Lyric stars sang gloriously at Grant Park

Eleven operatic stars from the Lyric Opera of Chicago sang gloriously and with thrilling beauty in the first concert at Grant Park Music Festival Saturday, accompanied by Lyric Opera Orchestra with Bruno Bartoletti, conductor and Donald Palumbo, director of the chorus.

The premiere event was sponsored by the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust and the Recording Industries Music Performance Trust Funds and Mayor Richard M. Daley and the City of Chicago.

What a great evening for music with thousands of people filling every seat, sitting in lawn chairs, on blankets and standing who provided standing ovations and thunderous applause!

Gorgeous voices vibrated with wonderful timbres with remarkable intensity as they sang many of opera's most famous arias.

Opening the evenings concert was the Overture from Gioachino Rossini's "La Cenerentola," with Bartoletti on the podium projecting a lush opulence from the orchestra.

Again from Rossini was Russell Braun's rendering of the Aria in Act I "Largo al factotum" from "Il barbiere di Siviglia" in which he was brilliant with articulate impetuosity.

A Georges Bizet duet, Act I: "Au fond du temple saint" from the "Les pecheurs de perles" featured Jerry Hadley and Bo Skovhus that brought excitement as they sang together.

Mezzo-soprano Felicity Palmer provided penetrating passion with her exquisite voice in elegant style as she sang "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix" from Camille Saint-Saen's "Samson et Dalila."

Next, the Lyric Opera Orchestra provided the audience with an interpretation of maestro Bartoletti's perception of the "Intermezzo" from Pietro Mascagni's "Cavalleria rusticana" that was combined with great delicacy, exquisite tone and intensity.

Hadley sang the Lamento from Act II: "E la solita storia" from Francesco Cilea's "L'arlesiana," while "Nemico della patria" an Act III aria from Andrea Chenier by Umberto Giordano, was presented with plenty of individual expression.

It was Vladimir Galouzine who gave the audience full-bodied tone and technical sovereignty with overwhelming emotions in the aria "Nessun dorma" from Act III of "Turandot" by Giacomo Puccini.

Before intermission, the Orchestra Chorus with Erin Wood as soloist provided for the audience that solemn Easter Hymn "Inneggiamo, il Signor non e morto" from Mascagni's "Cavalleria rusticana.

The chorus sang as one voice with a very carefully-measured spirituality as they progressed into the climax of the operatic hymn as the soloist sang wonderfully with her lustrous voice.

Bartoletti lifted his baton and coaxed from members of the orchestra a compelling virtuoso rendition of Giuseppe Verdi's "Nubucco" Overture. It was packed with fierce gusto, perfect balance and rich, sonorous tones.

It was an overwhelming outcry of anguish in "Pace, pace, mio Dio!" from "Laforza del destino" by Verdi released from the soul of Katarina Dalayman.

Michael Hendrick and Palmer gave the audience a great, dramatic power, a total kind of expression in Verdi's duet "Ai nostri monti" from Act IV of his "Il trovatore."

In fact, the entire second half of the concert consisted of arias by Verdi. Again, the chorus in Act III of "Nabucco" - "Va pensiero" was fabulous. Elizabeth Futral followed with the Aria form Act I of "Rigoletto" Gualtier Malde! ... Caro nome."

The Quartet, Act III: "Un di, se ben rammentomi, Bella figlia dell'amore" as performed by Elizabeth Futural, Nancy Maultsby, Hadley and Nikolai Putilin had vocal precision and vitality.

Usually the timbre in soloist voices are often too strong to blend, however, it was different with this quartet. They communicated together as one.

Skovhus sang "Don Carlos'" Recitative and Scene, Act IV: "C'est moi, Carlos, C'est monjour, Carlos, enclute."

Love flowed with a herculean spirit as Elizabeth Futral and Hadley sang the duet in Act I: "Libiamo nelieti calici" from "Latraviata" for the finale of Lyric Opera Concert in Grant Park.

Earl CallowayChicago Defender