Muti and Barrese

Enough ink has been spilled in praise of Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Music Director and his supremacy in Verdi. Last year's all-Italian cast Falstaff led by Riccardo Muti was easily one of the most uplifting, joyful, and energetic performances of that opera ever heard in Chicago. This week's four presentations of Muti conducts Italian Opera Masterworks with the magnificent Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago Children's Choir, and Italian bass Riccardo Zanellato should feel like a celebration, leaving the audience anxious for start of the fall season.

The charisma and curiosity of Anthony Barrese has been an invaluable asset to New Mexico's Opera Southwest where he serves as Artistic Director. Barrese's affinity for Rossini has given Opera Southwest a reputation as one North America's premiere bel canto opera companies. His critical edition of a rare bel canto version of Shakespeare's Hamlet by Franco Faccio was presented in a fully staged version by Opera Southwest and went on to be produced by Baltimore Concert Opera, Opera Delaware, and as part of Austria's Bergenz Festival. All of this to say that we Chicagoans should be paying attention to this rising star scholar and conductor.  His current project is a rare wartime operetta by Kurt Weill for Chicago Folks Operetta with an ensemble cast that includes soprano Christine Steyer, tenor William Dwyer, baritone Gabriel di Gennaro, and VAC favorite Mary Lutz Govertsen.

Quick Pick: Third Eye Theatre Ensemble presents a program of Latin American song with a expansive cast of singers that includes soprano Alexandra Kassouf who made a strong impression in Haymarket Opera Company's Summer Opera workshop presentation of  Cesti's L'Orontea.