Stories by Hedy Weiss

Violinist Mark O’Connor, bassist Xavier Foley and violinist Maggie O’Connor perform an encore at the CSO MusicNOW concert on Nov. 21, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Composing the New by Interweaving the Old at CSO MusicNOW Concert

The exhilarating program featured five works by two composers — bassist Xavier Foley and violinist Mark O’Connor. All were superbly performed by various combinations of the composers, plus musicians drawn from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and guest violinist Maggie O’Connor.

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)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concert Captured Aspects of Ukraine War (and Far More) in Remarkable Ways

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 Berlin Philharmoniker at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall performed Mahler’s “Symphony No. 7” on Nov. 16, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Berlin Philharmoniker Performs Breathtaking Rendering of Mahler’s ‘Symphony No. 7’ at Orchestra Hall

Every one of the theater’s more than 2,500 seats had been snapped up for this one-night-only performance of Gustav Mahler’s wildly innovative, emotionally stunning “Symphony No. 7.” The piece is a monumental 85-minute work of great sonic magic and innovation. 

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)

A Beguiling Collaboration Between the CSO and Joffrey Ballet at Orchestra Hall

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)

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater Thrills Audience in a Knockout Performance at Auditorium Theatre

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.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan performs “13 Tongues.” (Credit: Liu Chen-hsiang)

Here Today and Gone Tomorrow: Great Short-Run Chicago Dance Programs That Should Not Be Forgotten

Should any further proof be needed that 2022 has lived up to its designation as “The Year of Chicago Dance,” the performances throughout the month of October alone — whether by resident companies or international visitors — serve as evidence the title is fully deserved.

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

Renee Fleming and Rod Gilfry Bring to Life Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz (and Broadway) in Lyric Opera Concert

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)

In 'Swing State,' Small Town Chaos Serves as Microcosm of Widespread Social Problems

"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 Soars in a Trio of Ballet Beauties

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)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Stellar Form with Mussorgsky, Franck, Mozart and a Brilliant Young Pianist

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)

Ensemble Español Lights Up the Auditorium Theatre Stage With Dazzling Footwork, Castanets and Exceptional Musicians

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)

Hubbard Street Dancers Flawless In Program That Needed Greater Variety

“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.

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in a program of works by Rossini, Mozart and Prokofiev on Sept. 29, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Muti Sets Orchestra Hall on Fire With Prokofiev Symphony

What truly set Orchestra Hall on fire came in the second half of the program as Maestro Riccardo Muti, in subtle but wonderfully expressive balletic form, led an altogether blazing performance of Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major,” a 1944 masterwork composed at the height of World War II.

From left, Reza Salazar as Rafael, Nedra Snipes as Letitia, Kevin Kenerly as Montrellous and Garrett Young as Jason in “Clyde’s” at the Goodman Theatre. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Goodman Theatre’s Production of “Clyde’s” Sets Powerful Play at Relentlessly High Pitch

Lynn Nottage’s most recent play, “Clyde’s — a nominee at last year’s Tony Awards that is now receiving a production at the Goodman Theatre — deals with a rarely explored but crucial issue. It’s the matter of the extreme difficulty faced by those who have been incarcerated and who, upon release, find it all but impossible to find a job.

Kristina Kadashevych of the Kyiv City Ballet. (Courtesy of Kyiv City Ballet)

Kyiv Ballet Continues to Dance Against the Darkness in Chicago Stop

One day before Ukraine was invaded by Russia earlier this year, the company unknowingly boarded one of the last flights out of Kyiv to Paris, the first stop on a planned tour. The company has not returned home since then.

Music Director Riccardo Muti opens his 13th year with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program that included the U.S. Premiere of Coleridge-Taylor’s “Solemn Prelude” and works by Brahms and Tchaikovsky. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Bravura Start to Maestro Muti’s Final Season as Music Director

If you needed to be reminded of the glorious sound Maestro Riccardo Muti has nurtured during his 13-year tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Thursday evening’s concert, marking the start of the 2022-23 season, served as a perfect example.

Tiffany Renee Johnson and Luigi Sottile in Lindsay Joelle’s “The Garbologists” at Northlight Theatre. (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

An Odd Couple’s Disposal of Public and Personal Garbage at Northlight Theatre

“The Garbologists” is an engaging, sharply written, and cleverly titled two-character play by Lindsay Joelle now receiving its first professional production by Northlight Theatre. The production follows two garbage collectors who have a competitive tension and developing connection. 

Dancers fly during Barrie Kosky’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Lyric Opera House. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

A Dramatically Different Take on the Enduring ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at Lyric Opera

Scaled to opera house grandeur, the production involves a total of 100 performers including a cast of strong actors, an ensemble of sensational dancers, a large chorus and the full Lyric Opera Orchestra.

Heidi Kettenring stars in the Marriott Theatre production of “Hello, Dolly!” (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Marriott Theatre’s ‘Hello, Dolly!’ Still Glowin,’ ‘Crowin’ and Goin’ Strong

In addition to its ideal cast, it is the seamless and often breathtaking dance sequences that set this production of “Hello, Dolly!” at Marriott Theatre apart. 

From left, Cindy Gold, Celeste M. Cooper and Sydney Charles in Steppenwolf Theatre’s “The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington” by James Ijames. (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

A Burlesque-Style Fantasy About ‘Miz Martha Washington,’ Slave Holder and First Lady, Opens at Steppenwolf

“I don’t come here to shame the founders (of our country), or in the case of my play, their spouses,” playwright James Ijames writes. “I come here to test the strength of their ideals.”

Celeste Williams, Eric Gerard and TayLar in Court Theatre’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

A Madhouse in Full Force in Court Theatre’s Wild and Crazy Production of ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

Court Theatre has opened its 2022-23 season with “Arsenic and Old Lace,” Joseph Kesselring’s maniacally zany 1941 Broadway hit that is probably most widely known by way of its 1944 film version starring Cary Grant and Boris Karloff.

“It Starts Now” by choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo was performed at the Harris Theater in Chicago on Sept. 8, 2022. (Credit: Kyle Flubacker)

A Transfixing Work of Dance Theater by Alejandro Cerrudo Unfolds at Harris Theater

It Starts Now is not an easy work to describe. It is a transfixing physical manifestation of human existence  epic in its emotional tension, its simultaneously real and mystical aura and its remarkable dancing.

Garvin Wolfe Van Dernoot as Kazimir Malevich, left, and John Drea as Marc Chagall in Grippo Stage Company’s “Chagall In School,” Sept. 6-Oct. 8, 2022 at Theatre Wit. (Credit: Anthony Robert LaPenna)

Art, Politics, History and Big Personalities Fill the Canvas in ‘Chagall In School’

It was in 1919 that Chagall assumed the position of commissar of arts for Vitebsk and founded the Vitebsk Art School, which opened its doors to all who wanted to pursue their artistic dreams. That marks the setting for a world premiere play. 

Chicago Dance Crash. (Credit: Ashley Deran)

A Pair of Spirit-Raising Performances Celebrate Chicago’s Dance Scene

Both events served as the latest vivid illustration of why 2022 has rightly been designated “The Year of Chicago Dance.”

Antonio Lysy as Franchomme, Boris Giltburg as Chopin, Hershey Felder as Liszt. (Courtesy: Hershey Felder Presents)

Genius and Envy: The Dynamic That Drives ‘Chopin & Liszt in Paris’

“Chopin & Liszt in Paris” is the latest “musical film” created by Hershey Felder, widely known to Chicago audiences for his years of live performances in the city. Felder portrays the flamboyant Liszt, but he performs a great deal of Chopin’s music as he spins the story of his complex artistic relationship with that composer.

Enrique Mazzola, Lyric Opera’s Music Director and Donald Lee III, the inaugural Ryan Opera Center conductor/pianist, led the Lyric Opera Orchestra and singers from the Ryan Opera Center’s esteemed training center on the stage of the Pritzker Pavilion, Aug. 21, 2022. (Credit: Kyle Flubacker)

Lyric Opera Stages Enticing Preview of 2022-23 Season in Millennium Park Concert

On Sunday evening, in the wake of a thunderous few days of the Chicago Air and Water Show, Enrique Mazzola, Lyric Opera’s Music Director (along with Donald Lee III, the inaugural Ryan Opera Center conductor/pianist), led the Lyric Opera Orchestra and singers from the Ryan Opera Center’s esteemed training center on the same stage of the Pritzker Pavillion.