The Week of Beauty

Danielle de Niese wowed Chicago audiences early in her career in an unforgettable Chicago Opera Theater production of The Coronation of Poppea which also starred soprano countertenor Michael Maniaci.  She returned to COT as an erotically potent Titania in their otherwise family-friendly Midsummer Night's Dream.  As her star rose, Chicago was treated to what has become a benchmark performance as Cleopatra in the McVicar production of Giulio Cesare at  Lyric Opera. An undeniable prowess on stage coupled with a tangy vocal timbre makes her one of the most unique artists of her generation.  Now she joins the faculty of the esteemed Steans Music Institute Program for Singers at Ravinia Festival.  She will work with the vocal fellows in a public masterclass this Saturday at 2pm; a class that will also be live streamed and archived on YouTube.  On Thursday, she and RSMI program director Kevin Murphy offer a recital which includes Grieg's mystical mountain maid song cycle Haugtussa and a Bizet song Adieux de l'hôtesse Arabe - both of which  would seem to be a perfect fit for De Niese. 

Grant Park Music Festival approaches the end of its ten week season, but not before offering a masterpiece of the sacred repertoire - Mozart’s “Great” Mass in C minor for orchestra, chorus, and four soloists. Christopher Bell prepared the chorus as his duty of his summer at Grant Park; Artistic Director Carlos Kalmar returns to the festival to conduct. Mozart's score for the soloists is very soprano heavy and includes the meditative and staggeringly difficult "Et incarnatus est" as well as a bouncy "Laudamus te," a "Christe eleison" that sounds like it should be sung by a priestess, and the "Domine Deus" duet that gives a chance for both soprano soloists to compare high Bb's.  

One of the soloists is native Chicagoan Janai Brugger who, coincidentally,  participated in the RSMI program in 2011.  Her credits include appearances at LA Opera, the Met, and Ravinia Festival, but around here, she will always be proudly known as a graduate of DePaul University’s School of Music.  Her voice is simply ravishing, her career is already hinting at being huge, and we are so lucky to have her as an inspiration in this community. Joining Ms. Brugger is Ryan Opera Center's Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi, tenor Hoss Brock, and bass Daniel Eifert.  Performances of the Mass in C minor are free Friday and Saturday at Millennium Park.