Burundi (left) and Mombasa.
The deal is done and opera-lovers worldwide can rejoice: Lyric Opera of Chicago is back on the air. As of last Saturday night, the opening performances of all Lyric Opera productions are being broadcast live on WFMT ( 98.7 FM ) and its satellite network, and rebroadcast next spring. The remaining opening nights this season are: Verdi's Il Trovatore ( Nov. 4 ) , Gounod's Romeo et Juliette ( Nov. 20 ) , Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus ( Dec. 15 ) , Mozart's Cosi fan tutte ( Feb. 10 ) and Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites ( sung in English, Feb. 17 matinee broadcast ) .
Politics makes for strange bedfellows, the saying goes, but sometimes music can make for bedfellows that are just as odd. Consider the upcoming concert by the Chicago Sinfonietta on Nov. 7 that pairs former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, with music professor, theater composer and part-time rock musician James Kimo Williams. The centerpiece of the concert at Symphony Center is Buffalo Soldiers, composed by Williams with a spoken narrative written by Powell, and commissioned ( under the title American Soldiers ) by the West Point Academy Band. The work honors not merely all soldiers, but specifically the African-American regiments who served in the Civil War. Williams, who is a Vietnam vet, has devoted much of his composing career to works inspired by his own soldiering experiences, with Symphony for the Sons of Nam and September in Saigon among his compositions.
The concert is co-presented by the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Chicago Humanities Festival, the theme of which this year is Peace and War: Facing Human Conflict. Samuel Barber's moving Adagio for Strings and Serge Prokofiev's blistering war score from the film Alexander Nevsky also will be performed, the latter work with mezzo-soprano Gwendolyn Brown and choirs from Elmhurst College and Northern Illinois University. 312-236-3681; $25-$90.
Baroque opera is on the boards Nov. 17-18 at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, as the Northwestern University School of Music presents La buona figliuola, a 1760 work by Niccolo Piccinni, one of the greatest of all 18th-century composers ( and Marie Antoinette's voice teacher, although Piccinni survived the French Revolution with his vocal cords intact ) . The Good Girl, as the title translates, is based on the moralizing novel Pamela by the English author, S. Richardson, and concerns wooing and marriage across class lines, with chastity carefully preserved until virtue is rewarded by marriage. Sung in Italian with projected English titles, this production of La buona figliuola is the Chicago premiere of what was, once, the most-performed opera of the 18th century; 847-467-4000.
In other musical events of note, Music of the Baroque presents an all-Mozart program under the baton of its estimable music director, Jane Glover, Oct. 29 in Evanston ( First United Methodist Church ) and Oct. 30 in Chicago ( Harris Theater ) ; 312-551-1414; $35-$55. Acoustic Africa is the title of a Nov. 3 concert featuring African pop music stars Habib Koité, Vusi Mahlasela and Dobet Gnoahoré, who bring stunning voices and amazing Afro-rock tempos to the McAninch Arts Center ( MAC ) at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn; 630-942-3000; $26-$36. The MAC offers a rich stew of musical choices every month, from jazz and folk to symphonic fare and opera. For example, Richie Havens and Susan Werner appear in concert at the MAC Nov. 11, followed the next day by concert pianist Alpin Hong in a program of works by Stravinsky, Debussy, Bach and Gershwin.
Symphony Center, too, offers much more each month than the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, its resident ensemble. Take, for example, the Oct. 29 matinee concert by Mombasa Musical Party and the Royal Drummers of Burundi. The Mombasa Party, from Kenya, plays a fusion of Arabic and Indian music known as taarab, a frequent choice for all-night wedding gigs. The Royal Drummers of Burundi is a 20-member ensemble representing a tradition of East African ritual and sacred drumming; $20-$40; 312-294-3000.
International musical guests aside, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will reoccupy Symphony Center for two concerts Nov. 18 ( 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. ) , joined by the Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater and the Natya Dance Theatre ( South Asian dance ) . The Kraft Family Matinee concerts will squeeze works by 10 composers into less than 90 minutes. Popular pieces by Bernstein, Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov, Albeniz, Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington will be among works performed; 312-294-3000; $7-$32.
The CSO will be back at full, adult strength Nov. 24, 25 and 28 as the great Pierre Boulez takes the podium to conduct a single mighty and complex work, Mahler's Symphony No. 7 in E Minor; 312-294-3000; $30-$124.
Next month: musical treats for the holidays.