Yesterday evening my sister, Gail, and I had the pleasure of attending the final performance of the German opera, Wozzeck, at the Chicago Lyric Opera. We were in the audience primarily to see Gail's granddaughter, Lauren Pfetcher, appear on stage with several other area youth in an action and singing scene at the close of the show.
Lauren was amazing - very professional in her stage debut as a German street urchin. After the show we joined her and the other German street urchins for ice cream at a local Baskin Robbins. It was fun watching the kids interact. Just weeks before they had been unknown to each other in the big city of Chicago, but the experience of being a part of Wozzeck, rehearsals and seven performances, had bound them into a tight little group of friends.
The Chicago Opera House is a very ornate theatre that has been a cultural venue in the Windy City for decades. Gail and I had what were referred to as "box seats," but were actually groups of eight sectioned off across the first balcony. We arrived early and got the front two seats in our box, staring out over what was essentially the dead-bang center of the theatre. Literally two of the best seats in the house.
I've already prefaced this by saying Lauren was great. That said, I think it only fair to say that when it comes to opera, I am less than a fan. The only opera that I remember ever having see before was a college production years before of La Traviata. I have also seen a film of The Pirates of Penzance (the Linda Ronstadt - Kevin Kline version which I liked immensely.)
(In my defense, however, I do enjoy the ballet!)
We had been forewarned that Wozzeck was a very dark piece of operatic theatre - and it certainly was. The title character is a German soldier who serves as a flunky to his captain and his regiment. The soldier has a mistress out in the community who refers to herself in perjorative terms. They are the parents of an illegitimate young son. Wozzeck volunteers to be a part of medical experiments with his regiment's doctor so that he can earn extra money to support his family. As the story progresses the mistress has an affair with the regiment's handsome drum major, a sad failing which ultimately leads to despair and death.
Cheery stuff, right? And all in German!
But, darkness aside, Wozzeck was an evening that I wouldn't have missed for the world!
Great job, Lauren!