***** 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.”
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades" is not the esteemed Russian composer's most popular opera. That distinction probably belongs to "Eugene Onegin" which had its premiere eleven years earlier. It is, however, a much more complex and challenging work which has not been presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago in twenty years. That initial performance, in 2000, was the first chance that local opera lovers got a chance to experience Tchaikovsky's late-career masterwork on Lyric's stage and also coincided with the inaugural season of Sir Andrew Davis as its music director. Fittingly, as Davis approaches the end of that tenure -- he will step down as music director at the conclusion of the 2020/2021 season -- he is once again on the podium to lead a brilliant and haunting new-to-Chicago production of "The Queen of Spades." 4 SPOTLIGHTS
***RECOMMENDED*** Not even a bout with the flu that was plaguing some of the cast members of Lyric's latest "Madama Butterfly" could prevent this production from being a smashing success. At a recent Sunday matinee performance, a case of musical chairs took place regarding some of the casting. Thanks to the resourcefulness of Lyric's management, several supporting roles were filled by understudies and singers who were scheduled to perform in a specific role were shifted to another. Not to worry -- none of the principals were affected. It all came off brilliantly without a misstep in a seamlessly cohesive yet firmly traditional staging of Puccini's extremely popular opera. 3 SPOTLIGHTS
**** Recommended **** The Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show pays tribute to 25 years of synchronized Irish dance in a spectacular fashion. The Anniversary Show features the beautiful scenery, haunting music, poetry and song of Ireland. Add in gorgeous costumes and a little extra zing from Spain, Russia and the USA, and you’ve gotta love it! I give “Riverdance” 4 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. I am in awe! Every movement was graceful, precise and exquisitely performed. This will be the fourth time I’ve seen/reviewed “The Nutcracker” and I love everything about it, including the glorious music played by the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. By the way, this is the final appearance of “The Nutcracker” at the Auditorium Theatre. 4 BIG Holiday Spotlights!