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Dec 8, 2017 – 11:22 am

Review: A dark and mythical love story set long, long ago in an imaginary locale in China, Giacomo Puccini’s final opera, “Turandot,” has traditionally brought out the grand in grand opera. And so it does again in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s lavish production, which is dominated by a massive, eye-grabbing sculpture of a serpentine dragon that undulates across and through a steeply raked set with an array of other changing scenic touches. ★★★

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Chailly lifts his quick baton, and Beethoven’s symphonies emerge from the veil of tradition

Jan 6, 2012 – 4:31 pm
Riccardo Chailly Decca Beethoven featured image

CD review: Conductor Riccardo Chailly’s new recording of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, may finally be the document that changes the way we think of these seminal works – and the way the next generation of conductors approaches them. *****

Marriage of true minds: Chicago Shakespeare brings the Bard to Chicago Symphony’s party

Jan 4, 2012 – 4:57 pm
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Preview: Barbara Gaines directs actors from Chicago Shakespeare Theater in concerts Jan. 5-14 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder, featuring music inspired by the Bard.

HD sound check at the Berlin Philharmonic: Second look at stellar streaming concerts

Jan 2, 2012 – 11:18 pm
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The Berlin Philharmonic began live concert broadcasts over the Internet in mid-2009 amid some high-tech speed bumps. Is 2012 the year it all comes together?

Sip New Year’s bubbly at home, tune in to great performances from around the world

Dec 30, 2011 – 4:57 am
Danielle de Niese  Ariel  Enchanted Island Metropolitan Opera credit Ken Howard

Our selective guide to the best national broadcasts, international radio streams, concert replays and festive downloads to help you ring in New Year 2012.

The holly and the ivories proclaim Yuletide in sparking keyboard riffs on old favorites

Dec 25, 2011 – 1:00 am
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Review: “A Steinway Christmas Album,” a classy bundle of seasonal arrangements compiled and performed by pianist Jeffrey Biegel. (Steinway) ****

‘Penelope’ at Steppenwolf: Four guys in an empty pool, down to life’s last threads

Dec 22, 2011 – 3:38 pm
Penelope featured image Steppenwolf Theatre Yasen Peyankov Scott Jaeck Tracy Letts credit Michael Brosilow

And Odysseus is bearing down. 3 stars.

Role Playing: Dean Evans, in clown costume, enters the darkness of ‘Burning Bluebeard’

Dec 20, 2011 – 7:26 pm
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Interview: His clown suit, a bit tattered and soiled with soot, looks like it once might have been pure white. But the character Dean Evans plays in the Neo-Futurists’ production of “Burning Bluebeard” is decidedly dark, one might even say spectral.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ and a wonderful night when ATC revisits ‘radio’ parable of faith

Dec 19, 2011 – 4:02 pm
Wonderful Life featured image American Theater Company 2011

Capra’s film as oldie broadcast. 4 stars!

Like composer on the podium, Salonen leads Chicago Symphony in brilliant Mahler Sixth

Dec 17, 2011 – 10:30 pm
Salonen_Esa-Pekka_featured image credit_Snezana Vucetic Bohm

The Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen shares a peculiarity of temperament and genius with Gustav Mahler. Like Mahler in his time, Salonen today stands among the most important conductors in the world. And again like his great forebear, Salonen would really rather be composing than be saddled with the responsibilities of music director for any orchestra you could name. Even one that might be looking for someone to succeed James Levine in Boston.

New talents refresh evergreen tradition in sharp-shooting musical ‘A Christmas Story’

Dec 16, 2011 – 4:26 am
A Christmas Story The Musical Clarke Hallum as Ralphie and kids Chicago 2011

Debut tour at Chicago Theatre. 4 stars!

Early music vocalists Anonymous 4, bearing gifts from new CD, to offer Chicago concert

Dec 13, 2011 – 4:56 pm
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Profile: Anonymous 4, the vocal quartet renowned for its plainchant and medieval music recordings, celebrates 25 seasons with a holiday concert of favorites at Chicago’s Art Institute Dec. 18, and a new release called “Secret Voices.”

Queen’s agony over love and duty gets royal treatment in CST’s searing ‘Elizabeth Rex’

Dec 11, 2011 – 3:52 pm
Diane D'Aquila Elizabeth Rex featured image Chicago Shakespeare Theater credit Liz Lauren

Shakespeare’s in the barn. 5 stars!

Tallis Scholars magnify spirit of Christmas in a Renaissance concert at Rockefeller Chapel

Dec 10, 2011 – 3:41 pm
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Review: For many music lovers, the single word Magnificat probably summons the name Bach, whose setting of this ancient “song of Mary” is doubtless the most famous to modern listeners. But in fact the Magnificat enjoys a long and glorious tradition in music history, notably in the 16th century, and several such Renaissance gems were on display Friday night in an exquisite concert by the Tallis Scholars at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel. *****

Once more, Lyric’s treasured ‘Magic Flute’ spins its noble, wacky tale of love and light

Dec 9, 2011 – 11:12 am
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Mozart’s classic opera revives. 3 stars.

New York ‘Follies’ stars Broadway babies old enough to have a boffo then and now

Dec 7, 2011 – 1:32 pm
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Appreciation: The showgirls of Broadway’s “Follies” have histories of their own. Hats off to these flawless charmers and their former selves in a present — and past — perfect production.

CD Review: Paul Lewis rambles Schubertian paths strewn with sonatas, fantasies, fragments

Dec 7, 2011 – 1:21 pm
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British pianist Paul Lewis brings a potent blend of ingredients to a diverse collection that shows Schubert as both Beethoven’s heir and an original, indeed daring creative spirit. ****

Goodman Theatre’s magical ‘Christmas Carol’ redeems sour Scrooge with heart and laughter

Dec 3, 2011 – 6:34 am
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Festive retelling for all ages. 4 stars!

‘An Iliad’ reconsiders the poet who brought us Achilles, Agamemnon, Hector and all that

Nov 28, 2011 – 6:23 pm
An Iliad Featured Image Timothy Edward Kane credit Michael Brosilow

One-man invasion at the Court. 4 stars!

Role Playing: Dan Waller wields a personal brush as uneasy genius of ‘Pitmen Painters’

Nov 26, 2011 – 5:20 pm
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Interview: Actor Dan Waller describes himself as a simple guy who values friendship and the respect of his peers. That makes him a close kin to the North England coal miner, revealed as gifted artist, he portrays in Lee Hall’s play “The Pitmen Painters” at TimeLine Theatre.

In the pre-dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, ‘Memphis’ bundles daring hearts in a jumping love story

Nov 25, 2011 – 9:47 am
Bryan Fenkart as Huey in Memphis National Tour Featured Image credit Paul Kolnik

Burning hot at the Cadillac. 5 stars!

Lyric Opera’s zany ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ is model Strauss with dash of Marx Brothers

Nov 24, 2011 – 1:17 pm
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Lovable but seriously bizarre. 4 stars!

In a claustrophobic space, Writers’ frames psychological chill of Pinter’s ‘Caretaker’

Nov 21, 2011 – 6:09 pm
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Deliciously bizarre test of wits. 4 stars!

Bereft clowns of ‘Burning Bluebeard’ recycle pain and guilt of 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire

Nov 21, 2011 – 5:55 pm
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Neo-Futurists riff on a tragedy. 4 stars!

Holland Taylor’s one-woman show ‘Ann’ gets down with the grit and humor of a Texas star

Nov 18, 2011 – 5:48 pm
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At Bank of America Theatre. 4 stars!

Glass’ meditative ‘Satyagraha,’ on Gandhi, takes Met’s Live HD series to new ground

Nov 17, 2011 – 7:41 pm
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Preview: The Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD broadcasts throughout the U.S. feature a landmark of American minimalism not to miss — ”Satyagraha” by Philip Glass, Nov. 19 and Dec. 7. Here’s a peek.

Ho-ho-ho! Best bet for giving is the 60-CD Leonard Bernstein treasury

Nov 16, 2011 – 1:59 pm
Discs for giving

In a quandary about what to give the person you dare not buy for? If that knotty assignment is a music or theater lover, we at Chicago On the Aisle have a garland of happy solutions: concert music, operas, plays and musicals on CDs, DVDs and downloadable recordings. We’ll be stringing our bright recommendations over the weeks ahead, so check back often.

Role Playing: City boy Michael Stegall ropes wild cowboy in Raven Theatre’s ‘Bus Stop’

Nov 15, 2011 – 1:12 pm
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Interview: Michael Stegall, who looks and sounds every inch a ropin’ cowboy in the Raven Theatre production of William Inge’s “Bus Stop,” grew up in the West. No surprise there. But wait a minute. Not that West. The 6-foot-3, 23-year-old actor hails from Palm Springs, CA, where the buffalo do not roam.

Contempo doubles down on new music, plays matchmaker for separate audiences

Nov 13, 2011 – 9:21 am
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Preview: U.S. and Chicago premieres abound in the season opener of the new-music series Contempo, at the Harris Theater Tuesday. The concert is a double bill featuring a second set with Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara and her trio.

French conductor Stéphane Denève scores a triumph in Chicago Symphony debut

Nov 11, 2011 – 1:40 pm
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Review: The French conductor Stéphane Denève made a thrilling debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Thursday night. Denève, who turns 40 this month, is going to be an international force, and his concert with the CSO amply demonstrated why. *****

Lyric Opera’s powerful ‘Boris Godunov’ recaptures tragedy’s original stark beauty

Nov 10, 2011 – 8:24 pm
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Tortured soul of a Russian czar. 4 stars!