The cast of the “The Factotum,” which made its world premiere at the Lyric Opera. (Credit: Cory Weaver)

The true magic of the opera “The Factotum” is rooted in its seamless interweaving of countless musical styles that take operatic voices into the realm of funk, rap, hip-hop, gospel, R&B, barbershop quartet and even electronic.

Rob Lindley and Hamid Dehghani in "Andy Warhol in Iran." (Michael Brosilow)

During the course of just 75 intensely compelling minutes that unfold entirely in a posh hotel room in Tehran in 1976, the play poses profound questions about both art and revolution and the forces that shaped two very different men.

Cast of “Albert Herring.” (Michael Brosilow)

The Chicago Opera Theater’s production of “Albert Herring” is alternately amusing and heartbreaking. To mark an early celebration of its 50th anniversary season, the ever-adventurous company has welcomed acclaimed British conductor Dame Jane Glover (DBE).

Samantha Hankey as Hansel and Heidi Stober as Gretel. (Cory Weaver)

Fairy tales do come true, but sometimes they arrive on the stage in the most fantastical way. “Hansel and Gretel” at the Lyric Opera House proves to be an altogether richly imaginative dramatic, musical and visual treat.

(Left to right) Gilbert Domally (Clifford Bradshaw) and Erica Stephan (Sally Bowles) in “Cabaret” from Porchlight Music Theatre. (Liz Lauren)

Read the headlines these days, and the sharply sardonic edge of “Cabaret" feels more chillingly ironic and on target than ever.

A take on “Moby Dick” opened the Chicago International Puppet Festival. (Credit: Christopher Raynaud deLage)

The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which runs through Jan. 29, will unquestionably change your conception on how puppets can be used in staged productions.

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.”

Writer and director Frank Galati poses for a portrait on July 29, 2004, in a practice room at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Ore., where his play “Oedipus Complex” premiered during the summer. (AP Photo / Jeff Barnard, File)

 Frank Galati won twin Tonys in 1990 — best play and best director — for his adaptation and staging of Steppenwolf’s production of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” starring Gary Sinise as Tom Joad. He was also nominated for directing the 1998 celebrated musical “Ragtime.”

Step Afrika! dancers perform. (Courtesy of Step Afrika!)

From the obvious to the obscure, we’ve pulled together a rundown of promising arts and culture events to stir the senses in the new year. 

Organist Cameron Carpenter performed Poulenc’s “Concerto in G Minor for Organ, Strings, and Timpani,” and Saint-Saëns’s “Organ Symphony” with the CSO on Dec. 15. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Something intriguing happens when an organ is added to the usual assemblage of symphony orchestra instruments. It’s almost as if an opera singer with a notably distinctive voice has been added to the usual “cast.” 

Third Coast Percussion rehearses for an upcoming performance. (WTTW News)

Third Coast Percussion is nominated for a Grammy for the fourth year in a row. “Gauntlet” is a new work that has the ensemble making music from a table full of toys and everyday items.

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.

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)

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.

 Enrique Mazzola, music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 21, 2022. (WTTW News)

Maestro Enrique Mazzola took over as music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019 with grand plans for the 70-year-old institution. Then the pandemic hit.

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

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.