Music Reviews

Tears of a clown

Tears of a clown

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” is a cornerstone of operatic verismo, a compact powerhouse of human emotion and tragedy, clocking in at about 70 minutes. Because it’s short, it’s nearly always placed on a double-bill, but for their inaugural production, Chicago’s newest opera company, The Cobalt Opera, chose to let “Pagliacci”(…)

Mälkki and Midori at Ravinia

M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Last month, Susanna Mälkki made her Ravinia debut conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She’s become one of the female conductors to watch since she left her position as principal cellist of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to study conducting at the Sibelius Academy. She’s begun to make a name for herself(…)

Fun and frolic at the “Ball at the Savoy”

Fun and frolic at the “Ball at the Savoy”

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Paul Abraham’s “Ball at the Savoy” (original German title: “Ball im Savoy”) is a frisky, frothy concoction jam-packed with soaring melodies, uproarious ditties, grand dance numbers and lots of wholesome fun. Chicago Folks Operetta’s American premiere is a splendid way to spend a summer evening; you’re likely to come(…)

A trip to South Shore, a journey through the Planets

A trip to South Shore, a journey through the Planets

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Summer in Chicago is a time of free outdoor enjoyment. For classical music lovers, the main venues are Millennium Park and Ravinia. But the South Shore Cultural Center has already had some splendid offerings at no charge. Last week, the Grant Park Orchestra traveled to the South Shore Cultural(…)

Music on the Midway Plaisance

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Today I catch up by reporting on two recent events for which there was insufficient space at the time I heard them to review them immediately. They each happened just off Hyde Park’s Midway Plaisance, but in two very different venues. First, I was tempted to visit the Performance(…)

Compelling composition in clerical garb

Compelling composition in clerical garb

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Hans von Bülow, the 19th century German conductor, pianist and composer, famously declared that Verdi’s Requiem was an “opera in clerical garb.” The same might be said of Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass, although the Slavic nationalism of this towering work is equally present. The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, along(…)

South Shore Opera Company presents sizzling concert

South Shore Opera Company presents sizzling concert

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic It was a generous evening of music when the South Shore Opera Company of Chicago presented their free June concert in the spacious Paul Robeson Theater. This gleaming hall is one of the many gorgeous rooms in the South Shore Cultural Center where the SSOCC is an arts and(…)

Homage to Catalonia

Homage to Catalonia

Joan Plana speaks several European languages, but his native language, Catalan, is unknown to the average American. He makes himself understood not only in excellent English, but in the language of music. Plana was born and raised in the Lleida province of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain. Today this talented baroque violinist is based(…)