This week I decided to research Rogers Park’s theater scene. As a neighborhood of Chicago, Rogers Park contributes to the city’s eclectic artistry in many ways, specifically in the form of opera.
The Haymarket Opera Company is a local group that Chicago cellist and viola de gamba player Craig Trompeter started in 2011. Trompeter felt that period operas were not properly represented among Chicago’s historical performances, so he quickly gathered with a few colleagues and held a fundraiser. His idea for a local 17th and 18th century- inspired opera came to life as a not-for-profit group named Haymarket Opera Company. Its name comes from Chicago’s 1886 Haymarket riot and the 1705 King’s Theatre opening in London’s Haymarket District. It represents their dedication to both Chicago and the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. The company’s mission is to use a variety of period instruments, costumes, and vocal styles to perform operas from the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment era. On their website, the HOC describes their instrumentalists as, “not only specialists on their individual instruments, they are historians who recreate the sounds 17th and 18th century composers would have heard as they wrote.”
Their rendition of the opera clearly represents the time, as their vocalists are trained in historically informed practices of sound production, ornamentation, and diction and their orchestra consists of specialists in the field.
The HOC’s commitment to staying true to the ages they depict comes across not only through their sound, but also through their image. They evoke an artistry that takes their audience to the Age of Reason or the Enlightenment.
This weekend, HOC will be performing a story from Metamorphoses, an A.D. 8 Latin narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid. This weekend’s show La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers tells the story of the mythical musician Orpheus and his new bride Eurydice. As Eurydice suddenly falls to her death after a serpent’s bite, Orpheus follows her to Hades where he begs Pluto, ruler of the underworld, to let his wife come back to Earth with him. At last Orpheus’s singing convinces Pluto to set Eurydice free, but only under the condition that Orpheus will never turn to see his wife’s face. The music for La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers was composed by Marc- Antoine Charpentier in 17th century France.
The La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers will be running Feb 24 and 25 at 7:30pm at the Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave. To reserve tickets, purchase them online or call the Mayne Stage box office 773-381-4554.