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CMPI fellow Zachary Allen participates in a coaching session with CSO Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti on March 31, 2021. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

This is not a review. It is primarily a note of appreciation to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director, who has not been able to conduct his beloved orchestra for a year but has helped guide the superb CSOtv series. This week, he also pursued one of his greatest passions via Zoom.

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From left: Ariana Burks, Shantel Cribbs and Melanie Loren in “Chicago Sings Rock & Roll Broadway” from Porchlight Music Theatre. (Courtesy of Porchlight Music Theatre)

True to its title, this lavish production traces the evolution of Broadway scores from the 1960s until now, and explores the many ways in which pop music (as well as modern life) has expanded and altered the sound of musical theater.

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(Courtesy of Marco Badiani and The Florentine)

How do you tell the story of a musical genius whose operas are among the most beloved works in the Italian opera canon? If you are Hershey Felder, you create something unabashedly in the grand opera style that also manages to be hugely accessible for audiences still distanced from live performance by COVID-19.

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William DeMeritt in “The Catastrophist.” (Photo courtesy of Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre)

Lauren Gunderson’s new 75-minute play about her husband, acclaimed virologist Nathan Daniel Wolfe, is a riveting one-man meditation about life and death and the nature of viruses. It’s now being streamed by Northlight Theatre.

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Florence Price (Courtesy of the CSO)

Programs framed by Bach and Beethoven are streaming now as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s virtual series, CSOtv. Here’s a look at Episode #13 and #14.

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Leah Dexter and Michael Mayes in “Taking Up Serpents.” (Sean Su / Chicago Opera Theater)

While most of this country’s major opera companies are suffering the painful slings and arrows of the pandemic scourge, Chicago Opera Theater continues to soldier on. And its latest production is another example of its musical, theatrical and thematic daring.

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Anais Bueno with Brooke Linford and Christine Roca (Courtesy of the Joffrey Ballet)

Two thrillingly dramatic works — one by way of dance and another by way of radio theater — now serve as vivid evocations marking the one-year “anniversary” of the pandemic, and all the physical and psychological dislocations it has engendered. 

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Enrique Mazzola, music director designate at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot)

“Sole e Amore,” Enrique Mazzola’s newest project, will include two dozen songs by seven of the most beloved Italian opera composers of the 19th century, performed by 11 members of the Ryan Opera Center, Lyric’s renowned artist development program.

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A scene from “Before Fiddler: Hershey Felder as Sholem Aleichem.” (Courtesy of Hershey Felder)

Streaming through Sunday, “Before Fiddler” is the latest of the many remarkable feats of musical storytelling from Hershey Felder, the multitalented writer, actor, pianist and producer renowned for his solo shows about composers.

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(Illustration by Rajiv Joseph)

Any description of Rajiv Joseph’s mini-play — the newest entry in Steppenwolf Theatre’s NOW series of virtual programming that runs about 11 minutes — might make it sound like just a quick virtual doodle. But it is much more than that.

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Associate Concertmaster Stephanie Jeong. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s CSOtv Sessions series is, without question, the finest virtual music treasure created in response to the COVID-19 plague year. Those who have yet to revel in its delights are encouraged to catch its two newest entries: Episodes #11 and #12.

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Illusionist, mentalist and performance artist Scott Silven in “The Journey,” streaming live at Chicago Shakespeare Theater through Jan. 24, 2021. (Photo: David Wilkinson, Empirical Photography)

Created and performed by Scott Silven, a young actor, writer, illusionist, mentalist and masterful storyteller, “The Journey” is a mesmerizing riff on time, space, memory, human connection, and the tricks that our very own existence can play on us.

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(Courtesy Remy Bumppo Theatre Company)

Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has long been the standard-bearer of the December theater season. But a subsequent and far less familiar novella is now receiving a bravura solo rendition courtesy of Remy Bumppo Theatre.

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Hershey Felder in “A Paris Love Story.” (Credit: Christopher Ash)

For several decades, Hershey Felder has created a series of richly theatrical biographies of great composers. His latest work, “A Paris Love Story,” follows that essential pattern but adds a heartbreaking layer of autobiography.

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Mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen in “Rimsky Rebooted.” (Credit: Sean Su for Chicago Opera Theater)

With the coronavirus pandemic foiling plans for a trio of live performances, Chicago Opera Theater has adapted its 2020-2021 season to be a primarily virtual one. 

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Assistant Concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The doors of Chicago’s Symphony Center may be closed to its audiences until the pandemic has been conquered. But its stage is still very much alive.