Winter classical music preview: Diverse events, from 'Boheme' to Boulez

CSO and Pierre Boulez

CSO and Pierre Boulez (January 4, 2013)

The period from the new year through the end of March invariably includes some of the most highly anticipated events of Chicago's classical music season. Here are 10 such events, listed in chronological order:

Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti: Before leading the orchestra on a winter tour of the Far East, the music director will direct two weeks of subscription concerts, including sizable helpings of Beethoven and Brahms, along with less familiar works by Stravinsky and Busoni. Wednesday to Jan. 19 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $31-$265 at 312-294-3000, cso.org

Winter Chamber Music Festival: The 17th edition of the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music's annual celebration of the infinite variety of chamber music will include the Calder and Escher string quartets, the chamber orchestra A Far Cry and the New Century Chamber Orchestra, with violinist-conductor Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Friday-Jan. 31 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston; $10-$30; 847-467-4000, pickstaiger.org

Puccini's "La Boheme," Lyric Opera: Grand opera's most enduringly popular tear-jerker returns to the Lyric for two series of winter performances, each with a different pair of central lovers. Mimi in the January-February series will be sung by Ana Maria Martinez, with Dimitri Pittas making his house debut as Rodolfo. Headlining the March performances will be Anna Netrebko, in her long-awaited Lyric debut, partnered by Joseph Calleja. Sharing their Bohemian quarters will be Elizabeth Futral, Lucas Meachem, Andrea Silvestrelli, Joseph Lim and Dale Travis. Emmanuel Villaume conducts, with Louisa Muller directing. Jan. 21-Feb. 7 and March 9-28 at Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive; $32-$239 at 312-332-2244, ext. 5600; lyricopera.org

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: The international musical collective from New York City begins its second season residency here with programs spotlighting gifted emerging musicians as well as such stellar regulars as co-directors David Finckel and Wu Han. Jan. 24, Feb. 8, April 5 and May 8 at Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St.; $15-$30 at 312-334-7777, harristheaterchicago.org

Wagner's "Die Meistersinger," Lyric Opera: Back at Lyric for the first time since 1999 is this richly human comedy, the company's winter contribution to the Wagner bicentenary. James Morris will portray the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, with Johan Botha as Walther, Amanda Majeski as Eva and Bo Skovhus as Beckmesser. New to Chicago will be David McVicar's production, highly praised when it opened at England's Glyndebourne Festival in 2010. Andrew Davis conducts. Feb. 8-March 3 at Civic Opera House; $32-$239 at 312-332-2244, ext. 5600; lyricopera.org

Museum of Contemporary Art: MCA Stage is going all out for contemporary music this winter. Ensemble-in-residence ICE collaborates with composers Carla Kihlstedt and Phyllis Chen (Feb. 16). The Chicago period instrument group Baroque Band presents newly commissioned works by Anna Clyne, Elbio Barilari and four other composers, each piece to be paired with a corresponding Bach "Brandenburg" Concerto (Feb. 21-24). And Fifth House Ensemble has tapped composers Caleb Burhans and John Zorn for new works (March 9). Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; $10-$28 at 312-397-4010, mcachicago.org

Philip Glass' "The Fall of the House of Usher," Chicago Opera Theater: The Andreas Mitisek era at COT begins with the local premiere of the minimalist master's 1987 adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's horror classic. Mitisek, the company's new general director, will conduct this season opener, in a production staged by Ken Cazan. Feb. 23-March 1 at Harris Theater; $52-$338 at 312-704-8414, chicagooperatheater.org

Paul Lewis: The compelling British pianist concludes his three-season, five-concert survey here of Schubert's mature piano works with the composer's final three sonatas. March 3 at Symphony Center; $19-$77 at 312-294-3000, cso.org

CSO and Pierre Boulez: Absent from the podium last season because of an eye ailment, the orchestra's octogenarian conductor emeritus returns to lead two weeks of subscription concerts. The programs hold signature 20th-century classics by Debussy, Messiaen, Stravinsky, Bartok and Schoenberg, along with works by Wagner and Mahler. But, alas, none of Boulez's own music. March 7-16 at Symphony Center; $24-$212 at 312-294-3000, cso.org

Andre Previn's "A Streetcar Named Desire," Lyric Opera: Previn based his first opera on Tennessee Williams' iconic American play, tailoring the juicy central role of Blanche DuBois to the vocal and dramatic persona of Renee Fleming. The soprano, who since went on to become Lyric's creative consultant, will re-create the part in four "staged concert performances" that will mark the work's Chicago premiere. The cast includes Susanna Phillips, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Anthony Dean Griffey, with Evan Rogister conducting. March 26-April 6 at Civic Opera House; $32-$239 at 312-332-2244, ext. 5600; lyricopera.org

jvonrhein@tribune.com

Twitter @jvonrhein

CHICAGO

More