American AF

Enjoy a range of performances that is a fair representation of our nation.

On Wednesday and Friday, Grant Park Music Festival presents Roberto Sierra's Missa Latina "Pro Pace" for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra (2004-06). Peruvian-born conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya leads the excellent orchestra and chorus in a mass setting that has the feeling of a Western-European-Latin-American mash-up in the best possible way. Contemporary music specialist Jessica Rivera gets many opportunities to show off her warm yet silvery instrument. And third year Ryan Opera Center baritone Takaoki Onishi is proving to be equally attractive in concert as he is in the Kavalier-baritone repertoire.  The 85-minute work, which embraces tonality and recognizable rhythmic hooks, has all the ingredients to be a true crowd pleaser. 

Another "pro-pace" crowd-pleaser continues its critically-acclaimed run. Chicago Folks Operetta's presentation of Kurt Weill's Johnny Johnson resumes on Friday. A standout vocal performance can be expected from baritone Maxwell Seifert in the role of Captain Valentine. But the emotional heart of the show, the performer upon which this production's success relies, is the tender and sincere portrayal of Johnny Johnson by baritone Gabriel di Gennaro. Brace yourself for the emotional, gut-punching scenes in Act II between Johnny and the young German sniper Johann played with a convincing accent by actor Joseph Frantzen. CFO is also offering a concert of World War I era operetta selections Wednesday and Thursday – a chance to hear rarely performed operetta by Emmerich Kálmán, Leo Fall, Henri Christine, Ivor Novello, Harold Fraser-Simson and Franz Lehár. Soloists are the impressive Maxwell Seifert alongside sopranos Desirée Hassler, Alison Kelly, and tenor Gerald Frantzen with pianist Anatoliy Torchinskiy.

The inspiring biography of 31 year-old bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2011, threatens to overshadow his artistry. Chicago audiences will have their first chance to hear the juvenile-delinquent-cum-international-opera-star when Green gives a recital with pianist Adam Nielsen on Monday at Ravinia's Martin Theatre. Green and Nielsen will devote half of their program to settings of African-American poetry in addition to some of the hits for low male voices from the Lieder repertoire like Der Atlas and Der Doppelgänger.

Quick Pick: For lovers of the composer Anonymous, Schola Antiqua's Michael Alan Anderson has been leading a polyphony and plainchant workshop this week.  A free performance on Friday at St. John Cantius will give the participants a chance to show off what they have gleamed from the esteemed Eastman School of Music professor in one of the city's great spaces for Renaissance music.