

Although not technically part of the entertainment, the live auction was a blast. One of our live auction prizes was a supernumerary role in our upcoming production of Macbeth, and we were surprised and delighted when we had to create two extra roles due to the enthusiastic demand of our bidders. We're looking forward to seeing all three of them on stage in our fall production.  All of our departments took turns modeling the gorgeous Tiffany ring for the raffle, and it was only a little difficult to give it up to the winner, long-time patrons and gala attendees Peter and Lucy Ascoli.

Chicago Opera Theater raised a record amount the night of the gala, 10 current or former COT young artists performed, 22 COT for Teens high school students from Solorio and Gallery 37 performed, and we showcased 40 years of COT history, which included 129 productions, 37 Chicago premieres, and 26 American operas.

Of course none of those things could have been possible without you, our fabulous supporters. It is only thanks to you that we have the extraordinary history we do, and an incredibly bright future ahead of us. American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it, nothing great was ever achieved." So thank you for your unceasing enthusiasm, dear patrons. We look forward to the next 40 years and beyond.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Visual History

With our gala a little over a week away, everyone in the COT office is busy getting ready for the celebration. We're making calls, editing the program, rehearsing the entertainment, putting together presentations, and only occasionally getting distracted by the idea of a vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands (one of our auction items!). 

One of the more exciting things we're doing in preparation for the gala is going through the archives. We're digitizing old production photos, playbills, and past event photos. It's a pretty big job- we have over 7000 35mm slides alone! 

In the digging through drawers and scanning in stacks of programs, we've come across some really phenomenal stuff. It's fascinating to go through the 40 years of archives. There's something to get excited about whether you're a history buff, a theater enthusiast, a typography nerd, or just love crazy costumes.  

Program from The Marriage of Figaro (1977) / Don Pascale, our first show at the Athenaeum (1978) / Our founder Alan Stone at one of our Bal Masques / Another Bal Masque/ Our very first program! Cosi Fan Tutte (1974) / Where the Wild Things Are (1991) / A program from our 10th Anniversary Season (1984) / Viaggio (2004) / Bal Masque. These costumes were seriously the best.

For more amazing photos, make sure you're following our Facebook page!  We're posting a few times a day this month with archival photos.

 Do you have your tickets yet for our 2014 Gala? It's not too late!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

40th Anniversary Gala

Chicago Opera Theater has enjoyed an incredible 4 decades of bringing new and rare opera to the Windy City, and we want you to celebrate with us!

 We love to celebrate every year with our COT Family, but this year is a little different because we are turning the big 4-0!

You're invited to join us Thursday, April 24th at Chicago’s City Winery for an unforgettable evening! From the moment the evening begins, you’ll be enchanted by the City Winery’s beautiful rustic interior and exposed wooden beams, or step out to the outside balcony where your glass of chardonnay catches the evening sun. Chat with old friends and make new ones as you enjoy a wonderful gourmet dinner before you sit back and let us delight you with a stunning live performance by rising opera stars! Our repertoire this year is a tribute to the past 40 years- a new generation of opera singers will be performing songs from COT productions from 1974 to today (we have 119 productions to choose from!). 

From our 2013 Gala!

As the night goes on, you can try your luck and enter the raffle to win a gorgeous Tiffany diamond-cluster ring, or participate in the live auction and win a week stay in a private villa in the U.S. Virgin Islands or a role in our upcoming production of Macbeth.
Join us for a festive night where we remember the past, enjoy the present, and toast to the future of Chicago Opera Theater!

Visit our website here to order your tickets online!

Have questions or want to order your gala tickets over the phone? Call Cornelius Bouknight at 312.704.8420 x214 or by email at

Missed our last post about History Month?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

History Month

From now until our 40th Anniversary Gala, we're focusing on our story. Forty years is quite the anniversary, and we're really excited to have been a part of the wonderful eclectic experimental mix that is Chicago opera for the past four decades.

How We Began:

Our first show! Cosi fan tutte, 1974.
Our little opera company was founded in 1974; Nixon was resigning, "Band On The Run" was a number one hit, the Post-It Note was invented, and Chicago Opera Theater began our first season with Mozart's Così fan tutte (which we have staged three more times since). Two years later, Artistic Director Alan Stone made the risky decision to stage an American opera by Virgil Thompson and Gertrude Stein. The Mother of Us All sold out and Chicago Opera Theater has since been proud to bring new and rare works to the Windy City.

What We've Become:

Our Pool opera! Orpheus & Euridice, 2013
We've held fast to the idea of Opera Less Ordinary; having produced more than 35 Chicago premieres and over 24 American operas. Under the guidance of General Director Brian Dickie from 2000 to 2012, we became a nationally recognized opera company and established COT as an advocate for 17th, 18th, and 20th century works. In 2012, Andreas Mitisek became our General Director and brought with him a renewed passion for new and rare works, presented beautifully not only on stages but in swimming pools, parking garages, and warehouses.

How We're Celebrating:

Our most recent show! Queenie Pie, 2014

Our 2014 season is called "Illusions/Delusions",
and we're describing it as "a diverse and provocative journey into how we all create our own realities". So far, we've been excited to bring to Chicago Duke Ellington's jazz opera Queenie Pie, and are looking ahead to our Double Bill show Viktor Ullmann/ Carl Orff's The Emperor of Atlantis/ The Clever One, and our fall show (and a Chicago premiere) Ernest Bloch's Macbeth.

Our Gala is Thursday, 24 April at City Winery, and we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate forty years of fantastic opera than with gourmet food, wine tastings, and lively entertainment.

And Finally:

It is impossible to look back without remembering the wonderful patrons and supporters we've had since the beginning. Without you, the ones who fill our theaters and bring along a hunger for the new and innovative, who invite your friends to shows and support us with donations, these past forty years would not have been possible. So, we thank you, friends, and as we remember our history, we look ahead to our exciting future.