Music Reviews

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,”(…)

Review: Chicago Ensemble closes season with flair

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Chicago Ensemble’s 36th Hyde Park season came to a close on the Sunday of Alumni Weekend with a pleasant afternoon concert at International House, 1414 E. 59th St., replete with champagne and many smiling faces. The concert opened with the Trio-sonata in C Major by J.J. Quantz, performed(…)

Review: A river runs through it

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic June 14, 1933, was a barrier-breaking day: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by Frederick Stock, premiered Symphony in E Minor by Florence Price. It was the first time a substantial work by a Black woman was performed by a major symphony orchestra. Price’s music was, sadly, never performed again(…)

Review: Murky Maria in a tango tangle

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The general director of Chicago Opera Theater (COT), Andreas Mitisek, isn’t shy about his role in the recent production of “Maria de Buenos Aires.” He’s credited in the program as “conductor, director, concept, video concept and production designer.” You’d think with a single mind behind so many of the(…)

Magyars make marvelous music

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic This season’s Classic Concert Series of the University of Chicago Presents came to a close a week ago Friday night in Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St., with a spirited performance by the Keller String Quartet: András Keller and Zsófia Környei, violins; Zoltán Gál, viola; and Judit Szabó, cello.(…)

Verdi’s Rigoletto

Verdi’s Rigoletto has an enduring place in the operatic canon because its music is divine and its story is unforgettable. Lyric Opera’s latest Rigoletto recently closed, but not without making a big impression. The greatest revelation in this current production is the lovely voice of soprano Albina Shagimuratova, whose Gilda is all that anyone could(…)

Puccini’s “La Bohème”

Puccini’s “La Bohème” is one of the world’s most popular operas and Lyric Opera of Chicago currently has a splendid production that treats doomed love with great tenderness. The star power of Anna Netrebko as Mimi has filled seats, but she also fills hearts with her stunning vocal ability, combined with deft and convincing acting.(…)

Lots to desire in “Streetcar”

By M.L. Rantala Classical Music Critic Renee Fleming has been Lyric Opera’s creative consultant since 2010, but in spite of this until last week she hadn’t appeared in an opera at Lyric during her tenure. She made up for this by headlining a special, four-performances-only, just-for-subscribers production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The operatic treatment(…)

Salonen charms in cohoots with Yo-Yo Ma

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, principal conductor and artistic advisor of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, returned once again recently to wintry Chicago to lead the CSO and to collaborate with one of the world’s most admired cellists. Saturday night, March 2, at Symphony Center, Salonen opened a well-proportioned concert with a(…)

The House of Usher, minus the fall

The House of Usher, minus the fall

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Fall of the House of Usher” is Edgar Allan Poe’s greatest prose work, a gloomy, murky story of a mysterious man, his even more mysterious sister and the creepy house that has been their family home for generations. Although only a short story, there is more than enough(…)

Review Splendid performance showcases the new Mandel Hall

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Mandel Hall has a spruced up new look: new carpet, paint, stenciling, seats, acoustical clouds and sprinkler system. The space has the same elegant feel as before, now accentuated with a new brightness and shine. It’s a splendid improvement on an already splendid performance space. It was in this(…)

Celebrating Dr. King, President Obama and Black Liberation

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critics Inauguration Sunday found Music in the Loft hosting a sold-out recital that honored the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., commemorated the second inauguration of Barack Obama and celebrated the notable successes of African Americans in fighting oppression. The program of all American music was created and performed by(…)

Review “Hänsel und Gretel”

Review “Hänsel und Gretel”

Where: Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: through Jan. 19 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Fairy tales are an entertaining way of teaching children lessons, often laced with moral instruction. Lyric Opera is now offering a particularly entertaining version of the famous story of “Hänsel und Gretel” in the form(…)

Winter concerts to warm music fans

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic There’s lots of hot music to come during the cold opening months of 2013, including several interesting performances right here in the neighborhood. University of Chicago Presents resumes on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m., with a Contempo concert featuring the music of University of Chicago composers Anthony Cheung,(…)

Review “Tickling the ivories at I-House”

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Earlier this month at I-House, the Chicago Ensemble presented a pleasing concert devoted to piano trios. Mathias Tacke (violin), Andrew Snow (cello) and Gerald Rizzer (piano), performed a wide range of material in an engaging manner. The concert opened with Beethoven’s Trio No. 5 in D Major, op 70,(…)

Zany “Don Pasquale” delights

RECOMMENDED Where: Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: through Dec. 15 Tickets: $32-$239 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Hilarity and hijinks are the watchwords at Lyric Opera of Chicago with the opening of “Don Pasquale.” Donizetti’s silly romp is given zesty treatment and is sure to please any fan of(…)

Review Salonen sparkles in Chicago visit

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Esa-Pekka Salonen brought the London-based Philharmonia Orchestra to Chicago last week for just one concert Wednesday night featuring two splendidly rendered masterworks. The concert began with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2. After a big opening attack, Salonen conducted with restraint, skillfully drawing out the gracious elements of the score. The(…)

Celebration of the work of Max Janowski

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Last month Chicago A Cappella drew over three hundred people to K.A.M.I.I., across the street from the Obama house, for a celebration of the work of Max Janowski. With only a few exceptions, used for contrast, the program was entirely the music of Janowski, who served as music director(…)

The South Shore Opera Company

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The South Shore Opera Company of Chicago celebrated its 4th anniversary at a gala concert at the South Shore Cultural Center the last Saturday of October. While still a young group, they have been deft at audience development and a a good-sized crowd in the Paul Robeson theater. The(…)

New Logan Center charms

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Everyone’s talking about the new Logan Center, and with good reason. It’s big and in places beautiful, and while it’s short on bike racks, it’s long on interesting events. Last Tuesday the University of Chicago Presents brought Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante to the Performance Hall at Logan Center,(…)