Bach, Brownlee, and the Burning River

Two weeks before Easter, the choral offerings are beginning to stack up. Chicago Chorale returns to a work they have had much success with – the monumental B Minor Mass of J.S. Bach. The featured soloists are three Haymarket Opera Company stars Chelsea Morris (La Calisto, Actéon), Angela Young Smucker (Dido and Aeneas, Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo), and Ryan de Ryke (Pimpinone, Don Quichotte) along with “first-class” tenor Steven Soph (Chicago Classical Review) who sang the Evangelist in Chicago Chorale’s St. John Passion a few years ago. With the stylish orchestra of Haymarket Opera Company and the formidable Chicago Chorale conducted by Bruce Tammen, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel should be the place to be on Sunday afternoon.  Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin is a multi-media presentation of the Verdi Requiem with the Chicago Philharmonic; a pick-up chorus of Chicago’s best; soloists Jennifer Check, Ann McMahon QuinteroZach Borichevsky, and Nathan Stark; conducted by the project’s creator Murry Sidlin. The steep ticket price for Thursday’s performance at Symphony Center benefits the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s Holocaust Community Services. Finally, Music of the Baroque offers two performances of its chorus-forward program Glorious Chorus – Bach & Vivaldi. Choral professionals are BUSY this weekend.

Jazz and opera collide at the Harris Theater when Lyric Unlimited presents Lawrence Brownlee in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. The title role is a break from the flamboyant bel canto repertoire we are accustomed to hearing from this sought-after tenor. Also featured are Ryan Opera Center alum Will Liverman and one of the great Aida’s of our time, soprano Angela Brown.

Soprano, violinist, and cellist Malina Rauschenfels returns to Chicago with the Cleveland-based early music ensemble Burning River Baroque.  The program “On the Brink of Insanity: Portrayals of Women as Mad, Crazy, & Unhinged” seems to be the perfect vehicle for the theatrical antics and savage expressive skill of Rauschenfels.  Burning River Baroque made a dazzling Chicago-area debut last winter, partnering with our own early music diva Josefien Stoppelenburg.  This time BRB will be joined by one of Chicago’s premier continuo players – cellist Anna Steinhoff – in music of Handel, Purcell, Eccles, and an original work by Rauschenfels.