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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Measure for Measure
2006-04-26

This article shared 2664 times since Wed Apr 26, 2006
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By Jonathan Abarbanel

The Lyric Opera season is over and the Chicago Symphony is preparing a June farewell to musical director Daniel Barenboim, but nonetheless May is a HUGE month in Chicago music, with the spotlight on musical organizations other than the Big Two.

Nothing in May—or, indeed, all year—is more noteworthy than the long-overdue Chicago premiere of John Adams' 1987 opera Nixon in China ( libretto by Alice Goodman ) , to be staged May 17-27 by Chicago Opera Theater. Highly unusual for the slow-moving world of opera, Nixon in China commented on near-current affairs and real people still alive at the time the work was new. With the deaths of all four principal characters—Mao Zedong, his wife Jiang Jing, Richard Nixon and his wife Pat—the personal and political substance of this work certainly become more poignant and perhaps more pointed. Alexander Platt conducts and James Robinson directs. The principal singers are Luis Yo ( Mao ) , Kathleen Kim ( Jiang Jing ) , Maria Kanyova ( Pat Nixon ) and Robert Orth ( Nixon ) , the wonderful Chicago Opera Theater veteran who's always good to see again. Harris Theater; ( 312 ) 704-8414 or www.ChicagoOperaTheater.org; $35-$115. NOTE: It's a busy month for COT, which also presents Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio May 3-13.

The German Baroque composer with a bad wig and lots of children will be honored—as he has been for more than 30 years—by the annual Bach Week Festival of the Music Institute of Chicago ( in Evanston ) , May 5-14. Jazz guitarist Fareed Haque, gospel soprano Elizabeth Norman and harpsichordist David Schrader are among the prominent musicians on the program. But Bach Week doesn't woo by music alone, even though 'music be the food of love ( Shakespeare ) .' This year, Bach Week also offers food and drink with Bach After Hours, a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception before the Friday evening concerts. The festival also will serve champagne and chocolates before the candlelight concerts on May 5 and May 12.

The 2006 program features one of the first performances of a recently-discovered Bach aria, Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn and Concerto for 4 Harpsichords in A Minor, plus a Brandenburg Concerto. Also, to honor the 300th anniversary of the death of Bach contemporary Johann Pachelbel ( who died when Bach was 21 ) , Bach Week offers Pachelbel's greatest hit, the familiar squeezebox Canon in D. All Bach Week performances are at the Institute's Nicholas Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston; ( 800 ) 595-4849 or www.bachweek.org; $25-$45.

And we shall go a-Maying with Bella Voce, the reincarnation of the treasured vocal ensemble, His Majestie's Clerkes. Bella Voce offers spring concerts May 6 and 12-13 on the theme of Love Sacred and Profane, spanning repertoire from Renaissance through the 20th century. Daniel Robinson conducts the 16-member a cappella ensemble. May 6, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston; May 12 and 13; ( 312 ) 479-1096 or www.bellavoce.org; $25-$35.

Intimate Opera Chicago, a chamber opera company as its name suggests, performs Mozart's Così Fan Tutte May 6-14 at Grace United Methodist Church of Logan Square, 3325 W. Wrightwood. This delightful comic opera focuses on two engaged couples flirting with fidelity and susceptibility. Recitatives will be performed in English, with arias and ensembles performed in Italian with English supertitles. It's all done by young professional singers to piano accompaniment. Yasako Oura is the musical director and AJ Wester is the stage director. At $20-$25, it's a good deal. ( 773 ) 324-1509 or www.intimateoperachicago.com .

To close its 2005-2006 season, the always-creative Chicago Sinfonietta offers multimedia, shooting stars and hip-hop in partnership with the Adler Planetarium and composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, who goes by the hook DBR. Described as 'Beethoven meets Lenny Kravitz,' the dreadlocked DBR will be making his Chicago debut at the May 14-15 concerts, performing his own Voodoo Violin Concerto No. 1, a tribute to his Haitian descent combining elements of funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music. The concert also offers Gustav Holst's popular symphonic suite, The Planets, performed to cosmic images created by astronomer and digital photographer José Francisco Salgado of the Adler Planetarium and Vectors & Pixels Unlimited. The sinfonietta is under the baton of musical director Paul Freeman. May 14, 2:30 p.m. at Dominican University's Lund Auditorium, 7900 W. Division, River Forest. May 15, 7:30 p.m., Symphony Center ( Downtown ) ; ( 312 ) 236-3681 or www.ChicagoSinfonietta.org; $25—$38 ( Lund Auditorium ) , $25-$90 ( Symphony Center ) .

Rome: Built in a Day is the May 21 concert by the Lakeshore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Russell Vinick. Along with classical guitarist Norman Ruiz and the McHenry County Youth Orchestra, the ensemble will perform Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture and Respighi's Pines of Rome plus a Rossini overture and two guitar concerti. At 3:30 p.m.; Northside College Preparatory High School, 5501 N. Kedzie; ( 312 ) 409-5670 or www.lsso.org; $15.


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