Behind the Story
Adam I Orenstein
Catherine & Ava Bergmann
Clara A. Yarian
Enkyrosaum Maida Santa Cruz
Esther Talledo Snook
Fawzi M Bayyat
George Ann Bissett
Jane Russell Geddings
Joerg Mueller ( Aesthetic-Press)
Ken & Kris Hannon
Luis E. Ramos
Mom & Dad - Milagros and Michael Coulmas
Patrick Davidson (Nitesol)
Stephen Joel Jensen
The Harton Family
Tony Peacock and Family
Wayne S. Williams
Ten years had passed since the last opera was performed on the beautiful stage of the Chicago Civic Opera. The crash of 1929 bankrupted the opera leaving room for several opera companies to rise and fall again due to debt until 1946. During this time Chicago experienced the depression, sending its young men to war, welcoming them home again and starting a new era of prosperity and a booming economy in the 1950's. It was then that 28 year old musician, Carol Fox, came back to her home in Chicago after her studies in Europe and decided to do something about the ten year opera hiatus.
With the help of Lawrence V. Kelly, a young business man the same age as Fox, and American-Italian conductor, Nicola Rescigno, Carol Fox organized the team that would co-found what is now known as the Chicago Lyric Opera.
Once in place, it was time to plan out the 1954-55 season of the opera. Don Giovanni has its own history with opera in Chicago and seemed to be the choice for their "calling card" performance, preceding the official season. The cast included Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Eleanor Steber, John Brownlee, Luigi Sgarro, Irene Jordan, Leopold Simoneau, Lorenzo Alvary and Bidu Sayao, as Zerlina.
A Dream Come True
When I arrived in Chicago on Feb 28, 2012, a dream of mine had finally come true. Chicago had always been a city I wanted to see ever since I was 18 when I made an unsuccessful attempt to move there. After living in Europe for two years, the comfort of the US was replaced with being overwhelmed by the grandness, fast pace and American way of life. It usually takes me some time to stop paying attention to all of the conversations around me since I can understand every word. Even when I start to speak, I have to shake the feeling that they won't understand my English.
Once settled in and after an oversized, greasy meal at T.G.I. Fridays, I organized my meeting with Tom Hall, a friend and singer at the Chicago Lyric Opera. The next day he picked me up and we went to 20 North Wacker Drive. Tom pointed out that the building was in the shape of a chair with its back to the east. Rumor has it that the designer designed the building to look like a throne which his daughter could figuratively sit as a star with her back to the Metropolitan in New York where she was apparently rejected.
We walked up to the guard who had an envelope for me from the archives and he allowed Tom to take me for a quick tour around the facility. When I came out I immediately opened the brown envelope to see what treasures I would take home with me about Bidu's time there at the opera house. What I found was a copy of the playbill from the very first performance of the Chicago Lyric Opera which outlined the story of how it came to be and a picture of Bidu playing the part of Zerlina as part of another historical moment in opera.
9. May 1, 2012
The "Calling Card" Performance of the Chicago Lyric Opera
Carol Fox and Lawrence C. Kelly (right)