Chicago Opera Theater Presents Donizetti's IL PIGMALIONE and RITA
Chicago Opera Theater (COT) presents "Il Pigmalione" & "Rita," a double-bill that spans the life and career of one of opera's premier Bel Canto composers, Gaetano Donizetti. The two works will be woven together to create a cohesive theatrical production featuring the talents of Javier Abreu (Pigmalione/Beppe), Angela Mortellaro (Galatea/Rita) and Keith Phares (Gasparo). Donizetti's first work and one of his last, are presented together as an exploration of love, fantasy and the blurry lines between them. The double bill is conducted by Francesco Milioto, directed by Amy Hutchison with movement by physical theater expert Adrian Danzig. The opening night and main press performance will take place on Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Studebaker Theater (410 S. Michigan). Additional performances will take place on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m.
"Il Pigmalione" embodies the classic story from Ovid's metamorphosis that would go on to inspire Shaw, Lerner and Loewe. Devoted artist Pigmalione, shuttered in his studio, toils away to create his vision of ideal beauty: Galatea. Smitten with his own work, his prayers for true love are answered when she's brought to life. Puerto Rican tenor Javier Abreu sings an extensive solo performance as Pigmalione until he is joined by soprano Angela Mortellaro when she comes to life as Galatea.
During the intermission, Abreu and Mortellaro's characters age and develop through a theatrical entre'acte, where Galatea becomes the titular "Rita" of the second opera, a self-reliant café owner on the Italian coast, and Pigmalione is revealed to be the sensitive artistic side of Beppe, Rita's overworked Roberto Begnini-esque husband. In the second comedic opera a love triangle plunges Rita and Beppe into chaos when her first husband, Gasparo (sung by baritone Keith Phares), returns to town after having been presumed dead for years. In Gasparo's return, Beppe sees an opportunity to escape his exhausting situation, and so the two men face off to determine who has to stay and who gets to leave. Meanwhile Rita herself ponders if her life and her business are better off with either of the two men at all.