Ride the Operatic Roller Coaster of ‘Fall of the House of Usher’

 Lee Gregory as William, Nicholas Shelton as the Servant, Ryan MacPherson as RoderickImagine, if you will, an operatic roller coaster which dips and falls between reality and illusion. That’s the ride on which Chicago Opera Theater (COT) will bring its listeners later this week with its 2013 season opener, The Fall of the House of Usher. The opera melds Edgar Allen Poe’s sinister story with Philip Glass’s mind-bending music to tell one of the most famous gothic horror tales of all time.

The Fall of the House of Usher is about internal and external collapsing worlds,” explains COT General Director Andreas Mitisek. “Glass’ music suspends reality and time, hypnotizing us on this journey to the edge of sanity. It’s a 90-minute psychological roller coaster ride.”

Usher tells the tale of William, who visits the sinister mansion where his ailing friend Roderick Usher and twin sister Madeline reside as the final descendents of the Usher bloodline. William attempts to bring Roderick back from the brink of insanity by reminding him of his passion for the fine arts, but William eventually becomes ensnared in a web of supernatural events and paranoia.

The opera will feature the COT debuts of soprano Suzan Hansen (Madeline Usher), baritone Lee Gregory (William), tenor Jonathan Mack (Physician), tenor Ryan MacPherson (Roderick Usher), and bass-baritone Nicholas Shelton (Servant).

The Fall of the House of Usher runs for four performances on Saturday, Feb 23 at 7:30 pm., Sunday, Feb 24 at 3 pm, Wednesday, Feb 27 at 7:30 pm. and Friday, March 1 at 7:30 pm. at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph Drive. Individual tickets went on sale January 21 and range from $45 – $125. Tickets may be purchased through Chicago Opera Theater at www.chicagooperatheater.org, by phone at 312-704-8414, or through the Harris Theater at www.harristheaterhicago.org and 312-334-7777. COT offers half-off tickets to students in sections A, B, C and D.

All photos by Keith Ian Polakoff, courtesy of Long Beach Opera

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