Taste of Chicago mixes old and new

The City of Chicago is stirring some more exotic, well, at least, international and trendy, flavors into Taste of Chicago but is not neglecting comfort food or desserts or forgetting long-time faves.

Taste of Chicago has pop ups, food trucks, and five-day vendors. City of Chicago photo
Taste of Chicago has pop ups, food trucks, and five-day vendors. City of Chicago photo

Settling in along Columbus Drive (closed for the event) in Grant Park will be 67 vendors that include these 17 new-to-Taste places: American Glory, Aztec Dave’s Food truck, Ben’s Bar Be Cue, Bob Bar Truck, Brightwok Kitchen, Broken English, Cheesie’s Pub and Grub, Doom Street Eats, El Patron, Hakka Bakka Indian Kati Rolls, Just Salad, Lawrence’s Fish & Shrimp, the Little Beet table, Seoul Taco, The Cajun Connoisseur, Ukai Japanese Restaurant and Warm Belly Bakery.

Just hearing the names of these “fooderies” is mouth-watering enough to put stars on the calendar for July 5-9, 2017. But Taste aficionados can still count on getting their ribs at Robsinson’s, a slice of pizza at Lou Malnati’s and dessert fix at Eli’s Cheescake’s booths.

Yes, the event has been billed as the world’s largest free food festival but that just means no gate charge shape shifting into a crumb-snatching pigeon.  Food and beverages are gotten by handing over the number of tickets required for each item the  booths. Since a strip of 14 tickets cost $10, visitors would do well to purchase more than one strip.

However, checking out some of Chicago’s wonderful culinary choices is just part of Taste. There are good bands, excellent celebrity chef dinners, wine and beer gardens, dance and art events and cooking demonstrations.

Tickets starting at $19 can be purchased now for concerts at the park’s Petrillo Music Shell by Alessia Cara, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The O’Jays, Café Tacvba and Passion Pit.  There will also be local bands playing on the Bud Light Stage.

A different celebrity chef will do a three-course, sit-down dinner in an air conditioned tent each night. Tickets are $45 and must be purchased in advance.

For more Celebrity Chef dinner information and tickets and concert tickets visit Taste of Chicago.

Taste of Chicago, July 5-9, 2017, is in Grant Park on Columbus Drive from Monroe to Balbo.  Hours are 11am–9pm Wednesday through Friday and 10am–9pm on Saturday and Sunday.

 

 

Around Chicago: April 21 and more

Itzhak Perlman comes to Lyric for a matinee April 23, 2017. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco
Itzhak Perlman comes to Lyric for a matinee April 23, 2017. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco

The good news is that Chicago is an arts mecca. The problem news is that Chicago is such an arts mecca that it is arguably impossible to catch all the terrific music, art, dance, theater and exhibits offered in the city and suburbs. Listed here is a sampling of really good events that might not have made it to your arts radar.

 

April 21, 2017

Rita Rudner

Comedienne extraordinaire Rita Rudner will be on stage at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m. April 21. A regular act at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Rudner is also a screenwriter, best-selling author, actress and playwright.  For tickets and other information call (847) 673-6300 or visit North Shore Center. The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts is at 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie.

 

April 22-23, 2017

The Perfect American

Philip Glass has fictionalized Walt Disney’s final days as an opera. Composed of dreams and nightmares revolving around the fate of his kingdom and legacy, it includes recognizable people. The Chicago Opera Theater is performing the Chicago premiere of ‘The Perfect American’ at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. The Harris is in Millennium Park at 205 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago. For tickets and other information call (312) 334 -7777 or visit Harris.

 

April 23, 2017

Itzhak Perlman

The Lyric Opera of Chicago is bringing the famed violinist to the city for one performance. It is 3 p.m. Sunday at the Civic Opera House. Accompanied by pianist Rohan De Silva,  Perlman’s program includes Vivaldi’s Sonata in A Major for Violin and Continuo, Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Major, Schumann’s Fantasiestuck, and Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in G Major. The Civic Opera House is at 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For tickets and other information call (312) 827-5600 or visit Lyric.

Odysseo extends through May 7, 2017. Dan Harper photo
Odysseo extends through May 7, 2017. Dan Harper photo

 

Now through May 7, 2017

Odysseo by Cavalia

‘Odysseo,’ a wondrous equestrian production visiting Chicago from Canada, that also includes acrobatics and aerial performances, has been extend through May 7. Drivers who have gone by Soldier Field or the Museum Campus will have seen the huge white tent where ‘Odysseo’ takes place. But what they might not know unless they’ve attended a show is that it has a 17,500 square foot stage that includes a three-story-high hill and other natural elements. The staging makes attendees feel as if they have been transported to the land where these horses cavort instead of the other way around. Entry is through the parking gates on East 18th Drive. For tickets and other information call (866) 999-8111 or visit Cavalia.

 

April 25 through May 7, 2017

Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet is doing ‘Global Visionaries,’ a tribute to several choreographers that includes the world  premiere of a piece by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman and the Chicago premier of a ballet by Russian choreographer Yuri Possokhov. Also showcased is Dutch choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s ‘Mammatus. The program is at the  Auditorium Theatre 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. For tickets and other information call (312) 341-2310 or visit Auditorium Theatre.

 

 

Stoneism rolls through past rock eras with Exhibitionism

 

If you’re a fan of legendary rockers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and their Rolling Stones band you needn’t ask why go to Navy Pier to see Exhibitionism.

Rolling Stones instruments and more in Exhibitionism. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Rolling Stones instruments and more in Exhibitionism. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

An all encompassing retrospective, the traveling show that opens April 15 and goes through July 30, 2017,  has rooms of costumes, films, posters, art, recordings, instruments and personal paraphernalia, that are likely to bring back memories of concert tours and albums.

But even if other bands have had you screaming and shaking, the exhibit is still worth seeing as a cultural and musical phenomenon that goes back to the 1960s and continues in the 21st century.

A British export that is a combo of blues and rock ‘n’ roll, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. But they proved they could still draw crowds with their record breaking concerts: Voodoo Lounge Tour in 1994–95 and Bridges to Babylon Tour, 1997–98, to their Licks Tour in 2002–03 and A Bigger Bang Tour, 2005–07.

Band recording studio in Exhibitionism show. Jodie Jacobs photo
Band recording studio in Exhibitionism show.
Jodie Jacobs photo

What to expect at “Exhibitionism.” The show recreates the Chelsea (London) flat in Edith Grove shared in 1962 by Jagger, Richards and Brian (Jones shared in 1962. Also recreated is a Stones’ recording studio and a backstage area. There is a guitar room that includes Richards’ Maton that came apart during “Gimme Shelter.”

But where some visitors may be snapping photos and selfies is the fashion gallery of impressive costumes. They’re devilishly wild and what would be expected of the Stones. Save time to watch the films that include a concert near the exhibit’s end.

Jagger and Richards explained on the Rolling Stones website the why behind “Exhibitionism.”

Rolling Stones costumes in Exhibitionism at Navy Pier. Jodie Jacobs phto
Rolling Stones costumes in Exhibitionism at Navy Pier.
Jodie Jacobs photo

“We’ve been thinking about this for quite a long time but we wanted it to be just right and on a large scale,” said Mick. “It’s not going to be like walking into a museum. It’s going to be an event, an experience. It’s about a sense of The Rolling Stones – it’s something we want people to go away talking about it.”

“While this is about The Rolling Stones, it’s not necessarily only just about us,” said Keith. “It’s also about all the paraphernalia and technology associated with a group like us, and it’s this, as well as the instruments that have passed through our hands over the years, that should make the exhibition unforgettable.”

Details: “Exhibitionism is at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Av., Chicago, April 15 to July 30, 2017. For tickets and other information visit Stones Exhibitionism.

 

CSO features Stravinsky and Fauré Requiem

There’s still a chance to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra do the “Funeral Song,” a recently rediscovered work of Igor Stravinsky.

Conducted by renowned Stravinsky interpreter Charles Dutoit  who is guest conducting the CSO now through April 15, the “Funeral Song”  is on the program tonight, April 8, at 8 p.m. and again April 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Dutoit guest conductor at CSO. Photo compliments of CSO
Dutoit guest conductor at CSO. Photo compliments of CSO

Stravinsky wrote the piece after the death of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov more than a century ago, but it was only rediscovered when its orchestral parts, found at the St. Petersburg Kimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory, were recently pieced backed together.

The Stravinsky work leads off a program that includes Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor with soloist Truls Mork and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major.

For a special Easter program Dutoit will conduct the CSO in Fauré’s Requiem featuring the Chicago Symphony Chorus, soprano Chen Reiss and baritone Matthias Goerne April 13,14 and 15.

Reiss, an Israeli soprano who has performed with conductors Zubin Mehta, Sir Simon Rattle and James Levine, will be making her CSO debut. Goerne, a German baritone who has appeared at the Met, Covent Garden and the Vienna State Opera, is returning to Symphony Center for the “Requiem.”

Dutoit is chief conductor and artistic adviser of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also music director of the Verbier Festival Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The programs are at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. For tickets and other information call (800) 223-7114 or visit CSO.

 

Around Town

Chicago goes from baroque and Broadway to bacon this week.

Going Baroque

If you haven’t made plans yet for tonight, March 27, 2017,  the glorious sounds of Music of the Baroque will fill the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The program is at 7:30 p.m. but there is a concert lecture across Michigan Avenue at the Chicago cultural Center at 6 p.m.

The Harris Theater is in Millennium Park at 205 E. Randolph Dr. For tickets and other information call (312) 551-1415 and visit Harris.

Fabulous multi-genre concert

The Handsome Family, John Pine and Shemekia Copeland were among the performers at the Chicago Voices Concert. Photo by Cory Weaver
The Handsome Family, John Pine and Shemekia Copeland were among the performers at the Chicago Voices Concert. Photo by Cory Weaver

Whether or not you made it to the Lyric to see the fabulous Chicago Voices Concert, you can see the concert on WTTW Channel 11 at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 30.

The concert features famed opera singer Renée Fleming, Blues Queen Shemekia Copeland, Broadway star Jessie Mueller, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, tenor Matthew Polenzani, gospel, pop and everything else singer Michelle Williams, folksinger John Prine, the indie folk group The Handsome family and the Trinity Mass choir.

Visit Chicago Theater and Arts for the concert review and go to Chicago Voices for other information.

Yummy Bacon

OK, listen up bacon lovers. Chicago has a Baconfest Friday March 31 and Saturday, April 1. Chefs from local restaurants will be tempting your taste buds and satisfying your bacon cravings at the IC Forum, 725 Roosevelt Rd. for tickets and other information visit bacon.

 

U2, Blues, Ravinia favs Diana Krall and OneRepublic, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza heat up Chicago summer nights

Get out the calendar to mark the 2017 summer music festivals you hope to catch. Copy the ticket info and good luck.

Blues comes to Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in June. Jodie Jacobs photo
Blues comes to Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in June. Jodie Jacobs photo

First, U2 + The Lumineers will be at Soldier Field June 3-4. Yes, they will be doing “The Joshua Tree” in its entirety.See  U2 + The Lumineers 

Then the Chicago Blues Festival is in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 Randolph St.) in Millennium Park June 9-11. It’s free admission. Headliners include Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues with special guest James Cotton. Also headlining are Rhymefest, William Bell, Gary Clark Jr., Rhiannon Giddens and Ronnie Baker Brooks. For tickets and other info visit Blues.

Next, is Ravinia, the wonderful outdoor music park in Highland Park.  For the full schedule click Ravinia.

John Legend’s “Darkness and Light Tour” is June 10. It opens with Grammy-nominated artist Gallant.

The multi-Oscar-nominated film,”La La Land,” will be shown under the stars on large screens accompanied by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Stelluto on June 18.

Gipsy Kings, a group that blends flamenco with pop and Latin rhythms comes Friday, June 23.

Tickets will soon be available for Ravinia Music Festival headliners. Jodie Jacobs photo
Tickets will soon be available for Ravinia Music Festival headliners. Jodie Jacobs photo

Diana Krall, a five-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist and vocalist comes June 28,

The Moody Blues do “Days of Future Passed” June 30.

OneRepublic & Fitz and The Tantrums are on stage July 14-15.

Blondie and Garbage start their 2017 “Rage and Rapture” tour at Ravinia July 22.

American Acoustic with Punch Brothers, I’m With Her and Julian Lage  are Aug. 14.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 9. Donors can request tickets March 22 depending on their giving level. For more information including early request dates. Visit Ravinia.
The Pitchfork Music Festival is back in Union Park July 14-16. Visit Pitchfork Music Festival  Headliners include. LCD Soundsystem,  A Tribe Called Quest and Solange

In addition Pitchfork is collaborating with Saint Heron, for an art installation, film screening, artist talks, late night jazz jam sessions. Visit Pitchfork for tickets and collaboration sites.

Lollapalooza  returns to Grant Park Aug. 3-6. Visit Lolla for tickets and

 

This Weekend: Entertainers perform for hunger relief

Heads up jazz fans.

The Green Mill features Chicago and touring jazz artists. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
The Green Mill features Chicago and touring jazz artists. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

It’s not too late to get over to a terrific jazz event. The 8th Annual Chi-Town Jazz Festival Supporting Hunger Relief ends this weekend. Tickets are only $20.

Tonight, Friday March 10, the Typhanie Monique Group with  the Sarah Marie Young Quartet and Aaron McEvers Quntet are performing at Winter’s Jazz club, 465 N. McClurg Ct.

Also tonight, Erwin Helfer is at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, 5650 S. Woodlawn.

Tomorrow, Saturday March 11, Tammy McCann and Jeremy Kahn are at PianoForte, 1335 S, Michigan Ave. and the Ron Perrillo Quartet plus Bakerzmillion and Jon Deitemyer are at the Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway.

For more info check ChiTown Jazz Festival’s facebook page.

Lyric ends opera season on a glorious Tchaikovsky note

RECOMMENDED

Director Robert Carsen who first did this Eugene Onegin at the Met in 1997, does an interesting presentation of the beloved Tchaikovsky opera.

Tchaikovsky opera 'Eugene Onegin' at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Tchaikovsky opera ‘Eugene Onegin’ at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Lyric photo

The curtain opens to reveal a distant, somewhat shadowy figure of baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as an Onegin who is gloomily leafing through the pages of an old letter.

How he came to this despondency unfolds through about 160 minutes (not including the intermission) of wonderfully lyrical and dramatic acting and singing guided by revival director Paula Suozzi and conductor Alejo Pérez. Read More

Alluring music, seductive leading lady and golden voiced lover makes this ‘Carmen’ a must see

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

‘Carmen,’ the popular opera by Georges Bizet’ where nearly all the music sounds very familiar, is an audience pleaser at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

A new production directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford who did the Lyric’s Carousel’ two seasons ago, the opera has the kind of important touches that make Broadway musicals special.

Ekaterina Gubanova (Carmen) teases Joseph Calleja (Don Jose) in 'Carmen' at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Photo by Todd Rosenberg
Ekaterina Gubanova (Carmen) teases Joseph Calleja (Don Jose) in ‘Carmen’ at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

There is fine acting of major roles, an outstanding voice, that of tenor Joseph Calleja as Don José, a leading lady, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova who seems born to the part of Carmen, modern dance movements that capture audience attention during musical interludes, and exciting music thrillingly played by the Lyric Opera Orchestra that has people tapping their toes during the opera and humming during intermission.

Ashford’s staging is creative. The final scene where Don José stabs Carmen rather than have her go to her most recent lover, the dashing bullfighter Escamillo (Christian Van Horn), is  set against the dramatic, high back of a bullfighting arena where its audience is silhouetted against a red-orange sky.

Excellent set design by David Rockwell and costumes by Julie Weiss beautifully fit the period, location and atmosphere.

But make no mistake. This is opera. Bizet’s music and the libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy have turned Prosper Mérimée’s ‘Carmen’ novella about seduction, jealousy and death into a dramatic opera, beautifully sung at the Lyric.

The takeaway from Lyric’s ‘Carmen’, a co-production with the Houston Grand Opera, is Gubanova’s ‘Habanera’ and ‘Seguidilla,’ Van Horn’s ‘Toreador Song’ and Calleja’s gorgeous ‘Flower Song.’

Details: ‘Carmen’ by Georges Bizet is at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, now through March 25. For tickets and other information visit Lyric Opera and call (312) 827-5600.

 

‘Mamma Mia’ moves to a vibrant disco beat

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

It doesn’t matter if you have seen’ Mamma Mia’ before. As an audience member sitting next to me at the Marriott Theatre said, “I saw it on Broadway. This is better.”

Cassie Slater (Rosie) Danni Smith (Donna) and Meghan Murphy (Tanya) in 'Mamma Mia!' at Marriott Theatre. Photo by Justin Barbin
Cassie Slater (Rosie) Danni Smith (Donna) and Meghan Murphy (Tanya) in ‘Mamma Mia!’ at Marriott Theatre. Photo by Justin Barbin

A jukebox musical based on the songs of ABBA, the Marriott production has it all: terrific solos, great dance numbers, fine staging and a perfect combo of light and sound that brings back the 1970s disco era. A Swedish group, ABBA was performing, basically from 1972 to 1982. Read More