Enough has been written and said about the loss of hope many of us feel right now. The question remains, how will our new circumstances affect the arts? Will the community fiercely support all the fledgling organizations that are trying to give voice to the unsung? Can the economy dramatically improve and will that create more jobs for professional musicians? Does making America great again mean going back to only performing Zeffirelli productions?
If you need catharsis there are a few good options this weekend. For the cerebral, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus offer you the Brahms Requiem. The German soloists are baritone Michael Nagy and soprano Christiane Karg. The prestigious concert singer and rising opera star Karg gets to make us all cry with the ethereal plaint Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit but does not sing the instrumental-only Isolde's Liebestod which is listed on the program. Chicago audiences will get a few opportunities to become familiar with her artistry as she is Lyric Opera's Pamina this winter and participates in Lyric Unlimited's Beyond the Aria at the Harris Theater.
Perhaps you would just like to disappear into a theater for five hours and be awash in decadent singing. Look no further than Lyric Opera's Les Troyens which opens Sunday. It is an opera full of tragedy, betrayal, and destruction. Nasty Women are the heroes of the plot but they do not fare well. The glorious Christine Goerke is Cassandra (enough reason to attend) and Chicago favorite Susan Graham replaces Sophie Koch in the role of Dido. This is an opera you won't see staged very often – it is colossally expensive to produce. Let's not let Lyric Opera regret putting this thing together. Go see it and pack a sandwich and a flask full of tequila.
Chicago Opera Theater completes its run of The Fairy Queen at the almost-refurbished Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building. Soprano Kim Jones is the fairy queen (Ti-)Tanya and is assigned all the hits: Hark! How all things, Hark! The echoing air, Ye gentle spirits, See, even Night, and O let me weep. Jones is a glamorous woman with a rich lyric instrument and is obliged to run around the stage in 6-inch heels. Bass baritone Cedric Berry is the charismatic, oddly lovable alpha (Obe-)Ron with very convincing vocal chops. The cast has some true Early Music cred with Jory Vinikour conducting the orchestra of the Haymarket Opera Company and countertenors Ryan Belongie and Darryl Taylor filling out the cast. Tenor Scott Brunscheen shows off a very elegant tone in his solos. The music fights with the concept of reimagining the charming Faerie Bower as a Vegas nite club. The script is sometimes jarring. The sexuality is explicit. You have been warned.
If you find yourself in the lobby of the Studebaker on Friday before or after Fairy Queen, don't forget that the second Friday of every month is Open Studios at the Fine Arts Building and Eugenia Cheng's Liederstube is on the 7th floor. Maybe exactly what you need to feel better after this dreadful week is to sing Ich grolle nicht - which often happens like a congregational hymn at the 'Stube. Admission is free as always. There is wine, cookies, a comprehensive library of German and French art song, and a dedicated team of friends who make music for themselves out of love, expecting nothing in return.