Music Reviews

Hallelujah! A splendid “Messiah” in Chatham

Hallelujah! A splendid “Messiah” in Chatham

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic One of the classical music staples of the holiday season is Handel’s “Messiah.” It had been many years since I had last heard a “Messiah” at Christmas time and so I was delighted to learn that Chicago has a plethora of choices when it comes to this masterpiece, not(…)

A backyard Magic Flute from Lyric Opera

A backyard Magic Flute from Lyric Opera

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: “The Magic Flute” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Jan. 27 Tickets: Lyricopera.org Lyric Opera of Chicago has launched a new production of ‚“The Magic Flute” just in time for the holidays. Mozart’s comic opera about love and brotherhood is the perfect way to spend(…)

A back yard Magic Flute from Lyric Opera

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: “The Magic Flute” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Jan. 27 Tickets: Lyricopera.org Lyric Opera of Chicago has launched a new production of “The Magic Flute” just in time for the holidays. Mozart’s comic opera about love and brotherhood is the perfect way to spend(…)

Järvi leads CSO in Sibelius and Prokofiev: hot music from the cold north

Järvi leads CSO in Sibelius and Prokofiev: hot music from the cold north

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic   The small eastern European country of Estonia lies just west of Russia and just south (across the Gulf of Finland) of Finland. So it is not surprising that when Estonia’s most famous conductor took up the baton for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last week that his program was(…)

Mid-century modern: Contempo offers humor and  absurdity

Mid-century modern: Contempo offers humor and absurdity

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Composer and University of Chicago professor Ralph Shapey created the Chicago Contemporary Players in 1964 as an ensemble dedicated to the performance of contemporary classical music. It was renamed Contempo in 2004. To kick off its 52nd season this past weekend, artistic director Marta Ptaszynska created something of a(…)

American songs and an American opera

American songs and an American opera

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Every now and again I make a point to hear music outside of Chicago. Two Fridays ago I didn’t travel that far, but as I rarely get to Naperville, I was delighted to visit the Bethany Lutheran Church to hear NYC-based baritone Kenneth Overton. The recital put Overton’s rich(…)

Review: A Marvelous and Moving “Don Quichotte”

Review: A Marvelous and Moving “Don Quichotte”

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: “Don Quichotte” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Dec. 7 Tickets: Lyricopera.org For the first time in nearly a quarter century, Lyric Opera of Chicago has brought “Don Quichotte” to the Civic Opera House. This new-to-Chicago production, which premiered at the San Diego Opera, is(…)

Supermoon over Troy: “Les Troyens” at last comes to Lyric

Supermoon over Troy: “Les Troyens” at last comes to Lyric

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: “Les Troyens” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Dec. 3 Tickets: Lyricopera.org The rarely performed “Les Troyens” has come to Lyric Opera of Chicago for the very first time. It is Hector Berlioz’s operatic retelling of parts of the “Aeneid” — a sprawling work never(…)

A magnificent opera about a magnificent woman

A magnificent opera about a magnificent woman

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic During his final appearance at the White House press correspondents’ dinner, Barack Obama joked that if his remarks went over well he could, in years to come, deliver them to Goldman Sachs and “earn some serious Tubmans.” When the new Harriet Tubman 20-dollar-bill enters circulation it’s likely that Obama’s(…)

Review: Nothing to laugh at in “The Fairy Queen”

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: “The Fairy Queen” Where: The Studebaker Theater (410 S. Michigan Ave.) When: Through Nov. 13 Contact: chicagooperatheater.org Chicago Opera Theater re-introduced the Studebaker Theater, newly renovated, to Chicago audiences Saturday night with the opening of “The Fairy Queen” by Purcell, making this production the first time in 40(…)

A scorching “Lucia” at Lyric and sizzling sound from Apollo’s Fire in Hyde Park

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: “Lucia di Lammermoor” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Nov. 6 Tickets: Lyricopera.org Lyric Opera of Chicago unveiled its second production of the season Saturday night to an audience stunned by its musical brilliance and dramatic force. This rendering of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” is(…)

Mining Rheingold for laughs

What: “Das Rheingold” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Oct. 22 Tickets: Lyricopera.org By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Richard Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” is one of opera’s monumental achievements and it requires considerable forces to mount the composer’s four operas with some three dozen characters, about 15 total hours in(…)