Frank Maugeri addresses the possibility of going to space in his latest production, “The Icicle Picnic: Journey for the Sun.” (Liviu Pasare)

Given the current state of planet Earth, the concept of heading to outer space might not seem altogether out of the question. And leave it to Frank Maugeri to address the possibility of doing just that in his latest production, “The Icicle Picnic: Journey for the Sun.”

Conductor Marin Alsop leads the CSO and soloist Awadagin Pratt in the Orchestra’s first performance of CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery’s Rounds for Piano and String Orchestra. January 6, 2023. (Todd Rosenberg)

Female composers of centuries past might well have been smiling from afar Friday evening as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Marin Alsop, performed a program of three works by immensely gifted contemporary female composers.

The Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Pure, grand-scale magic. That is the only way to describe the Joffrey Ballet’s glorious production of “The Nutcracker,” which breaks the mold of the traditional version by being set against the grandeur of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.

A CSO co-commission, Lera Auerbach’s cello concerto, “Diary of a Madman” receives its U.S. premiere in a performance on Nov. 17, 2022, by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Gautier Capuçon as soloist and guest conductor Manfred Honeck. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Of course the performance of the concert’s three works, led with great elan and specificity by guest conductor Manfred Honeck, music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony, was superb. It was carried off with the kind of brilliance that only the musicians of the CSO can do.

The Joffrey Ballet performs the world premiere of the newly-commissioned “Platée” with choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa set to Rameau’s Suite from Platée performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with conductor Harry Bicket. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

It was an evening of sheer, unadulterated delight as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra joined forces with the Joffrey Ballet on Thursday for a pair of world premieres.

Taylor Ramos, left, and Emani Drake in “Vespers.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

In addition to the bravura performances of its dancers, the exuberant works of a number of different choreographers and the excellent group of musicians that gathered for its grand finale, the company attracted an impressively vast, immensely enthusiastic audience.

From left: Enrique Mazzola, Renee Fleming and Rod Gilfry. (Photo by Robert Kusel)

A love affair between two artists who share a gift for letter-writing. And then a wonderfully devised celebration of Broadway classics. Talk about a study in contrasts. You could not have found a more ideal example of just such a pairing of personalities and styles than the unusual concert performed last week on the Lyric Opera stage by the golden-voiced soprano Renee Fleming and baritone Rod Gilfry, both of whom can shift easily between opera and musical theater.

Anne E. Thompson, Kirsten Fitzgerald and Mary Beth Fisher in Rebecca Gilman’s “Swing State.” (Photo by Liz Lauren, provided)

"Swing State" is the 10th play by Rebecca Gilman to be staged at the Goodman Theatre in the past 25 years, and one of the last plays to be directed there by her long-time champion, Robert Falls, who is now working his way through his final season as the Goodman's artistic director.

Amanda Assucena and Edson Barbosa of the Joffrey Ballet dance in “Vespertine.” (Credit: Cheryl Mann)

The Joffrey Ballet spun onto the Lyric Opera House stage with a program of three beautifully danced works under the umbrella title “Beyond Borders.” Those “borders” were stylistic rather than geographical.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs on Oct. 6, 2022. (Credit: Anne Ryan)

A symphonic poem of exceptional beauty by Cesar Franck. A thrilling, grand-scale performance of a masterwork by Modest Mussorgsky. And a breathtaking rendering of a Mozart piano concerto featuring a young, award-winning pianist.

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater performs at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. (Courtesy of Ensemble Español)

As any traveler will tell you, a trip to Spain is invariably a great treat. But an evening spent with Chicago's Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater is, unquestionably, an ideal temporary substitute.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performs “Dichotomy of a Journey,” choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie. (Credit: Michelle Reid)

“Refraction” is the all-encompassing title of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s fall program at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and it marks the start of the celebrated company’s 45th anniversary “Sapphire” season.

From left to right, Wai Yim, Anthony Irons, Adeoye, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Christiana Clark, KaseyFoster and John Gregorioin perform in Mary Zimmerman’s “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci.” (Courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

A revival of “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci,” a testament to a unique imagination, is now playing at the Goodman Theatre. 

Heather Latakas, Molly Smith, Ali Calamoneri, Sara Anderson, Chris Large, Sterling Harris and Molly Eder of the Chicago Tap Theatre in “Allied, Unstoppable,” choreographed by Mark Yonally. (Credit: Paul Crisantii)

Chicago Tap Theatre danced onto the stage of the Athenaeum Theatre with 11 pieces by a variety of choreographers, all performed with the sort of percussive energy that suggested the COVID curse had better get out of town.

Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti and soloist Mitsuko Uchida acknowledge the audience following a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Feb. 17, 2022. (Credit : Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The pairing began with Beethoven’s demonically difficult 1806 “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major,” with Mitsuko Uchida as the incomparable soloist. And it was followed by Philip Glass’ “Symphony No. 11,” which had its world premiere in 2017, and now received a volcanic rendering by a monumental gathering of Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians.

Talia Langman leads the cast as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in “When There are Nine” at Pride Arts Center. (Credit: Tom McGrath / TCMcG Photography)

A new play about the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Pride Arts Center imagines her final reflections on a remarkable life.