Moby-Dick

Chicago Opera Theater

Chicago, IL

“But the ultimate star here was the production itself, a tour de force for Chicago Opera Theater with many moving parts. Conductor and COT music director Lidiya Yankovskaya brought forth brilliantly colored accompaniment from the orchestra, where the most exciting musical action takes place. The chorus, too, proved resplendent, onstage and off.”

–Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

“…An ideal cast who can act their roles with impressive style, as well as sing them with authority and exemplary diction. Lidiya Yankovskaya, COT’s young and exceptionally talented music director, elicits all the feverish beauty of the score from her superb orchestra, and from the male chorus that is more than three dozen strong.”
–Hedy Weiss, WTTW News

“By any measure, Chicago Opera Theater's staging of Jake Heggie's “Moby-Dick” is a defining success in the history of the company... Perhaps most memorable is a gentle, affecting meditation on the sea as night slowly changes to morning. This section and the rest of the score are handsomely realized by the Chicago Opera Theater’s pit orchestra, masterfully led by music director Lidiya Yankovskaya, who never allows the momentum to flag.”
–Kyle MacMillan, Chicago Sun-Times

“COT’s “Moby-Dick” is a winning operatic experience with stimulating music and touching portrayals, all against the backdrop of an epic sea story. COT has assembled a large cast and a good-sized orchestra who all contribute to an astonishing night at the opera. Lidiya Yankovskaya, COT’s music director, got things off to a propitious start on opening night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on Thursday, with orchestral sound that began quietly, establishing a mood of eeriness and hinting at the adventure and danger to come. All night long the sound from the pit was glorious, from playful allurings to leviathanic threats.”
–M. L. Rantala, Hyde Park Herald

“A powerful experience, well worth chasing down. COT music director Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts a 60-piece orchestra. This co-production with four other opera companies is a major undertaking for COT and one of its best ever.”
–Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader

“Highly recommended – it’s rare to hear a more hauntingly beautiful and stylistically varied score… Chicago Opera Theater’s Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya masterfully conducted the 60-member orchestra through Heggie’s score.”

–Jeffrey Leibham, Around The Town Chicago

“The enthralling immediacy of story and song is musical mastery that turns both this massed ensemble and superb orchestra (conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya) into forces of nature in their own right. COT’s labor of love abounds in thinking thrills, unforgettable stage tableaux, and monumental energy that always rises to Melville’s occasions.”
–Lawrence Bommer, Stage and Cinema

“Lidiya Yankovskaya built on her strong debut last November leading Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. She kept the momentum surging through the two long acts, balancing the principals, chorus and large orchestra with consummate skill and putting across all of the ingenuity, audacity and startling beauty of Heggie’s remarkable score.”
–Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

“Moby Dick was masterfully conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya. Under her baton the 60 piece orchestra played beautifully with a sumptuous sound. The positive influence of Ms. Yankovskaya’s direction continues to impress in a business which is highly competitive for better orchestra players. The commitment to excellence from COT is to be commended.”
–William and Margaret Swain, Buzz Center Stage

“Utah Opera has now provided a more modest version designed to tour, capably directed by Kristine McIntire and, at the Chicago Opera Theater (★★★★), powerfully conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya.”
–Ian Dickson, Australian Book Review

The richly voiced Aleksey Bogdanov made a strong impression as Starbuck, the moral centre of the piece. His agonising soliloquy over the sleeping body of Ahab – rationalising whether in order to save the crew he was justified in killing the mad old man – made a powerful ending to the first act. Vince Wallace’s Queequeg and Andrew Bidlack’s Greenhorn more than held their own, and Summer Hassan in the pants role of the cabin boy Pip, though visually not wildly convincing as a boy, sang beautifully and was heartbreaking as the bewildered lost soul that the boy becomes. The only weak link in the cast, a major one unfortunately, was Richard Cox’s Ahab. In a role designed for the heldentenor Ben Heppner, Cox strained vocally and simply did not have the personality to inhabit a man who could say, ‘I’d strike the sun if it insulted me.’

“Heggie opens the score with an almost quiet contemplation of the sea, which you too might admire even more when the orchestra under Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya pours out turbulent storms. Every once in a while there is a fleeting phrase in the score with almost déjà vu familiarity of an aria Pavorotti might have sung, or even a show tune, but before this writer could register the when/where, it would be washed away by other musical currents rising in a new wave… It is the muscular male chorus – sometimes center stage and sometimes off stage—that perhaps most impresses.  If the Soviet Army Chorus were unleashed to sing a wider range of melodies that weren’t all about military conquest and glory, one imagines they might sound just like this.”

–Amy Munice, Picture This Post

“Chicago Opera Theater music director Lidiya Yankovskaya led a first-class cast, a 60-piece orchestra, and an agile 38-member chorus in the service of this demanding opera. “Moby-Dick” doesn’t sound Italian at all, but it loves singers the way Verdi operas do, and Yankovskaya conveyed its Verdi-like sense of tension and forward motion, knowing where to dwell and reflect, how long to cower, when to pounce, how to switch gears and get on with it.”

–Nancy Malitz, Chicago on The Aisle

ReviewsBeth Stewart