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Lyric Unlimited’s “The Property” Review – A Klezmer Opera

By Amy Munice

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The story of “The Property” is a very good one, and operas, even the best ones, often don’t have a good story line.  If you love opera, you learn to live with plots that include people dying of dehydration in the desert of New Orleans.  No such mind leaps are needed in “The Property”.  In this opera, a grandmother and her granddaughter, recently bereaved of their respective son and father, are in Poland trying to reclaim the family property taken from them during the Holocaust.  That is the setting but the real tale is of family secrets long buried now coming to light.  There are loves, new and old, and a happy ending, also a welcome change from your typical opera fare.

 

 

“The Property”, a Klezmer opera presented by Lyric Unlimited, has a very tough act to follow.  It is the companion piece to the Lyric’s mainstage “The Passenger”, also with a Holocaust theme, and with a score and libretto so moving that it will likely cling to your heart to the end of your days. 

 

Alas, “The Property” is clearly not in the same league.  Nor does it hold the promise that “Klezmer” opera might have to someone such as myself whose favorite workout music is a compilation of up tempo Klezmer songs.  Technically this may be Klezmer music, but if you go by the definition of Klezmer being Jewish soul music this was frankly lacking in the familiar ingredients of wailing clarinets, melodies with lilt, and more in the “Jewish Jazz” repertoire that do stir souls, Jewish and otherwise.  That said, there are some nice melodies in this opera such that you will likely be interested in hearing the next work that composer Wlad Marhulets creates.

 

 

You too may wish that James Maddalena playing Roman Gorski and Nathaniel Olson playing Tomasz had more significant parts.  Their soothing voices were always welcome moments in the score.

 

 

This was a great concept, i.e. a companion opera in a new genre to a larger piece on the Lyric Opera main stage.  This may not have made the mark, but let’s hope that it will feed the Lyric’s desire to keep experimenting with new ways to bring its usually world class productions to an ever widening audience.

 

Remaining performances take place:

 

February 27, 2015 1 PM at Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
915 E 60th Street, Chicago

 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 7:30 p.m. and
Thursday, March 5, 2015, 7:30 p.m. at

The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie

 

For tickets or more information visit the Lyric Opera website or call 312 827 5600.

 

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Photos: Robert Kusel

 

 

 

 

 

Published on Feb 27, 2015

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