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Soprano sizzles in 'Scottish play'
CHICAGO SCENE

Soprano sizzles in 'Scottish play'

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"Macbeth" is one witchy night at the opera.  And Mrs. Macbeth turns this Lyric Opera premiere into a devilish Halloween treat.

Blond bombshell Nadja Michael makes Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct" look like a PTA mom.

For the last four weeks, the German-born soprano has been steaming up the stage in the Verdi tragedy. Under the direction of Barbara Gaines, Lady Macbeth radiates a murderous sexuality.

We meet the Bard's most famous villanness, in a skin-tight red gown, plotting murder in her candelit lair. She grabs the dagger from Macbeth (baritone Thomas Hampson) in her impatience to finish off good King Duncan. She oogles courtiers in her brief rule as queen.

And Her Ladyship flashes lots of flesh when she straddles Macbeth, goading her mate to kill again. Saturday is the last night to catch this barn-burner at the Civic Opera House.

It's all in a day's work for Michael, 41, whose sexually charged star turns in "Salome" and "Médée" have hiked eyebrows -- and ticket sales -- soaring from London to Belgium.

From her perspective, Lady Macbeth is a brilliant ambitious woman, bitter at her role on the sidelines in a male-dominated society. Since sex is her only weapon, she uses it "to fulfill her dream for power," Michael said.

Disturbing? You bet.

"That's what's left of their marriage. The sex, the touching, the attention they give to each other, is never out of love, out of tenderness, of really wanting to be together, but much more out of power," she said. "It's brutal and it's absolutely not nice."

In real life, Michael is frank, candid and sexy and decidedly non-bloodthirsty. A one-time music student at Indiana University, she  bikes to work and champions family-style foster care through SOS Children's Villages (she visited an SOS home Tuesday on the South Side). She also is a doting mother of two. Her daughters, 7 and 8, are regulars at her performances.

Note: She briefs them on what to expect.

In "Médée," she sings the title role of a betrayed queen driven to violence. Her girls, sitting in the audience, sometimes warn patrons not to be scared of her. "They say, 'You know, Médée" turns crazy and kills children. But in reality our mother would never do that. She loves us,'" Michael said, laughing.

Calling all trick-or-treaters

Chicagoween kicks off today in Franken Plaza aka Daley Plaza.  The city's free, kid-friendly Halloween party runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sunday. Highlights include spooky stories, a costume parade (at noon Saturday), a Radio Disney road show (4:30 p.m. Saturday) Midnight Circus acrobats, and a screening of "Coraline" (5:45 p.m. Saturday). Bust your best zombie movies during the "Thriller" dance lessons (5 p.m. Sunday).

Grapevine

Fox's upcoming, Windy City-based cop dream "Ride-Along" has been rechristened "Chicago Code" ... It's neither Halloween nor Thanksgiving, but Macy's has started installing its 2010 Yule windows at the State Street store. Look for a salute to "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," the famous 1897 editorial in the New York Sun where newsman Francis P. Church assured a little girl that Santa exists "as certainly as love and generosity and devotion." The windows debut Nov. 6.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. Reach her at molly.woulfe@nwi.com or (219) 852-4329.

 

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