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Articles by Nancy Malitz

Elizabeth DeShong carries a torch for tragic bel canto – and for Bernadette, Bette, Judy

Feb 19, 2017 – 10:48 am
Elizabeth+DeShong feature crop (Kristin Hoebermann)

Interview: Enough with comedy. This singer, now featured in “Norma” at the Lyric Opera, and soon to kick back with other rising stars at a “Beyond the Aria” event at the Harris Theater, believes the world is poised for a major revival of coloratura-tinged drama, bel canto’s serious side. Her inspirations include opera’s Marilyn Horne, but she admires those legendary Broadway belters, too.

‘A Disappearing Number’ at TimeLine: Infinity as starting point in a story of incalculable love

Feb 16, 2017 – 11:35 am
A Disappearing Number feature image (Lara Goetsch, TimeLine)

Review: Who are the rare humans able to unlock secret patterns of the universe, sharing their discoveries as music, science, mathematics or metaphor? You might think of Michelangelo or Bach. Copernicus or Newton. Shakespeare. Einstein. But Ramanujan? If this name stopped you, then you’re a candidate for TimeLine’s fascinating romance “A Disappearing Number.” ★★★★

‘Norma’ at Lyric Opera: Radvanovsky’s fiery priestess sets the tone for blazing melodrama

Feb 1, 2017 – 2:36 pm
Sondra Radvanovksy NORMA Chicago Lyric 037A4590 crop (Cory Weaver)

Review: There is no Verdi at the Lyric Opera of Chicago this season, but there is plenty of Italian spectacle from the generation prior. Donizetti’s crazed “Lucia di Lammermoor” bowed earlier this season, and now comes Bellini’s “Norma,” the bel canto saga of a Druid high priestess betrayed in love. Sondra Radvanovsky stars in a majestic turn. ★★★★

Lyric’s ‘Flute’ is a time-bending gift from ’50s, backyard fun boxed in spirit of Disney magic

Dec 19, 2016 – 10:51 am
magic-flute-chicago-lyric-2016-andrew-cioffi

Review: The ultimate holiday gift for arts lovers this season is Lyric Opera of Chicago’s rambunctiously retro world premiere production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” set triumphantly in the world headquarters of the baby boom. Which is to say, a backyard of the ’50s and ’60s, as seen through the eyes of a child. This nostalgic feat is an exceptional musical delight and a fine show for families of all ages. What makes this show giftable is its extended January run. ★★★★

In a ‘Curious Incident,’ a special boy grapples with the twists, turns and illogic of growing up

Dec 13, 2016 – 10:03 am
curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time-feature-image-joan-marcus

Review: Christopher is determined to a) solve the mystery of who has killed his neighbor’s dog and b) take a math advance-placement exam. The story that takes flight is music for the soul. Now playing through Dec. 24 at the Oriental, this brave and wonderful Broadway in Chicago national touring production is about the dignity of the adolescent passage, as seen through the eyes of a brilliant boy in constant danger of sensory overload, and his ever-present companion, a pet rat. ★★★★

‘Fundamentals’ at Steppenwolf: Downstairs at posh hotel, no Up button for the service crew

Dec 11, 2016 – 1:59 pm
fundamentals_9-feature-3

Review: The time is right for “The Fundamentals,” a sly new play by Erika Sheffer now upstairs at Steppenwolf. With mega-corps in the news for claiming ignorance of malfeasance so widespread it involves thousands of workers — while simultaneously selling the perfume of lofty company ideals — Sheffer zeroes in on the souls who draw the paychecks and suffer the joke. ★★★

‘Christmas Carol’ rings out again at Goodman: Scrooge & Co. affirm spirit at heart of the deal

Dec 3, 2016 – 1:44 pm
feature-image-a-christmas-carol-goodman-liz-lauren

Review: For his ninth season, Larry Yando plays the gnarled old man whose very name is now a synonym for miser, his “Bah! Humbug!” an all-purpose slapdown that distills the essence of a curmudgeonly world view. Until Scrooge discovers joy, that is. Yando’s wonderfully long face is as capable as ever of rubbery contortions worthy of a cartoonist’s pen. Goodman’s “A Christmas Carol” is a tradition happily renewed. ★★★★

Comic sequel to ‘Pride & Prejudice’ bundles bookish romance into shining Christmas play

Nov 25, 2016 – 10:13 pm
Author Renee Rosen

Charles Osgood Photography
 
 Northlight Theatre dress rehearsal for Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.
Charles Osgood Photography
 
 Northlight Theatre dress rehearsal for Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.
Charles Osgood Photography
 
 Northlight Theatre dress rehearsal for Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.
Charles Osgood Photography
 
 Northlight Theatre dress rehearsal for Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.
Charles Osgood Photography

Review: Less than halfway through “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” a happy world premiere in the spirit of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” I found myself wishing that Elizabeth Bennet had eight sisters, not four. That way I could look forward to more Austen sequels by the playwright team of Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. They have done a pitch-perfect job assimilating the 19th-century novelist’s way with words while spinning entirely new adventures for the bookish, presumably unmarriageable, middle sister of the Bennet household – Mary. ★★★★

In season of grandeur and magic, Lyric Opera scores with simple charm of ‘Don Quichotte’

Nov 22, 2016 – 6:30 pm
ferruccio-furlanetto-in-massenet-don-quichotte-chicago-lyric-andrew-cioffi

Review: Ambitious out of the gate, the 2016-17 Lyric Opera of Chicago season gave us Part I of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, with Rhinemaidens, giants and a dragon. In December the company will offer Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” with trials of fire and water, a feathered bird-catcher and another dragon. In between we have seen high-flying coloratura (“Lucia di Lammermoor”) and a new high-tech stage toy in Berlioz’ “Les Troyens.” Time now for some simple old-school tradition? Whyever not? The Lyric’s presentation of Massenet’s “Don Quichotte” is pure operatic comfort food. ★★★★

James Levine, a musical soul for all ages, appears before the CSO and it’s all poetry

Nov 8, 2016 – 12:42 pm

Review: Celebrating his splendid Indian summer, James Levine rolled up a long ramp to a custom-designed maestro’s podium at Orchestra Hall, took a hi-hello spin, and settled into a love-fest with the Chicago Symphony, starting with some absolutely irresistible Mozart. It is impossible to overstate the importance to American culture of this brilliant musician who, despite physical infirmity, is capable of unforgettable concerts when conditions are right.

This is going to sound mad, but for Lyric star scary-difficult role of Donizetti’s Lucia is easy

Nov 4, 2016 – 2:40 pm
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Report: One of the great dramatic coloraturas of our day will go mad for the last time at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Nov. 6. But it’s impossible to believe that Russian singer Albina Shagimuratova won’t be back. The bond she forged with Lyric Opera general director Anthony Freud a decade ago is strong. Shagimuratova is at the top of her game now. But when she first sang for Anthony Freud, she was in her mid-twenties, fresh from the Moscow State Conservatory. She didn’t know the first thing about building a career.

Young maestro walks into house Reiner built, confronts CSO and a daunting Strauss legacy

Oct 30, 2016 – 12:19 pm

Review: It must be with a certain prideful reluctance that the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra face each new generation of conductors eager to take their own shot with one of the most famous works in its recorded legacy  – Richard Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra.” The 38-year-old Colombian conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada did not score a clear success despite a lot of bounce and body language in every single beat.

CSO reports artistic, financial gains but shows little progress in restoring its recording legacy

Oct 27, 2016 – 5:48 pm
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Report: As orchestras around the country claw their way toward better health in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) shared some upbeat news on Oct. 26 at the orchestra’s annual meeting. The love affair between the orchestra and its celebrated music director Riccardo Muti still flourishes.

‘Hamilton,’ energized by spirit of America’s founding, opens Chicago run in stylish blaze

Oct 21, 2016 – 3:51 pm
Hamilton
REGIONAL/NATIONAL TOURSMUSICAL
PRIVATEBANK THEATRE
18 WEST MONROE, CHICAGO, 60603
From bastard orphan to Washington's right hand man, rebel to war hero, loving husband caught in the country's first sex scandal to Treasury head who made an untrusting world believe in the American economy, an exploration of a political mastermind and scrappy young immigrant who forever changed America: Alexander Hamilton.




Starring: Karen Olivo, Mandy Gonzalez, Joshua Henry, Jonathan Kirkland, Miguel Cervantes, Alexander Gemignani
MUSIC: LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA
BOOK: LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA
LYRICS: LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

Review: “Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry and I’m not throwing away my shot” is the clarion call of young friends in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical “Hamilton,” a contemporary re-imagining of our own history. The Broadway show’s first regional clone has opened at Chicago’s PrivateBank Theatre, where it will be for many months, probably years. ★★★★★

Amid tragic power of Lyric Opera’s ‘Lucia,’ Shagimuratova touches the soul of bel canto

Oct 17, 2016 – 12:08 pm

Review: For Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiece “Lucia di Lammermoor,” the Lyric Opera of Chicago has chosen well to wrap the dazzling young Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova in the vintage production of British director Graham Vick. Despite its age, there’s something very modern about Lucia’s murderous disintegration in Vick’s not-to-miss installment at the Lyric. The role of the innocent and doomed Scottish lass Lucia features one of the greatest mad scenes in all of opera. ★★★★

CSO trombonist proves master of the mystical in premiere of Vine suite ‘Five Hallucinations’

Oct 8, 2016 – 6:10 pm

Review: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was back in the new music business this week, as the remarkable virtuoso trombonist Michael Mulcahy, a member of the CSO’s brass battalion, performed the world premiere of a freely associative five-movement extravaganza for trombone and orchestra by Australian composer Carl Vine.

DiDonato, Muti conjure Martucci song cycle, then the CSO delivers a Beethoven thriller

Sep 30, 2016 – 8:16 pm
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Review: Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti has long and eagerly shared his love for some 19th-century Italian composers who are otherwise slipping into history. For Giuseppe Martucci’s formidable song cycle “La canzone dei ricordi” (Song of Remembrance), Muti brought in another persuasive advocate, the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. An electrifying Beethoven Seventh Symphony lit up the concert’s second half.

To young lives at risk, Muti and 2 opera stars bring close encounter with voice in full glory

Sep 28, 2016 – 4:10 pm
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Report: Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato was about to make her Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut with music director Riccardo Muti in a rare Italian work, and bass-baritone Eric Owens, over at the Lyric Opera, was readying the role of Wotan, king of the gods in Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, for the first time in his career. Yet these three internationally celebrated artists made time to perform for youths within the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, where boys in conflict with the law, most in their mid to late teens, are held for an intensive period of education and intervention designed to set them on a safer course.

Strawdog Theatre, ousted from its old home, opens with play about another loss: memory

Aug 26, 2016 – 5:26 pm
Strawdog_Distance_feature image Janice O'Neill

Season Preview: The following is adapted from a news release submitted by an arts organization to Chicago On the Aisle.
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STRAWDOG THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS THE WORLD PREMIERE OF JERRE DYE’S “DISTANCE” AUGUST 25 – OCTOBER 1

Goodman Theatre announces weeklong Leonard Bernstein Celebration during revival of ‘Wonderful Town’

Aug 25, 2016 – 6:39 pm
Lauren Molina (Eileen) rehearses some dance steps with the cast of 'Wonderful Town.' (Liz Lauren)

Report: As rehearsals of the 1953 musical “Wonderful Town” get underway at the Goodman under the direction of Mary Zimmerman, the Theatre announced free events surrounding Leonard Bernstein’s legendary show, which kicks off the 2016-17 season. Several film screenings are planned, and a class for the general public on conga line and swing dancing.

At the Goodman Theatre, Leonard Bernstein’s musical ‘Wonderful Town’ starts busy season

Aug 24, 2016 – 3:04 pm
Leonard Bernstein feature image

2016-17 SEASON PREVIEW: The following is adapted from a news release submitted by an arts organization to Chicago On the Aisle.
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Lauren Molina and Bri Sudia star as two sisters leaving Ohio in 1935 to conquer New York City in Bernstein’s “Wonderful Town.” Here’s the Goodman Theatre’s complete line-up…

Redtwist 2016-17: ‘Death of a Salesman,’ new works on theme ‘Home is where the HURT is’

Aug 23, 2016 – 6:11 pm
Redtwist Theater 2016-17 Home is where the HURT is logo

2016-17 SEASON PREVIEW: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
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Redtwist Theatre is pleased to announce its 13th Season!
“Turtle,” a world premiere by Jake Jeppson, and Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” are in the mix.

City Lit announces a 2016-17 season of world premieres plus a seldom-seen comedy classic

Aug 23, 2016 – 3:46 pm
City Lit at Edgewater Presbyterian Church

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.——

Works by P.G. Wodehouse, Shirley Jackson and Dion Boucicault to be staged along with world premiere of Douglas Post’s “Forty-Two Stories”

Freshening Chicago early-music scene, native son leads vocal quintet His Majestie’s Clerkes

Aug 12, 2016 – 12:53 pm
A painting of St. John of Kenty by Tadeusz Żukotyński, above the altar at St. John Cantius Church

Preview: Resounding at sunset in the shadow of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a new all-male vocal ensemble called His Majestie’s Clerkes is making its debut at St. John’s Cantius as part of Chicago’s rapidly expanding early music scene.

Lawn awaits, stars have got you covered: Downbeat is coming up at Grant Park Fest

Jun 13, 2016 – 8:26 pm
Grant Park Music Festival feature image

Preview: The Grant Park Music Festival is the nation’s only free, outdoor classical music series of its kind, one of the glories of Chicago’s summer. Each year the Festival presents ten weeks of lawn concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Here are the 2016 highlights.

‘Constellations’ at Steppenwolf: Of relativity, and the infinite outcomes of boy meets girl

Jun 12, 2016 – 4:32 pm
'Constellations' at Steppenwolf (Michael Brosilow)

Review: Life isn’t like a box of chocolates. It’s more like a roll of the dice, suggests playwright Nick Payne in his touching romance “Constellations,” now on crisp and credible view at Steppenwolf Theatre. In fact, viewed on the space-time continuum, the possibilities of life and love might be as variable as infinite throws of those ivory cubes. ★★★★

Hottest ticket in Chicago – ‘Hamilton’ single tickets to go onsale at last

Jun 9, 2016 – 6:45 am
2016-06-09_Broadway in Chicago Hamilton tickets 400

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
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“HAMILTON” SINGLE TICKETS GO ON SALE TO THE PUBLIC TUESDAY, JUNE 21 

PERFORMANCES BEGIN SEPTEMBER 27 AT THE PRIVATEBANK THEATRE Details …

Available June 10 for download – Mason Bates’ ‘Anthology of Fantastic Zoology,’ Riccardo Muti conducting, on CSO Resound

Jun 8, 2016 – 7:50 am
CSO Resound Mason Bates Anthology of Fantastic Zoology CD jacket

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
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The next CSO Resound recording, “Mason Bates: Anthology of Fantastic Zoology,” is available through download and streaming services beginning Friday, June 10. The recording features former CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates’ “Anthology of Fantastic Zoology,” which was a CSO commission and received its world premiere in Chicago under the baton of Music Director Riccardo Muti during his June 2015 residency.

Chicago Sinfonietta scores two more seasons with music director Mei-Ann Chen thru 2018-19

May 18, 2016 – 9:07 am
Mei-Ann Chen (Chris Ocken)

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
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CHICAGO SINFONIETTA SCORES TWO ADDITIONAL SEASONS WITH MUSIC DIRECTOR MEI-ANN CHEN

CHICAGO (May 18, 2016)—Chicago Sinfonietta, the nation’s most diverse orchestra dedicated to pushing artistic boundaries, is proud to announce Music Director Mei-Ann Chen will continue leading the orchestra through its 2018-2019 Season, adding two years to her current contract and insuring her place on the podium for the upcoming 30th Anniversary season, 2017-2018. Chen will continue to conduct four out of five subscription concerts each season, as well as special added concerts. Recently named among Music America’s 2015 Top 30 Influencers, she has …

Muti to lead CSO Europe tour in January 2017; stops include new Hamburg hall, historic La Scala

May 11, 2016 – 7:36 am
Itinerary - Paris, Hamburg, Aalborg, Milan, Vienna, Baden-Baden, Frankfurt

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
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Stops include grand opening week of Hamburg’s state-of-the art Elbphilharmonie and CSO’s first visit to Milan’s La Scala since 1981. More …