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PDX OPERAbeat | A Company Blog is the blog for all things Portland Opera, featuring a variety of guest contributors who will provide insider's tidbits on all we do to celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.

Portland Opera in the Windy City - Act I

Our latest trip for opera lovers is to Chicago ("that toddling town"), where we will attend three performances at the Chicago Lyric Opera. This is the sixth trip Portland Opera has taken with Act I Tours, each with Jacqueline Sale as the perfect tour guide. I'm delighted to be hosting such a great group of friends, subscribers, fellow opera-lovers, and to be back in the great city "windy city" of Chicago!

We arrived on Wednesday, March 7, and kicked off our trip with dinner at the top of The Willis Tower (formerly named The Sears Tower). Here we are in the lobby, about to go up 103 floors (yes, that's the Peter Bilotta on my arm):

 Chicaco Trip Photo 1

Thursday morning we met Joe Cunniff, who was born and raised in Chicago and knows the city inside-out. Joe teaches at DePaul University and at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the greatest museums in the world. Joe has been regularly attending the museum since he was eight years old. We could not have asked for a more informed and passionate museum guide. Here's Joe talking to the group, with El Greco's The Assumption of the Virgin hovering above us:

Chicago Blog Photo 2

It's difficult to describe the impact of the Art Institute of Chicago. The hours we spent there this morning were truly unforgettable. The museum owns so many famous paintings, and they are beautifully displayed in spacious, well-lit galleries. What follows are just a few highlights of the visit...


Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Sondheim fans will recognize this painting as the basis for his great musical, Sunday in the Park with George.

Chicago Blog Photo 3

Joe explains how Toulouse-Lautrec, similar to Alfred Hitchock in his films, will often appear in his own paintings. He's the short guy standing at the bar in the back:

Chicago Blog Photo 4

Here we are in an entire room full of paintings by Monet:

Chicago Blog Photo 5

The original American Gothic, by Grant Wood, is in this museum. Joe informs us that it is one of the most copied and parodied paintings in the world.

Chicago Blog Photo 6

Louis and Judy McCraw with an Edward Hopper:

Chicago Blog Photo 7

John and Virginia McCormac with a "blue-period" Picasso:

Chicago Blog Photo 9

Julie Reiersgaard and Loran Mate with a "cubist" Picasso:

Chicago Blog Photo 10

Our mighty group enters the modern wing:

Chicago Blog Photo 11

And finish our museum visit with a delicious lunch:

Chicago Blog Photo 12

Tonight, we attend our first performance at the Lyric - Handel's Rinaldo!

I'll be back tomorrow...

Chris Mattaliano