Light Opera Works

Light Opera Works

Light Opera Works is a resident professional not-for-profit musical theatre company in Evanston, Illinois. It was founded in 1980 by Philip Kraus, Bridget McDonough (still its managing director), and Ellen Dubinsky.

Light Opera Works has presented over 75 productions of operetta and musical theatre at Northwestern University's 1,000-seat Cahn Auditorium. Since 1998, in addition to its three annual productions in this theatre, Light Opera Works also produces a fourth, more intimate show, in the 250-seat Second Stage theater. The company performs all of its productions in English with orchestra.


Kraus was the first Artistic Director of the company, serving from 1981 through 1999. The first production of the company occurred in 1981 with a staging of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore. [Scher, Valerie. "Pinafore: A Spirited, Romantic Delight", "Chicago Sun-Times", September 11, 1981, p. 63] His main emphasis in programming centered on American, French, and Viennese operetta, and Gilbert and Sullivan, as well as early 20th century musical theatre pieces that were seldom performed by professional companies.

Lara Teeter succeeded Kraus and served as Artistic Director until 2004. He continued to program operettas but added more musicals from later in the 20th century. The current artistic director, Rudy Hogenmiller, took over in 2005 and continues that trend.


In its early years, the company staged all thirteen extant Gilbert and Sullivan operas, including a concept Elizabethan "Mikado" (1986) [Delacoma, Wynne. "Opera Works offers British "Mikado", "Chicago Sun-Times", June 20, 1986, p. 20] and an Edward Gorey/Tim Burton-inspired "Ruddigore" (1996), [Bommer, Lawrence . "Ruddigore" review in "Windy City Times", August 22, 1996, p. 32] as well as the less frequently produced "Utopia Limited" (1984) [Grossman, Ron. "Gilbert & Sullivan fans find "Utopia", "Chicago Tribune", December 28, 1984, Section 7, p. 3] and "The Grand Duke" (1992).

The company has produced a number of Chicago premieres, including Emmerich Kálmán's "The Duchess of Chicago" (1998), [Mauro, Lucia. "The Duchess of Chicago" review in the "Chicago Sun Times", August 1998] Jerome Moross' "The Golden Apple" (1995), [Williams, Albert. "Homer on the Range", "The Reader", August 25, 1995, Section 1, p. 36] and Karl Millöcker's "The Beggar Student", [Süllwold, Carla-Maria Verdino. "Second City Opera: Contending for First Place", in "Opera Monthly" February 1992, Vol. 4 No. 10, p. 26] as well as revivals such as Oscar Straus' "The Chocolate Soldier" (1987) [Reich, Howard. "The Chocolate Soldier makes sweet bit of history", "Chicago Tribune", August 30, 1987, Section 5, p. 6] and A Waltz Dream (1992) ["A Waltz Dream", Kathleen Tobin, "The Beverly Review", July 15, 1992] (both with translations by Kraus and lyricist Gregory Opelka), Victor Herbert's "Babes in Toyland" (1994) ["Babes in Toyland" revival announced in the "Chicago Sun Times", "Toyland: A Special Place for Young and Old", December 27, 1993, p. 23] and The Red Mill (1992), [Sinozich, Patrick. "The Red Mill" review in "Gay Chicago Magazine", January 23–February 2, 1992, p. 36] and Leonard Bernstein's "Wonderful Town" (1996). [Lynch, Liz. "Wonderful Town" review in "Chicago Sun-Times", December 30, 1996, p. 27] The company embarked on a Kurt Weill cycle in 1989 beginning with "Lady in the Dark" (1990), [Weiss, Suzanne. "Light Opera Works Lights Ten Candles", "Pioneer Press", June 14, 1990, p. D2] and including "One Touch of Venus" (1997) [Patner, Andrew. "One Touch of Venus" review in "Chicago Sun-Times", August 19, 1997, p. 32] and "Knickerbocker Holiday" (1993). ["Knickerbocker Holiday" reviewed in "Gay Chicago Magazine", January 14-24, 1993, pp. 35-36]

In 1998, in addition to its three annual shows in the Cahn Auditorium, Light Opera Works also began to produce a fourth, more intimate show each year in the 250-seat Second Stage. These have included classic operettas like Jacques Offenbach's "The Isle of Tulipitan", new works such as "Soup du Jour" and "No Way to Treat a Lady", and revivals such as "Darling of the Day".

;List of productions2008: "Gigi"; "Iolanthe"; "Side by Side by Sondheim" (Second Stage); "The Music Man" 2007: "Kiss Me, Kate"; "Bitter Sweet"; "Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill"; "Oklahoma!" 2006: "South Pacific"; "110 in the Shade"; Ben Bagley's "The Decline and Fall of the Entire World as Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter" (Second Stage); "The Mikado" 2005: "Carnival!"; "The Merry Widow"; "Darling of the Day" (Second Stage); "The Sound of Music" 2004: "Sweethearts"; "Candide"; "No Way to Treat a Lady" - Douglas J. Cohen (Second Stage); "H.M.S. Pinafore" 2003: "Ragtime"; "Fiddler on the Roof"; "My Night at Jacques" - Jacques Offenbach (Second Stage); "Die Fledermaus" 2002: "Gypsy Love" - Franz Lehár; "Camelot"; "Soup du Jour" - Opelka, Mueller and Boland (Second Stage); "The Pirates of Penzance" 2001: "Countess Maritza"; "Kismet"; "You Never Know" (Second Stage); "The Student Prince" 2000: "The Gondoliers"; "Man of La Mancha"; "Tintypes" (Second Stage); "The Great Waltz" 1999: "Beautiful Helen of Troy (La Belle Hélène); "Rose Marie"; "She Loves Me" (Second Stage); "The Mikado" 1998: "The Yeomen of the Guard"; "The Duchess of Chicago"; "The Fantasticks" (Second Stage); "The Desert Song" 1997: "H.M.S. Pinafore"; "One Touch of Venus"; "The Merry Widow" 1996: "The Chocolate Soldier"; "Ruddigore"; "Wonderful Town" 1995: "The Pirates of Penzance"; "The Golden Apple"; "Die Fledermaus" 1994: "A Night in Venice"; "The Student Prince"; "The Most Happy Fella" 1993: "The Count of Luxembourg"; "Iolanthe"; "Babes in Toyland" 1992: "A Waltz Dream"; "The Grand Duke"; "Knickerbocker Holiday" 1991: "Bitter Sweet"; "The Beggar Student"; "The Red Mill" 1990: "The Gypsy Princess"; "Princess Ida"; "The New Moon" 1989: "Vienna Life" ("Wiener Blut"); "Patience"; "Lady in the Dark" 1988: "The Land of Smiles"; "La Perichole"; "The Desert Song" 1987: "The Sorcerer"; "The Chocolate Soldier"; "Rose Marie" 1986: "The Mikado"; "The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein"; "Die Fledermaus" 1985: "The Gondoliers"; "The Gypsy Baron"; "The Student Prince" 1984: "La vie Parisienne"; "The Merry Widow"; "Utopia, Limited" 1983: "The Pirates of Penzance"; "A Little Night Music"; "Naughty Marietta" 1982: "The Beautiful Galatea" ("Die schöne Galathee"); "Gianni Schicchi"; "Candide" 1981: "H.M.S. Pinafore"; "Orpheus in the Underworld"

Other activities

Light Opera Works is an active participant in the Chicago arts community and is a member of the League of Chicago Theatres [ [ List of League of Chicago Theatres members] ] and a founding member of Chicago Performances. [ [ List of members of Chicago Performances] ] The company has collaborated on artistic and educational projects with the Union League Club, Boys and Girls Club, Evanston District 65 schools, Theatre Building Chicago, and other organizations.Fact|date=August 2008



* [ Article celebrating Chicago theatre anniversaries]
* [ Official website]
*Gerst, Virginia. "Kraus makes light work of opera", "Pioneer Press", August 19, 1982 p.D2
*Miller, Bryan. "Music Notes: the opera company that gets no respect," "The Reader", May 26, 1989 Section 1 p.6
*Süllwold, Carla-Maria Verdino. "Second City Opera: Contending for First Place", "Opera Monthly" Feb. 1992, Vol. 4 No.10 p.21-30
*von Rhein, John. "Lighten up, critics" "Chicago Tribune" 1990, 10th Anniversary article
*Whitmore, Julie. "Light opera company brings Europe to Evanston" in "Crain's Chicago Business", June 20, 1988, p. 27

External links

* [ Profile of the company]

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