Hedy Weiss reviews the Lyric Opera production of “The Magic Flute,” a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert, and “Homecoming,” the latest entry in the CSO’s MusicNOW series.
Hedy Weiss: Theater Reviews
There are many fine performances and clarion ensemble voices in this production. But it is Curtis Bannister, as ragtime musician Coalhouse Walker Jr., who steals the show.
Thursday evening’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra program opened with “Coincident Dances,” a fascinating 2017 work by Jessie Montgomery, the orchestra’s current Mead Composer-in-Residence. She never fails to enthrall with her rhythmically complex, richly orchestrated, highly original pieces.
An estimated 2,000 people cheered the company’s superb artists as they took to the stage Saturday to perform a series of works, including a preview of “Goshen, The Story of Exodus.”
In their first major live performance since the pandemic began, members of Giordano Dance Chicago were in grand style and exceptional form.
Thursday’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert began as guest conductor James Conlon turned to the audience and announced the news that Bernard Haitink, the world-renowned and much beloved conductor with strong ties to the CSO, had died earlier in the day at his home in London at the age of 92.
It was an evening of multiple celebrations Saturday as Chicago’s Ensemble Español Spanish dance company arrived on the stage of the Auditorium Theatre in full regalia to mark the return of live performance in the landmark hall following its pandemic shutdown.
The show is not some crazy remake of the musical “Hair,” but rather a raucous, playful and exceedingly clever reimagined take on Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”
With its ideally titled program, “Home: A Celebration,” the Joffrey Ballet finally made its pandemic-delayed debut as the resident dance company at the Lyric Opera House on Wednesday. And it did so by way of a beautifully constructed and exquisitely danced program.
On the heels of the recent triumphant return to live concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has announced its extensive programming plans for the remainder of the 2021 season and the first half of the 2022 season.
Among the shows that have marked the return of live theater in Chicago are three very different music-driven works variously set in the final three decades of the 20th century. Seen during present day upheaval, as well as through the lens of their original conception, the result is an intriguing double vision.
Maestro Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the third program of his fall residency with an intriguing juxtaposition of three works: Missy Mazzoli’s 2006 “These Worlds in Us”; Russian composer Anatoly Liadov’s 1908 tone poem, “The Enchanted Lake”; and finally, Tchaikovsky’s indisputable 1893 masterpiece, “Symphony No. 6 in B Minor (Pathetique).”
With her bravura one-woman performance in “Songs for Nobodies,” Bethany Thomas has clearly found the kind of star turn that can change a career, and a life, while unquestionably generating immense happiness, awe and bravos among her audiences.
Leonidas Kavakos — the Greek-born violinist who thrilled audiences with his performance of Beethoven’s 1806 “Violin Concerto in D Major” two years ago — returned to the stage with a galvanic rendering of Brahms’ 1878 “Violin Concerto in D Major,” leaving the packed house in a state of contained awe between movements.
Gaetano Donizetti’s beguiling romantic comedy is a delightful and winningly insightful tale of true love, money, egotism, self-doubt, wishful thinking and charlatanism. And, to top it all off, it comes with a happy ending.
The Lyric Opera production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Macbeth” — which marks both the ongoing pandemic-era reopening of the company’s renovated 3,200-seat theater, and the official start of Enrique Mazzola’s tenure as the company’s music director — is no standard witches’ brew.