The Top 10 classical music events of the fall in Chicago

Sep 12, 2016 | Press | 0 comments

Some of the grandest of grand operas, and some of the smallest of the small. A lavish celebration of the vital Chicago new classical music scene. Riccardo Muti leading a festive final salute to the 125th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Early music rarities presented by Haymarket Opera, Newberry Consort, Joyce DiDonato and the newly formed Third Coast Baroque. All that, and a great deal more, awaits audience members in the autumn portion of Chicago’s 2016-17 classical music season.

Here are 10 highlights, presented chronologically:

Haymarket Opera Company: One of the city’s most vital early music ensembles returns to the Athenaeum Theatre, in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, with a neglected Classical gem — Franz Joseph Haydn’s 1779 “L’isola disabitata” (“The Deserted Island”), in what is in all likelihood the opera’s local professional premiere. Artistic director Craig Trompeter leads the four-member cast and a period-instrument orchestra that includes Jory Vinikour on fortepiano. Sept. 17-18 at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave.; $27-$65 at

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The maestro and his musicians launch the Orchestra Hall season with a pair of seventh symphonies — Bruckner’s No. 7, on the opening week’s subscription program, Sept. 22-27; the Beethoven Seventh for the music director’s concerts of Sept. 29-Oct. 1. There will be more Beethoven in the Muti/CSO free community concert, Oct. 13 at Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester Ave. Muti and friends will conclude the CSO’s 125th anniversary celebration by recreating the very first program given by the orchestra in 1891, with pianist Daniil Trifonov as soloist, at the Oct. 15 Symphony Ball. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $34-$259 at

Chicago Opera Theater: The city’s second opera company is bringing adventuresome music theater to two new Chicago venues this fall. Opening the season will be a rare staging of Swiss composer Frank Martin’s “Le Vin Herbe” (“The Love Potion”), a 1942 chamber oratorio based on the Tristan and Isolde legend; Sept. 30-Oct. 9 at Music Box Theater, 3733 N. Southport Ave. The season will continue with a contemporary adaptation of Henry Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen,” a baroque semi-opera inspired by the masques in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Nov. 5-13 at Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave.; $39-$125 at

“Das Rheingold”: All eyes in the opera world will be on Chicago this fall when Lyric Opera of Chicago launches its 2016-17 season with the first music drama of Richard Wagner’s monumental tetralogy “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (“The Ring of the Nibelung”). Lyric’s new “Ring” cycle (to be unveiled one segment per season through 2019-20) is staged by the celebrated British director David Pountney and conducted by Lyric music director Andrew Davis, with bass-baritone Eric Owens heading an international roster as Wotan, king of the gods. Ringheads, assume your places. Oct. 1-22 at Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive; $62-$299 at

Ear Taxi Festival: Here’s a prestigious first for the city: A one-of-a-kind, Chicago-centric celebration of contemporary classical music, running for six consecutive days in venues across the city and enlisting the talents of more than 300 local musicians and nearly 90 living composers, more than 27 hours of new music. No one performance will overlap the other, so you can catch every event if you’re so inclined. Oct. 5-10 at various locations; multiple-event passes begin at $36, single-event tickets are $5-$26 at

Newberry Consort: To begin its 30th anniversary season, Chicago’s flagship early music ensemble explores a little-known theatrical genre from Shakespeare’s time — bawdy stage jigs, mini-dramas set to popular Elizabethan tunes. English actor-singer-dancer Steve Player will impersonate Will Kemp, one of the leading clowns in the Elizabethan theater, assisted here by singers and a violin band. Oct. 21-23 at the Newberry Library and other venues; season passes are $99 and $130 at

Third Coast BaroqueHard on the heels of the demise of Baroque Band comes the formation of another Chicago early music instrumental and vocal ensemble, this one under the direction of the Vienna-based conductor and period specialist Ruben Dubrovsky. The group’s inaugural concerts include works by Claudio Monteverdi and Mexican baroque composer Gaspar Fernandez. Nov. 6 at Columbus Park Refectory, 500 S. Central Ave.; and Nov. 8 at St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church, 1424 N. Dearborn St.;

Hilary Hahn and Isabelle Faust: The violinists, two of the brightest lights of their generation, appear in separate recitals. Hahn will be joined by pianist Robert Levin for a wide-ranging program that includes sonatas by Bach and Mozart. Nov. 1 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $37-$116 at For her local recital debut, Faust will perform three Beethoven sonatas (including the “Spring”) with pianist Alexander Melnikov. Nov. 11 at Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th St.; $5-$35 at

“Les Troyens”: Making its long-awaited Lyric Opera premiere will be Hector Berlioz’s epic French music drama, “The Trojans,” which British director Tim Albery will stage. Heading the large cast will be soprano Christine Goerke as Cassandra, mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch as Dido and tenor Brandon Jovanovich as Aeneas. Andrew Davis will conduct. Note that only five performances are scheduled and tickets are scaled sky-high. Nov. 13-Dec. 3 at Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive; $149-$349 at

Joyce DiDonato: The charismatic American mezzo, fresh from fall solo duties with Muti and the CSO, returns to downtown Chicago to present a concert of baroque arias by Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel and others, accompanied by the period-instrument band Il Pomo d’Oro. Dec. 9 at Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph; $35-$125 at

John von Rhein is a Tribune critic.

Twitter @jvonrhein

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