Music Reviews

A rousing “Tito” at Lyric

What: “La Clemenza di Tito” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: through March 23 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic La Clemenza di Tito” is a splendid example of Enlightenment thinking. The main theme is the exercise of power tempered by compassion. Tito rules Rome because his father wrested power from(…)

Review: “Rusalka”

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: through March 13 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic More than a century after it first premiered in Prague, Lyric Opera of Chicago has at last brought “Rusalka” to the Civic Opera House. Dvorak’s greatest opera is both beautiful and thought-provoking with Lyric’s treatment of(…)

Review: “Queenie Pie”

Where: Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St. When: through March 5 Phone: 312-704-8414 Web: chicagooperatheater.org By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Chicago Opera Theater (COT) opened its 40th season Saturday night with the Chicago premiere of Duke Ellington’s “Queenie Pie” at the Harris Theater. Variously known as a “jazz opera” or a “street opera” or(…)

Review: “The Barber of Seville”

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: through Feb. 28 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production of “The Barber of Seville” is suffused with gaiety, sparkle and laughs. Its sets and costumes effectively transport you to another time and place. The singing is entrancing. But what(…)

Spunky, sparkling quintets

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Chicago Ensemble is in its 37th season of presenting chamber music to Hyde Park audiences. One of the keys to its success is the programming of infrequently heard, oft-times unknown musical works. Artistic director Gerald Rizzer (also one of the founders of the group and its pianist) has(…)

Baroque Band delights

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Neither snow nor cold kept the Augustana Lutheran Church from hosting a large crowd Saturday night. Baroque Band has that kind of audience. Englishman Ian Watson was the guest director and harpsichordist for a program titled “Under the Influence,” which featured a fascinating collection of baroque gems. Conducting from(…)

Starting the New Year with the Old Year

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic New Year’s resolutions are about looking ahead. But the new year is also a time to try and start out afresh. With that in mind, in this week’s column I catch up on some interesting events late last year which I was unable to review in a timely manner.(…)

Review: “Die Fledermaus”

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: through Jan. 18 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic If you like to greet the new year with champagne and you love opera, you probably know that “Die Fledermaus” contains one of the most joyous musical tributes to champagne ever written. Lyric Opera is now(…)

“Parsifal” sets sights low

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic I’m sure there was a time when a “God is dead” approach to “Parsifal” would have been both shocking and fascinating. But it turns out you can’t kill God. Artists can’t, anyway. So the only way to go is to kill man. Not just a single hero. Not even(…)

Review: “Madama Butterfly”

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: Through Jan. 26 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lyric Opera of Chicago has a new production of “Madama Butterfly.” It’s simple, it’s pretty and it’s effective. The sets and costumes by Christopher Oram and the stage direction by Louisa Muller (of a revival originally(…)

Review: Don’t look back

What: Chicago Opera Theater’s “Orpheus and Euridice” by Ricky Ian Gordon Where: Eckhart Park Pool, 1330 W. Chicago Ave. When: Through Nov. 10 Phone: 312-704-8414 Web: chicagooperatheater.org Call for ticket prices By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Greek myth isn’t what it used to be. And by that I don’t mean the stories have changed, only(…)

Verdi’s “Otello” hits all the right notes

Verdi’s “Otello” hits all the right notes

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: through Nov. 2 Phone: 1-312-332-2244 By M.L. Rantala Classical Music Critic Verdi’s “Otello” never fails to offer rich opportunities for artists who are both splendid singers and actors. Opening night at Lyric Opera of Chicago proved this to be true yet again, with a splendid cast and(…)

High concept production fails to catch on fire

Where: Harris Theater in Millenium Park When: through Sept. 29 Phone: 312-704-8414 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Opera’s bread and butter has always been the historical drama. Giuseppe Verdi, whose 200th birthday is now being celebrated throughout Chicago, certainly had an output that contains some notable historical operas — “Don Carlos” and “Attila” coming(…)

Review: “Fantasie Négre” at the South Shore Cultural Center

By M.L. Rantala Classical Music Critic The Chicago Music Association was created in March of 1919 to provide a performance venue for classically trained Black musicians who had traditionally been denied access to major concert halls and opera houses throughout the U.S. In July of the same year, musicians from Washington, D.C., met with members(…)

Review: Grant Park festival draws to a memorable close

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Another season of the Grant Park Music Festival has come to a close, and it could not have happened on a more pleasant evening, as thousands filled the Pritzker Pavilion, the Great Lawn and other parts of Millennium Park. GPMF artistic director and principal conductor Carlos Kalmar kicked off(…)

Review: An evening of unworldly music

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Schubert’s stirring Mass in E-flat Major was the major work on the Grant Park Music Festival’s program Saturday night. Artistic director and principal conductor Carlos Kalmar presided over a large force: full orchestra, big chorus and five soloists. The results were splendid. Kalmar found all the majesty and glory(…)

“Aida” shines at Ravinia

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The stars twinkled above Ravinia Park on Saturday. The pavilion stage was also full of stars, as James Conlon led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a marvelous collection of soloists in a concert performance of Verdi’s “Aida.” Soprano Latonia Moore made her Ravinia debut, singing the title role with(…)

Review: Cool night, hot music

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic As a teenager, Jean Sibelius longed to be a great violinist. After aborting legal studies, he entered the Helsinki Music School (later renamed the Sibelius Academy) where he realized he would never be a violin virtuoso. He turned to composing, becoming not only his country’s most renowned and beloved(…)

Grant Park Orchestra triumphs in Millenium Park

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Last Wednesday, just as the heat wave began to lose steam, it was a perfect night for an outdoor concert. The Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park had gentle breezes which wafted the attractive scent of the foliage nearby. It was the perfect accompaniment to the music of the Grant(…)

Review: Keep on smiling

Where: 773 Theatre, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. When: through July 14 Contact: chicagofolksoperetta.org By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Chicago Folks Operetta has launched their 2013 season with the first Chicago production in some 25 years of Franz Lehár’s “The Land of Smiles” (“Das Land des Lächelns”). While Lehár is renowned for “The Merry Widow,”(…)