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Nov 21, 2017 – 5:13 pm

Review: For a living, pulsating definition of Romanticism, look no further than the 25-year-old Georges Bizet’s opera “The Pearl Fishers.” Worlds away from the verismo terrain of “Carmen,” which would cap Bizet’s brief life just 12 years later, “Les pêcheurs de perles” is an exotic love poem set in ancient Ceylon, its soaring lyricism consummated in one man’s ultimate sacrifice offered to another in the name of both love and friendship. The whole seductive package – remote enchantment, grand singing, evocative costumes, stylized sets – comes together in a splendid production at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. ★★★★

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It’s the Bard’s birthday! Simon Callow reflects on the fanciful weave of ‘Being Shakespeare’

Apr 22, 2012 – 10:49 pm

Interview: As “the soul of the age” turns 448 on April 23, the celebrated actor talks with Chicago On the Aisle about his one-man play “Being Shakespeare,” presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater at the Broadway Theatre through April 29.

Steppenwolf captures pulse and horror of war with Sherman’s march through Georgia

Apr 20, 2012 – 1:51 am
(front) General William Tecumseh Sherman (Harry Groener) and (right) Major Morrison (Cliff Chamberlain) watch the battle from afar with several other Union soldiers in Steppenwolf Theatre Company?s world-premiere production of The March, based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, adapted and directed by ensemble member Frank Galati. The March runs April 5 ? June 10, 2012 in Steppenwolf?s Downstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St).

Doctorow’s novel on stage. 4 stars!

Chicago Opera lavishes style on Shostakovich comedy about romance — and finding a flat

Apr 18, 2012 – 10:35 am
Moscow Cheryomushki Dmitri Shostakovich feature image Sophie Gordeladze as Lusya Dominic Armstrong as Sergei Chicago Opera Theater credit Liz Lauren

‘Moscow, Cheryomushki.’ 4 stars!

‘Fish Men’ at Goodman: When chess hustlers bait their hooks, slippery truth snaps at the line

Apr 17, 2012 – 4:13 pm

Con game in the park. 3 stars.

‘Angels in America’ at the Court: Viewing AIDS and the yearning heart through a perfect lens

Apr 15, 2012 – 10:58 pm
Angels in America featured image Court Theatre Rob Lindley Mary Beth Fisher credit Michael Brosilow

Tony Kushner’s classic soars. 5 stars!

Exploring the starry night at Adler Planetarium, ‘Starball’ will invite audience to shape new myths

Apr 15, 2012 – 8:40 am
Starball John Kaufmann Dan Dennis

Preview: The stars are dream-catchers and story-tellers. Humans have always thought so, hence the mythic characters and lore written into the constellations. But, hey, if the ancient Greeks could puzzle out stories in the stars, why can’t we – and have a ball doing it? No wonder the community myth-making adventure on tap April 19 at the Adler Planetarium is called “Starball.”

Conductor Charles Dutoit leads French lesson as CSO matches Impressionists with Dutilleux

Apr 14, 2012 – 1:51 pm
Charles Dutoit featured image credit Philadelphia Orchestra

Review: From the admixture of opulence and asceticism that constituted conductor Charles Dutoit’s program of French music with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this weekend, one might have taken away good lessons offered in a perhaps subversively gleeful spirit. ****

Jazz composer’s song-cycle for Dawn Upshaw tops Chicago agenda for Australian ensemble

Apr 12, 2012 – 4:42 pm
Richard Tognetti  feature 1 Australian Chamber Orchestra credit Jon Frank

Preview: It sounds like a perfect mix of guests for a dinner party, the composers queued up for the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s concert April 15 at Orchestra Hall. George Crumb and Anton Webern will be arriving together, so to speak, along with Schubert and Grieg – and a newcomer whose radical voice should give the affair a good jolt.

‘Butcher of Baraboo’ sharp on characters, wit but the dicey plot could stand another whack

Apr 11, 2012 – 9:20 pm
Butcher of Baraboo featured image 1 Marisa Wegrzyn Kristen Fitzgerald Natalie West 2012 credit Michael Brosilow

Dark comedy at A Red Orchid. 2 stars.

‘We Are Proud to Present’ a play that crawls before it walks – and then knocks you flat

Apr 10, 2012 – 4:14 pm
We Are Proud featured image Victory Gardens 2012 credit Liz Lauren

A stunner at Victory Gardens. 4 stars!

Remy Bumppo romp: Blessing’s ‘Chesapeake’ evades leash, mutes bark of political theater

Apr 9, 2012 – 2:00 pm
Greg Matthew Anderson in Chesapeake at RemyBumppo 2010 credit Johnny Knight

Shaggy dog revenge story. 3 stars.

CSO debut: Pianist Lugansky shows Russian school still thrives with grand Rachmaninoff

Apr 6, 2012 – 5:07 pm

Review: Sensational. That, in a word, was Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky’s debut April 5 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Charles Dutoit. The tall, assured pianist – one could only think of the young Van Cliburn – made epic poetry of Rachmaninoff’s formidable Third Piano Concerto in a performance that probed a deep vein of lyricism and simply transcended technical issues. ****

Role Playing: Chuck Spencer flashes a badge of moral courage in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Price’

Apr 4, 2012 – 5:55 pm
Chuck Spencer Chicago actor Raven Theatre

Interview: Chuck Spencer relishes poking through the piled clutter during his first long, solitary, silent minutes on stage at the beginning of Arthur Miller’s play “The Price,” at Raven Theatre.

In a week to remember, pianist Mitsuko Uchida bridges the lyrical realms of Schubert, Mozart

Mar 31, 2012 – 5:59 pm
Mitsuko Uchida featured image credit Hyou Vielz

Commentary: Pianist Mitsuko Uchida’s two appearances this last week at Orchestra Hall, in a recital of Schubert’s late sonatas March 25 and her current concerts playing and conducting Mozart concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, resonate not like discrete encounters but rather like an epic testimonial to her phenomenal art.

‘Cascabel’ flips theater on its head with cuisine, acrobatics and upside-down wine

Mar 30, 2012 – 2:27 pm
Cascabel featured image Alexandria Pivarel as Bathing Chica Lookingglass Theatre credit Sean Williams

High-wire fun at Lookingglass. 4 stars!

Cultural twins, tied to Chicago and Poland, set to make their mark in the orchestra world

Mar 29, 2012 – 8:49 am
Eska Laskus featured image

Receive management fellowships.

In ‘Freud’s Last Session,’ an ailing analyst wrestles with death and a Christian convert

Mar 28, 2012 – 12:06 am
Freud's Last Session Featured Image Martin Rayner and Mark H. Dold Mercury Theater credit Carol Rosegg

Debating God at the Mercury. 3 stars.

It’s ‘The Seagull’ as smoke-and-mirrors romp in stylish Lunt-Fontanne frolic ‘Ten Chimneys’

Mar 25, 2012 – 10:36 pm
LuntFontanne2

Review: That master of the modern English comedy of manners, Noel Coward, might plausibly have written “Ten Chimneys,” the light-hearted toss of a play now occupying Northlight Theatre. It is so stylish, so wry, so – well, ephemeral. ***

August Wilson’s legacy resonates in vitality of African portraiture by playwright Danai Gurira

Mar 24, 2012 – 4:36 pm
Danai Gurira collage credit T Charles Erickson background

Report: All 20 precociously accomplished high school actors who took part in the August Wilson Monologue Competition at the Goodman Theatre were offered, as part of their winnings, free tickets to American playwright Danai Gurira’s “The Convert,” onstage at the Goodman through March 25. I hope they took the Goodman up on it. Wilson’s legacy is strongly continued with Gurira’s reflection upon her own African roots in a former capital of British colonialism.

Role Playing: Rebecca Finnegan finds lyrical heart of a lonely woman in ‘A Catered Affair’

Mar 21, 2012 – 7:34 pm
Rebecca Finnegan featured image by Brandon Dahlquist

Interview: So perfectly does Rebecca Finnegan blend her painful lyric pauses into the narrative flow of “A Catered Affair,” at Porchlight Music Theater, that you scarcely notice she has ramped up from speech to song. Then the swelling power of that voice grabs you, and you realize you’re watching something special: an accomplished actor who’s also a genuine singer.

Nathan Lane and straight man Brian Dennehy break the ice with a blitz of interview zingers

Mar 21, 2012 – 12:29 pm
Nathan Lane featured image

A bit o’ comic relief at the Goodman.

Surprise! Renée Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma spring serenade on lunch crowd at Thompson Center

Mar 19, 2012 – 5:17 pm
Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma jam on 3-19-2012 at James T. Thompson Center Chicago  credit Nancy Malitz

Soprano and cello, burgers and pizza.

Williams’ ‘Camino Real’ reshaped as director sets lyricism on a collision course with libido

Mar 17, 2012 – 2:39 pm
Camino Real Featured Image Calixto Bieito Tennessee Williams Goodman Theatre 2012

Carnal carnival at Goodman. 3 stars.

Solemnity rules as Riccardo Muti guides CSO through musical perspectives on human spirit

Mar 16, 2012 – 4:31 pm
Riccardo Muti music director Chicago Symphony 2012

Review: Riccardo Muti has given Chicago many reasons to celebrate his music directorship of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but perhaps the most perfect expression of his belief in art’s purpose comes in the current run of rarely heard works for chorus and orchestra by Brahms, Schoenberg and Cherubini. ****

Role Playing: Bill Norris pulled the seedy bum in ‘The Caretaker’ from a place within himself

Mar 13, 2012 – 4:56 pm
Bill Norris 550 featured image role playing

Interview: The scruffy creature with darting eyes who calls himself Davies looks like his last bed was a cardboard box on the street. He is the elusive but palpably real character at the core of Harold Pinter’s play “The Caretaker,” now on the boards at Writers’ Theatre, and he’s brought to wheedling, calculating life in a masterful piece of acting by Bill Norris.

Raven Theatre sifts through debris and debate of ‘The Price,’ but can’t deliver the payoff

Mar 11, 2012 – 2:10 pm
The Price by Arthur Miller at Raven Theatre Chicago John Steinhagen Chuck Spencer credit Dean LaPrairie

Arthur Miller on memory’s attic. 3 stars.

In a program of Handel arias, Iestyn Davies illuminates Baroque art of the countertenor

Mar 10, 2012 – 6:48 pm
Iestyn Davies Photo: Marco Borggreve

Review: You’ve got to hand it to countertenor Iestyn Davies and conductor Harry Bicket. When they take a night off from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where they’re performing music of George Frideric Handel, they’re in another part of town performing … George Frideric Handel. Is this love or what? ****

Virtuosity on display, CSO and Zukerman burnish Brahms concerto, 2nd Symphony

Mar 9, 2012 – 5:02 pm
Pinchas Zukerman featured image credit Paul Labelle

Review: Sometimes, in the course of a symphony orchestra season, it’s good just to hear the band dial up the core German repertoire and show what it can do. That’s exactly what the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and music director Riccardo Muti did March 8 in a sumptuous double dose of Brahms, the Violin Concerto with soloist Pinchas Zukerman and the Second Symphony. *****

Soprano Hui He takes over as Aida in Lyric’s new cast, and suddenly the chemistry bubbles

Mar 9, 2012 – 11:21 am
Aida featured image Quinn Kelsey Amonasro Hui He Aida Chicago Lyric Opera DAN_7621 c. Dan Rest

“Aida” with four new singers. 4 stars!

With a vision of grace in the Arizona desert, Strawdog draws life from ‘Petrified Forest’

Mar 7, 2012 – 1:58 am
Petrified Forest featured image Strawdog 2012 Caroline Neff Adam Shalzi Jamie Vann John Moran

Desperate souls in a diner. 4 stars!