Music Reviews

A trio of concerts: from Hyde Park to the South Loop

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Philip Glass, one of the world’s most popular and influential living composers, capped off a three-day residency at the University of Chicago at the end of February with a concert devoted to his entire output of piano etudes. Glass himself and four other pianists, hosted by University of Chicago(…)

Review: “Der Rosenkavalier”

Review: “Der Rosenkavalier”

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Mar. 13 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lyric Opera of Chicago is now presenting the comic masterpiece “Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss. It premiered in 1911 in Dresden and came to Lyric, when it first staged the work at the Civic Opera House(…)

I-House and Harris  Theater host unusual performances

I-House and Harris Theater host unusual performances

What: “La Voix Humaine” and “Gianni Schicchi” Where: Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph St.) When: Through Feb. 14 Tickets: cot.org By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The opening night for the first of two performances of a double bill proved to be a winner for Chicago Opera Theater on Saturday. General director Andreas Mitisek has(…)

A towering “Nabucco” at Lyric Opera shows off Verdi’s early masterpiece

What: “Nabucco” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Feb. 12 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lyric Opera of Chicago’s first new offering of the year is “Nabucco,” the opera which helped to establish Verdi early in his career. This production features stellar singing, dramatic stage dressing, and unusual costumes(…)

McGill and Marlboro musicians at Mandel: red hot chamber music

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Marlboro Music Festival, founded in 1951 by Rudolf Serkin and several others, takes place over seven weeks every summer at Marlboro College in southern Vermont. Experienced musicians work with and mentor young talent. They all study and rehearse great works of the chamber music repertoire and offer public(…)

A splendid evening spent in the 14th century with the Newberry Consort

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lots of concerts are presented under an umbrella title that attempts to both accurately describe the links among the various works performed and offers an appealing concept to the public. But usually the concept is over-broad (“Love and War”) with the music unable to effectively support the dramatic idea.(…)

Let us be merry, put sorrow away: Anonymous 4 at Rockefeller Chapel

Let us be merry, put sorrow away: Anonymous 4 at Rockefeller Chapel

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic This is the time of year when even the most hard-hearted among us stop and take pause when they hear good, cheering holiday music. Rockefeller Chapel was stuffed full on Sunday afternoon for a concert of Christmas music of another kind: Of the kind most of us have never(…)

Review: Emerging composers first opera: flawed yet glorious

Review: Emerging composers first opera: flawed yet glorious

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: “Bel Canto” by Jimmy Lopez Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Jan. 17, 2016 Phone: 312-332-2244 Critics of opera sometimes laugh off the art form as irrelevant. Lyric Opera of Chicago’s first main stage world premiere in over a decade is anything but that. “Bel(…)

Review: A string quartet to remember

Review: A string quartet to remember

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic University of Chicago Presents offered up the Arcanto Quartet as their final guests of the 2015 calendar year in its Classic Concert Series at Mandel Hall last month. It was the string quartet’s Chicago debut and they made the most of it, performing music by Bach, Schumann and Smetana(…)

Review: Dazzling fortepiano on the Midway

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The fortepiano, the immediate precursor of today’s piano, could well have been consigned to oblivion but for the period instrument movement of the last century. The fortepiano was remarkable in its day, created around 1700 by an Italian harpsichord maker. Initially, the instruments were very expensive and only royalty(…)

A Merry Rom-Com at Lyric Opera

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: Lehár’s “The Merry Widow” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 North Wacker Dr. When: Through Dec. 13 Phone: 312-332-2244 The holiday season is now upon us and that means that you can count on Lyric Opera of Chicago to have a feel-good opera on tap. This year it’s Franz Lehár’s(…)

Review: Unforgettable “Wozzeck” at Lyric Opera

What: Alban Berg’s “Wozzeck” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 North Wacker Dr. When: Through Nov. 21 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Alban Berg’s “Wozzeck” is one of the 20th century’s great art masterpieces. The new production currently on offer at Lyric Opera of Chicago is a thoughtful and searing depiction of a common(…)

Review: Fine Hyde Park performance of rarely heard music

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Gerald Rizzer has a knack for finding music with appeal and merit that most people haven’t heard before. He programs works spanning from the baroque period to this century written for a wide range of different small ensemble configurations. For 38 years Rizzer, the pianist, artistic director and founder(…)

Review: A clutch of little-known operas

Where: Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave. When: through Nov. 8 Contact: thirdeye.com By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, a company formed a year ago, is now presenting the Midwest and Chicago premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s opera “Sumeida’s Song” at the Prop Thtr (3502 N. Elston Ave.). It is the haunting(…)

Review: An enchanting “Cinderella”

Review: An enchanting “Cinderella”

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: through Oct. 30 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Before the first note sounded, before the curtain went up, before I even arrived at the Civic Opera House, I couldn’t help but notice something different at the opera on Saturday night. There were quite a(…)

University of Chicago Presents

The University of Chicago Presents season got underway Friday night at Mandel Hall with a program of diverting music given a masterful treatment by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble. The evening opened with Mozart’s Divertimento in D, K.136/125a. The five string players (the usual voices of a string quartet plus(…)

Review: Dueling keyboardists and a fist full of arias

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Baroque Band opened its 2015-16 season in Hyde Park at the Augustana Lutheran Church on Saturday night with music that put the spotlight on both harpsichord and fortepiano. The guest soloist for the former was harpsichordist and conductor Ian Watson with the soloist for the latter being Baroque Band’s(…)

Review: Chicago bathed in Mozart Operas

By M.L. Rantala Classical Music Critic What: Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 North Wacker Dr. When: Through Oct. 24 Phone: 312-332-2244 And What: Mozart’s “Lucia Silla” Where: Harris Theater , 205 E. Randolph St. When: Through Oct. 4 Contact: chicagooperatheater.org The Chicago opera season opened with a splash on Saturday with(…)