The 50-minute romp is a zarzuela riff on Machiavelli’s story “La Mandragola”, in which Lucrezia, an intelligent seductress, takes charge of her own needs and tricks her suitors into not only giving her pleasure but also their money. A game of seduction and love, riddled with humor and coy femininity, “Lucrezia” features the iconic art song style of Bolcom (“McTeague”, “A View from the Bridge” and “A Wedding”, all commissioned and premiered by Lyric Opera of Chicago), with a pun-laced libretto by Mark Campbell (“Silent Night”). The piece is performed by four hands at two pianos.
In its unique site-specific style, the CFO production places the audience around the action, with a pre-show cabaret — complete with cash bar — featuring the cast of “Lucrezia” singing a selection of Bolcom’s best art songs. “Audiences loved our recent take on Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti”, which paired that jazzy opera with a pre-show set of jazz standards,” says Chicago Fringe Opera Artistic Director George Cederquist. “Our performances of “Lucrezia” take that idea to the next level, capturing the sexiness and silliness of Bolcom’s wonderful music and Campell’s cheeky text by placing it in the immersive and convivial setting. We’re thrilled to return to the Chopin Theater for this event.”
The opera features five CFO season artists: Ashley Armstrong (from CFO’s fall production “Song from the Uproar”) in the title role, including Matthan Ring Black (baritone), Gabriel Di Gennaro (baritone), Diana Stoic (soprano) and Tobias Wright (tenor) in the comic cast. CFO Music Director Catherine O’Shaughnessy conducts from the piano, with stage direction by Cederquist and designs by CFO company member Brad Caleb Lee.
By William Bolcom
Libretto by Mark Campbell