CHICAGO (CBS) — With a new production at the Lyric Opera putting terrorism on stage, producers have taken extra steps to warn audiences about its content.
Bel Canto, based on a best-selling novel by Ann Patchett, and inspired by a real-life terrorist attack and hostage crisis in Peru, was commissioned by the Lyric Opera five years ago. At the time, Producers didn’t know just how timely it would be, with the premiere coming in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks and mass shootings in Colorado and California.
The opera opens with a simulated gun battle during a musical performance.
Given the recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and Colorado Springs, the Lyric Opera has taken steps to reassure audiences. There will be warnings about the theatrical gunfire, and – for the first time in the company’s history – the Lyric Opera will host a discussion about the show after each performance.
Lyric Opera general director Anthony Freud also has penned a letter posted online and included in “Bel Canto” programs.
“We are living in troubling and volatile times. On an almost daily basis, the news is dominated by reports of horrifying and indiscriminate violence. Through its years of planning, none of us could have known how startlingly topical Bel Canto would be at the time of its world premiere performances.
Bel Canto — both the novel and the opera — is a work of fiction. While the event that triggers its story is based on a real hostage crisis (in Lima, Peru in 1996/7), it is not a documentary. However, the production contains scenes of violence, and includes loud theatrical gunfire.
At the heart of both the novel and the opera is the idea that humane relationships can develop in the least likely of circumstances, with the voice of Roxane Coss, the world’s most famous operatic soprano, providing a humanizing catalyst. Those of us who care passionately about the arts dream that, in real life, works of art offer insight and maybe even some healing in our turbulent times.
I believe that opera is a relevant art form and must not shy away from dealing with contemporary and disturbing subjects. Hopefully, we can play a part in stimulating thought, discourse and debate.
We will host a thirty minute discussion about Bel Canto on the main floor of the opera house immediately following each performance.
Please enjoy Bel Canto.
General Director -“
Bel Canto premieres Monday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Opera House.