My Wagnerian Weekend in Chicago

This weekend, my family and I took a mini vacation from the Met, and flew to Chicago: Home of the Lyric Opera. As a birthday present for me, my father purchased three tickets to see Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. After six, long months of waiting, the trip finally occurred.

            In addition to the wonderful performance, I also enjoyed sharing deep-dish pizza with a long time Internet friend, Val Demma. Like me, she is a prospering soprano vocal student and she has an incredible interest in choral music and everything musical in Chicago and beyond. @ThatSopranoChic on twitter, Val and I have been corresponding on twitter for a long time and we finally were able to meet each other in person!

            Val and I decided that we would meet for an “Opera Rocks” Twitter party at

Giordano’s: A Chicago restaurant famous for its deep-dish pizza. As a New Yorker, I was equally looking forward to meeting Val and the pizza. We shared a small pie and talked opera the entire time. She told me about what performances and which singers she has seen, Joyce DiDonato being her absolute favorite, and I shared my stories. She also gave me some fantastic advice on colleges and vocal teachers: How to choose them, who to talk to, and what I should get out of them. It was wonderful to talk to her.  I could see from her tweets that she was deeply dedicated to her love of choral music and opera, but meeting her in person showed that on a whole new level.

Photo: Me and Val enjoying our deep-dish pizza

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            After enjoying the Chicago deep-dish pizza, Val walked us over to the opera house and said goodbye. I went into the theater so I could get familiar with the seat that I was going to be sitting in for the next six hours.

            The cast of Die Meistersinger included Johan Botha as Walther von Stolzing, James Morris as Hans Sachs, and Bo Skovhus as Beckmesser. Eva was sung by Amanda Majeski, an alumnist of the Ryan Opera Center young artists program, and Magdalene was sung by a fellow tweeter and follower, Jamie Barton. The David McVicar production was a debut for the Lyric Opera, and it was previously debuted at Glyndebourne in the summer of 2011.

            Morris paced himself well through the long part of Hans Sachs, which he is a veteran of. Botha was a winning Walther von Stolzing, as he was when I sang in it with him at the Met in 2007. Mr. Skovhus played a nitpicky, “always has to follow the rules” Beckmesser. Ms. Barton also played a hilarious Magdalene with added facial expressions that sent the audience into laughter. Amanda Majeski’s performance was outstanding. She had a glorious, beautiful bloom at the top of her voice that matched the character of Eva perfectly.

Photo: The David McVicar production of Die Meistersinger

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            The production is beautiful. It is well lit with plenty of color, just as the music feels. I especially enjoyed the second scene of Act three with all of the colors of the Johannistag Festival. There were jugglers, clowns, and everything that you would see at a summer festival. I also enjoyed the second scene of Act three for another reason…

Photo: Me (little girl in the middle with long blonde hair) in Act 3 of Die Meistersinger at the Met in 2007.  Beth Bergman©

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My first singing opera in the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus was in Die Meistersinger at the Met in March of 2007. It has remained my favorite opera that I performed in. Along with performing in those four performances (plus the dress rehearsal), my father and I attended all of the Act ones and twos before the third acts. Die Meistersinger remains as a sentimental opera to me in that I performed in it and attended all of the performances.

            Between meeting Val and seeing Die Meistersinger, my weekend in Chicago was absolutely wonderful. Seeing Die Meistersinger in Chicago was an absolute joy, and was also a flashback to the sentimental memories that I share with the opera. 

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