Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Lyric Opera Of Chicago

Production runs through October 7

By: Sep. 21, 2022
Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Lyric Opera Of Chicago

To life and family..... Lyric Opera's newest and long awaited production of Fiddler on the Roof has arrived.

The opening features a young fiddler (Drake Wunderlich) in modern garb including headphones. He opens the door of a wardrobe and Tevye (Steven Skybell) appears along with all the villagers of Anatevka wearing the period costumes . The cast fills the entire stage of the Lyric - it is not small! We meet Tevyes's family: his wife Golde (Debbie Gravitte) and his three principal daughters Tzeitel (Lauren Marcus),Chava (Maya Jacobson) and Hodel (Austen Danielle Bohmer) - all wanting to be married but not with the help of Yente (Joy Hermalyn). When the sisters sing Matchmaker, they do not perform the song with brooms as most productions do using Jerome Robbins choreography. Is it missed? Maybe but the choreography (Otto Pichler and Silvano Marraffa) incorporates a more "modern" approach. The same is done with the bottle dance at the wedding reception. The dancing by the men during the reception is a highlight. The transition from the joyfulness of the wedding into the end of Act 1 with it's sadness is a real jolt.

Under Barrie Kosky's direction, this really is an operatic staging. The orchestra under the direction of Kimberly Grigsby is lush and fills the theater as do the voices of the Lyric Opera Chorus. The set (designed by Rufus Didwiszus) is a mix of boxes, wardrobes and other pieces. It gives the feel of family roots and yet moveability. The lighting (originally designed by Diego Leetz) in Act 1 is muted. Act 2 is almost completely in snow coming down which also adds more light. That adds a very calming touch considering Act 1 ends in a shocking and unforeseen way. Tevye's daughters all marry with Hodel marrying outside of their faith. Even though Tevye has acquiesced to his daughters' modern approach to marriage - not being arranged - he cannot forgive Hodel for that. He declares she is dead to him. When the villagers are told they have 3 days to relocate, they mourn the loss of their village but they are also ready to move on. Tevye and his family are going to America. Hodel's husband is being held in Siberia and she will go to him. Before she leaves she hears that Tevye has given his blessing. The final scene is the young fiddler again. However, he does not play the last note as the scene goes to black.

This production uses the Lyric space to its best. There are times the scene on the stage looks like a painting. It is still the story of a family and a father trying to come to terms with tradition vs. modernization especially where his daughters are concerned. He also questions his wife if she loves him since he is now finding out that his daughters are marrying for love and not because it was a match made by parents. Fiddler will make you think, feel, question and wonder about the lives of the fictional characters. This is the story of the human condition brought to life on a grand scale. Enjoy the journey.