Second Nature

Lei and I attended a performance of Second Nature today and really loved it. It was a rare treat to be so close to the performers and be moved by a work that speaks directly to young people about their decisions relative to the natural world.

Second Nature, a one-act opera presented by the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Second Nature, a one-act opera presented by the Lyric Opera of Chicago

The opera is set in the exact place where we watched it, Lincoln Park Zoo, but in a post-apocalyptic world where Chicago is an island and nature is viewed as hostile and dangerous. The two protagonists, tweens Lydia and Jake, defy the rules of their “habitat” and leave to explore the natural world.

My favorite character was the Bonobo, who ignited Lydia’s and Jake’s desire to leave their synthetic environment. He has this wonderful line that just blew me away: “You [humans] played with Nature, and Nature played rough.”

After the performance we were able to meet the cast, though Lei really wanted to meet the costume designer, Sally Dolembo, but she had already left. Instead Lei spent quite a while talking to Sylvia Szadovszki, who played Lydia. Ms. Szadovszki encouraged Lei to keep playing piano (thanks!!!) and they exchanged email addresses. It was really awesome to see my girl fawned over by accomplished people … what can I say? My maternal heart was bursting!

And I got to tell the composer, Matthew Aucoin, how moved I was at two major points that I won’t disclose because spoilers. I know those points are intentionally crafted to be moving, but I wanted to tell him that what he did worked. It was such effective storytelling, I just had to seek him out and let him know how much.

Everyone we spoke with represented the Lyric Opera extremely well. The accessibility people worked hard to accommodate Lei’s communication needs, and kept me in the loop by calling me at least twice. They hired an interpreter, but the interpreter backed out when she realized she would have to read the score to follow along. Instead they gave Lei and I copies of the piano and vocal score, which was really really cool!

When I spoke with the person who called to give me the bad news about the interpreter, and she told me they will make sure to have an interpreter at the October 17 performance at a local school, I suggested she publicize the event to the deaf and hard-of-hearing programs in Chicago schools. She was both receptive and enthusiastic about welcoming more d/hoh students to see Second Nature.

If you are interested in seeing it this week at Lincoln Park Zoo, I believe some seats will be available if you show up at the performances and, oh by the way, they are FREE. For more information you can see the delightfully conceptualized program online.


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