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Concert Tue Aug 14 2012

Opera for the Masses

By Robert O'Connor

Opera is not the most accessible or popular art form, which is too bad, since its creators intended it to appeal to everyone. Its power is lost on most audiences since it is usually in a language they don't know, and tickets for just one concert at the Lyric Opera can cost as much as $200.

The American Chamber Opera, based in Chicago, is trying to change that, with productions in English of popular operas for a much lower price. It started its season last weekend with a performance of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni.

The ACO performs the opera in the Sanctuary of the Chicago Temple Building, without a set or props. They use the space effectively, with characters walking down the aisle, entering in the back and hiding under the front pew.

David Goversten, a Chicago native and graduate of Northwestern plays Don Giovanni, the cocksure, boisterous libertine whose assistant Leporello (Vince Wallace) says in a famous aria has slept with 1,003 Spanish women. The opera tells of his conquests of women and how it all comes back to haunt him. Before the show, the audience is given a brief talk on how the opera was autobiographical for both the man who wrote the music and wrote the words. Both Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte were notorious womanizers. Don Giovanni was written after Mozart's father and teacher, Leopold, died, and he wrote a tragedy in the form of Don Giovanni to express his despair. It wasn't to symbolize his father as a demon, as the play and film Amadeus says.

Goverstein is a good and boisterous Don Giovanni. Don Ottavio and Donna Anna pursue him for the murder of Anna's father. Benjamin De Los Monteros is an effective Ottavio. With just a change in his eyebrows he go from fierce to tender in a few seconds. Mary Lutz-Goversten has a soaring voice that has Anna's grief shake the rafters.

The show is for ordinary people — people who don't know Italian and can't afford going to the Lyric — and it's performed in somewhat modern English (the company did its own translation of the libretto). Opera isn't a bunch of fat people yelling at each other in Italian, as popular consciousness believes it is thanks to Looney Tunes. Opera is a dramatic, passionate art form that's meant to arouse high emotions in the audience. And, lucky for everyone, in ACO's production, ordinary people who don't understand Italian can experience it.

The next performances of Don Giovanni will take place on Aug. 17 and 18 at 7:30pm and Aug. 19 at 4:30pm in the sanctuary of the Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St. General admission is $20 and Student/Senior admission is $10. Tickets can be bought online and are available until an hour before the performance.

About the author: Robert O'Connor is a co-editor at 3:AM Magazine and a regular contributor to Spike Magazine. His work has appeared in the Chi-Town Daily News, the Twin Cities Daily Planet, KFAI and elsewhere. He lives in Irving Park.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

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He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
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Southport & Northport Records
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