Duke Ellington’s “Queenie Pie”March 2014 • Harris Theater • Chicago
Kick back, savor the brassy big-band sounds served up by Lindberg and his marvelous Chicago Jazz Orchestra, and enjoy the performances by COT’s terrific singing actors and dancers”
Harold ReichChicago Tribune
Chicago Opera Theater (COT) in collaboration with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra (CJO) presented the Chicago premiere of Duke Ellington’s only opera Queenie Pie, featuring a rousing musical score that blends Ellington’s signature big band sound and clever lyrics with the musical styles of opera, jazz and musical theater.
About Queenie Pie
Queenie Pie is conducted by CJO Artistic Director Jeff Lindberg, with direction and choreography by Ken Roht. Originally commissioned by New York PBS affiliate WNET as a television piece for Lena Horne and featuring a libretto by Betty McGettigan, Queenie Pie was unfinished at the time of the Ellington’s death in 1974. Chicago Opera Theater’s production, like the handful of productions mounted by other companies in the past, interpolates additional songs from Ellington’s canon to complete the score, and features a new adaptation of the libretto by Ken Roht, as well as new orchestrations by Jeff Lindberg.
The Duke’s “street opera” roars with big-band sound. The story follows a Harlem belle in her quest for everlasting fame, showcasing a woman’s ambition to keep her title and her beau. Prestige, beauty, and racial divides are not the only make-over in this raucous affair fusing hot jazz with cool blues.