Carmen – 2017- Lyric Opera of Chicago

The story revolves around a Spanish gypsy (the wild free-loving Carmen, played seductively by mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova) and the man she takes as a lover, a Spanish corporal, Don José (The powerful tenor Joseph Calleja). He is an upright but flawed man, with a mother and would-be fiancée in his home village; quick to temper and impulsive, when he shirks the advances of the beautiful gypsy, she finds him irresistible and throws a rose at him, striking him between the eyes. Having bewitched him, Carmen convinces Don José to go to prison in her stead; upon his release, he finds her, and she wants to run away together.

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Salute To Vienna New Year’s Concert 2017

Salute to Vienna celebrates more than 21 years of New Year’s concerts, rounding off the holiday season with entertaining, light-hearted performances in 23 North American cities this year. More than 60,000 concert-goers will party like it’s 1899 between December 27 and January 3, when Salute to Vienna will kick off 2017 in the 81-year old tradition of Vienna’s world famous “Neujahrskonzert”

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The Nutcracker (Joffrey)

The story is minimal but allows Joffrey to establish a tone of vaguely holiday related fancy. A family is hosting a Christmas party. The older child, Clara, is calm and well-behaved, while her hyperactive little brother Fritz is everywhere at once. A magician, Dr. Drosselmeyer, arrives and produces mechanical dolls to delight the guests. Gifts are exchanged; some genius gave Fritz a bugle. Dr. Drosselmeyer gives Clara a figurine nut cracker in the shape of a soldier, which Fritz breaks within two seconds. That night, the dolls come to life and battle against mice trying to eat them. Clara saves the nutcracker by bonking the mouse king with her slipper, and in gratitude nutcracker, now a handsome prince, takes her and Dr. Drosselmeyer to a magical kingdom to be entertained for the night.

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Sphinx Virtuosi Concert

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, I was luck enough to experience on the finest chamber music orchestra, Sphinix Virtuois with Catalyst Quartet as they Tour in their Americana program. The young dynamic troupe is a professional chamber orchestra and theonly all-Black and Latino string orchestra in America. This 18 person is a a one month tour is an homage to The Star Spangled Banner as member and composer-in-residence premieres a new work titled Banner as an ode to our beloved anthem.

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Gala Benefit Evening at the Ravinia Festival

In short, although none of the repertoire here was completely first-rate (the Mozart overture excepted), and despite my reservations about Joshua Bell’s playing, this was a highly engaging evening of music, and the performance of the Dvořák was beyond reproach. James Conlon clearly has an exceptional rapport with this ensemble and often brings out its best; I, for one, would gladly welcome him as a frequent guest during the regular CSO season at Orchestra Hall.

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All-Beethoven Program at Ravinia Festival

The opening performance of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture at the CSO concert he presided over at Ravinia on Thursday evening gave barely a glimpse of the heights to which his conducting would rise at its best over the course of the program. The orchestra played especially well for him, with clean articulation and a good deal of alertness, but the piece – part of the incidental music written to Goethe’s play of the same name, but perhaps not Beethoven at his most inspired – never quite came alive, between the at-times wooden phrasing (especially in the woodwinds) and lack of passionate abandon; the somewhat restrained tempo did not help matters, either.

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