Stories by hedy weiss

Muti and CSO Pay Homage to Verdi With a Monumental Concert Performance of ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’

(Credit Todd Rosenberg)

Thursday evening’s bravura production was a major event in Muti’s penultimate season as the CSO’s music director. And it was a grand homage to both the composer whose work he has long cherished, and the orchestra he has embraced and nurtured since becoming its music director in 2010.

‘cullud wattah’ Shows the Toxic Effects of Polluted Water and Corrupt Politics on Michigan Family

Brianna Buckley, Demetra Dee, Renee Lockett and Sydney Charles in “cullad wattah” at the Victory Gardens Theatre. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

The Flint water environmental catastrophe, with its strong racial overtones, is at the core of “cullud watta,” the expertly written play by Erika Dickerson-Despenza. Her powerful story of three generations of Black women, now receiving a fiercely emotional regional premiere at Victory Gardens Theater, is a model for how to fully humanize a social crisis.

Saved by the Understudy: Lina Gonzalez-Granados Steps in for Maestro Muti

The CSO’s Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprentice Lina González - Granados leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C Minor. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

With the pandemic still bedeviling live performance these days understudies have become heroic figures. Now, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has its very own “last minute hero” story, too. 

Three Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerts to Remember

Conductor James Gaffigan leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program with works by Saint-Saëns, Saint-Saëns Mussorgsky (Orch. Rimsky-Korsakov), and Tchaikovsky. (Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Performed earlier this month, a trio of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts led by guest conductors and featuring guest violinists deserve to be chronicled.

Broadway Star Kelli O’Hara Spins a Marvelous Web of Broadway Classics and Hidden Gems

 Kelli O’Hara performs with the CSO led by conductor Steve Reineke at 2022 Corporate Night event. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Tony Award-winning Broadway star Kelli O’Hara performed a bravura solo concert Thursday accompanied by that ever dazzling “band,” the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Joffrey’s Production of ‘Don Quixote’ Taps Into Grandeur and Comedy of Cervantes’ Novel

Victoria Jaiani as Kitri in "Don Quixote." (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

The production not only ideally captures the mix of the comical, satirical, fantastical and romantic aspects of Miguel de Cervantes’ story, but with its beautiful sets, costumes, projections, puppets and aerial tricks it also is an ideal showcase for the Joffrey.

A Boffo Debut for the Black Ensemble Theater’s Multi-Talented New Associate Director

“Grandma’s Jukebox” is an intriguing psychological family drama that homes in on the particular fears, frustrations and needs of each of that woman’s four rather different and troubled grandchildren, and featuring periodic outbursts from the somewhat haunted jukebox that has long held a place in their grandmother’s living room. (Credit: Alan Davis)

Michelle Renee Bester’s 90-minute show is a quasi-autobiographical story that pays homage to her late grandmother. It spins an intriguing psychological family drama that homes in on the particular fears, frustrations and needs of each of that woman’s four rather different and troubled grandchildren. 

Celebrating the Enduring Magic of The Temptations With ‘Ain’t Too Proud’

From left, Marcus Paul James, Jalen Harris, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Harrell Holmes Jr., James T. Lane from the National Touring Company of “Ain’t Too Proud”. (Credit: Emilio Madrid)

“Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations” is an exhilarating, at times heartbreaking, and superbly executed musical now in an all too brief run at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago.

With ‘Two Trains Running,’ Court Theatre Stages Its Latest Rousing Revival of an August Wilson Classic

Joseph Primes, Alfred H. Wilson, A.C. Smith, Jerod Haynes and Kierra Bunch in the Court Theatre’s production of “Two Trains Running.” (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

“Two Trains Running” is one of the finest plays in August Wilson’s renowned 10-play “Century Cycle” that captures elements of Black life in each decade of the 20th century. And Court Theatre’s latest revival of this seminal work is not to be missed.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Dives Fearlessly Into an Emotionally Feverish Program

Conductor Karina Canellakis in her CSO debut led a program featuring music by Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Schumann and Richard Strauss (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Guest conductor Karina Canellakis led the CSO in “Brio” (by Augusta Read Thomas); Robert Schumann’s lushly beautiful “Piano Concerto in A Minor” (featuring pianist Kirill Gerstein); and finally “Ein Heldenlaben (A Heroic Life),” Richard Strauss’ sweeping, fiercely emotional tone poem.

The Uncanny Resonance of ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ Now Playing Limited Run at Cadillac Palace Theatre

A North American touring production of “Fiddler on the Roof” is playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago through May 22. (Credit: Joan Marcus)

The current touring production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” playing Chicago for only one week, is an ideal example of how “a classic” can have a whole new resonance at this very moment.

Pianist Evgeny Kissin Sends Audience at Orchestra Hall Flying High on Chopin

Pianist Evgeny Kissin (Credit: Sasha Gusov)

The first half of Evgeny Kissin’s program was devoted to the triumvirate of the masters — Bach, Mozart and Beethoven — and he mastered them all. But it was the second half of the program, devoted entirely to Chopin that clearly held the audience in thrall.

Hubbard Street’s Dancers Soar in ‘Decadance,’ a Stunning Patchwork of Ohad Naharin’s Work

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Decadance Chicago by Ohad Nahain. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The company’s 15 sensational dancers performed “Decadance/Chicago,” a superbly mixed-and-matched compilation of segments from nine of Naharin’s works. They were created between the years 1993 to 2011, during his long tenure as Artistic Director of Israel’s fabled Batsheva Dance Company.

Lookingglass Theatre Company Stages Bravura, Out-of-This-World Revival of Its Classic ‘Lookingglass Alice’

Lindsey Noel Whiting as Alice in the Lookingglass production of “Lookingglass Alice.” (Credit: Liz Lauren)

The absolutely brilliant (and at moments terrifying) production of “Lookingglass Alice,” the namesake show of Lookingglass Theatre, first arrived on a Chicago stage in 1988. It has now been thrillingly revised and remounted on the company’s uniquely rigged stage. 

Love Eludes the Most Loving in Lynn Nottage’s ‘Intimate Apparel’

At the “Intimate Apparel’s” center is Esther (Mildred Marie Langford), a gifted seamstress, who fashions elaborate corsets for a wide range of women. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Throughout this play, Lynn Nottage explores the notion of intimacy in a multitude of ways, suggesting how different social classes, different ethnicities, and different sexes can connect, confide in, and also betray each other. Overall, “Intimate Apparel” is as meticulously crafted as its main character’s creations.

Yefim Bronfman Sets the Keyboard on Fire in Orchestra Hall Performance

Yefim Bronfman is pictured in a provided publicity photo. (Credit: Frank Stewart)

Pianist Yefim Bronfman performed galvanic renderings of Beethoven and an immensely challenging modernist work at his Sunday afternoon Orchestra Hall performance. 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra in All Its Glory in Two Concerts

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’sSymphonyNo. 6 in F Major on April 28, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The world may be in a terrible state of upheaval at the moment, but two different concerts performed during the past week — played brilliantly by the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — were a potent reminder that music is an astonishingly powerful emotional balm.

Porchlight Stages Searing Production of ‘Spring Awakening,’ With Chilling Connection to This Moment

(L to R) Maya Lou Hlava and Jack DeCesare in “Spring Awakening” from Porchlight Music Theatre now playing at The Ruth Page Center through June 2. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Arriving at the very moment the Supreme Court appear to be poised to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision of a half-century ago, this haunting musical is infused with an intensity and a cry for help in the very midst of a retroactive movement.

Joffrey Ballet Pairs Balanchine Masterwork with a World Premiere Based on a Literary Classic

Gayeon Jung and Victoria Jaiani of the Joffrey Ballet perform in George Balancbine’s “Serenade.” (Credit: Cheryl Mann)

For its spring season at the Lyric Opera House, the Joffrey Ballet has devised a program composed of two dramatically and stylistically different works.

World Premiere Opera ‘Quamino’s Map’ Gives Voice to Rarely Chronicled Aspect of Black History

Chicago Opera Theater’s cast of “Quamino’s Map.” (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

An exploration of a little-known and fascinating aspect of Black history, “Quamino’s Map” features an exquisite score by Errollyn Wallen, an expertly crafted, character-defining libretto by Deborah Brevoort, an ideal cast under the deft direction of Kimille Howard, and a superb orchestra led by conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson.

A Breathtaking Performance of a Mahler Masterpiece by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Guest conductor Jaap van Zweden leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s “Symphony No. 6 in A Minor” on April 21, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Breathtaking is nowhere near a powerful enough adjective to describe Gustav Mahler’s masterwork, “Symphony No. 6 in A Minor,” or its bravura rendering by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that was led by guest conductor Jaap van Zweden. 

Marriott’s ‘The Sound of Music’ Marks the Magnificent Rebirth of a Classic

The cast of Mariott Theater’s “The Sound of Music” (Courtesy: Liz Lauren)

Some people understandably roll their eyes at the very thought of seeing "The Sound of Music" again. But Marriott’s production’s naturalistic yet fully theatrical quality, along with its subtle sense of dramatic rhythm, creates a level of profound emotion that too often is lost in revivals of this show.

A Stunning Night as the CSO Soars Under Baton of Brilliant Conductor and Violin Soloist

Conductor Klaus Makela performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on April 14, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg photography)

If you needed to be reminded of the genius of two groundbreaking early 20th century composers or hoped for an introduction to a fascinating contemporary composer, Thursday’s concert of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra unquestionably lived up to expectations.

Renee Elise Goldsberry Channels ‘Hamilton’s’ Angelica Schuyler and a Great Deal More

Renee Elise Goldsberry performs Saturday, April 9, 2022 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. (Credit: Joshua York)

Fans of the groundbreaking musical “Hamilton” will forever know Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law. Her one-night only performance at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre on Saturday captured the full power of her clarion voice and dramatic flair, as well as her formidable versatility.

Master Pianist Yuja Wang May Have Broken the Record for Encores (and More)

Yuja Wang performs a program with works by Bach, Beethoven, and Schoenberg, April 10, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg photography)

Yuja Wang’s astonishing concert at Orchestra Hall Sunday could easily serve as the ultimate proof that she is ever the virtuosic and unpredictable mistress of the keyboard. 

Korngold Festival Celebrates ‘Die Kathrin,’ an Opera About Enduring Love

Folks Operetta cast in “Die Kathrin” (Credit: Anthony Nguyen)

“Die Kathrin” is now receiving its American premiere as part of the ten-day multi-faceted Korngold Festival that concludes on April 10. It is being presented as part of a collaboration between the University of Chicago and Chicago’s Folks Operetta company designed to explore the life and work of Erich Wolfgang Korngold.