****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Lyric Opera of Chicago's bold initiative to present one contemporary, English-language opera on their mainstage each season continues with their latest offering, which closes the 2021/2022 season. "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" is particularly special because it is a collaboration of numerous extremely talented artists and performers whose voices rarely are heard in the major opera houses throughout the world and whose story focuses exclusively on that of a traditionally marginalized community. Congratulations are in order to all of the staff at Lyric for following through on their daring commitment in bringing this essential work to Chicago, which is a co-production of Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera and Los Angeles Opera.
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Giacomo Puccini's widely-beloved and extremely popular opera "Tosca" has made a triumphant return to the Lyric Opera in a new-to-Chicago production. Featuring majestic sets designed by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and the exquisite costumes of the late Marcel Escoffier (including a reproduction of the legendary blood-red velvet gown worn by Maria Callas for the premiere of Franco Zeffirelli's 1964 Covent Garden production) this is the 19th production of "Tosca" that Lyric has presented in its 67-year history. However, this version is notable for the refreshing diversity represented on stage as well as in the orchestra pit. 4 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** I’m used to seeing Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Harris Theatre with its huge stage and cavernous auditorium. To see the Company, perform The Spring Series RE/CONNECT on the intimate Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) was an absolute pleasure. In an effort to offer something for everyone, the two weekends of RE/CONNECT performances are split between Program A and Program B. Program A was joyous and upbeat. 4 Spotlights
**** Highly Recommended **** For the first time, I celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend at the Auditorium Theatre seeing "Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah", an annual event that’s been going on for 17 years! It was absolutely amazing! What a fantastic experience! "Too Hot to Handel" delivered all the magnificence of Handel’s Messiah – plus jazz and gospel rhythms! 4 BIG Spotlights
***** Highly Recommended ***** The Joffrey Ballet’s “Chicago-centric” version of "The Nutcracker", choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, is quite simply magnificent. By setting “The Nutcracker” against Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Wheeldon gave the city a unique gift. This was the fifth time I’ve seen/reviewed “The Nutcracker” and I still love everything about it! I did notice that a few things which were just slightly different, which actually improved on something that I thought was just about perfect. Every movement was graceful, precise and exquisitely performed. By the way, Tchaichovsky’s glorious music was played by the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Scott Speck, the Joffrey’s Music Director. 4 BIG Holiday Spotlights!
While it’s always a pleasure to attend a performance by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the 2021 Fall Series, RE/TURN, the first in more than eighteen months, was an absolute pleasure. My friend Karen and I were enthralled by the grace and strength of the dancers. We both loved it! 4 Spotlights
Lush ‘Florencia el en Amazonas’ navigates love’s vagaries, mysteries and redemptive power - Review by Crista Zivanovic
**** Recommended **** A new opera at Chicago’s storied and beloved Lyric Opera is always a welcome event, especially this season, which marks a joyous return for Midwest opera-lovers after a closed house last year due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The Lyric premiere of a new production of “Florencia en el Amazones,” a 1996 opera by famed late Mexican composer Daniel Catan, is cause for celebration. It debuted at Civic Opera House Saturday night, Nov. 13. 4 Spotlights
***RECOMMENDED*** To state the fact that the Lyric Opera of Chicago has a passionate love affair with Mozart’s "The Magic Flute" may be a bit of an understatement.
**** Highly Recommended **** The Joffrey Ballet returns to live performances in their new home at the Lyric Opera House with Home: A Celebration, a demonstration of all that makes the Joffrey such a leader in contemporary ballet. The evening’s repertoire included one classic ballet and three vibrant original works, developed during the shut-down. The Joffrey’s incredibly talented dancers execute the most complicated choreography with flawless technique and timing – and they make it look easy! 4 BIG Spotlights
In marked contrast to their brooding production of “Macbeth” which is running simultaneously until October 9 (see separate listing), Lyric Opera’s second offering of the season is bright, cheery and a heck of a lot of fun -- Donizetti’s extremely popular “The Elixir of Love.”