A few shows to add before toasting a new year


Music Theatrer Works cast of White Christmas at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. (All photos by Brett Beiner.
Music Theater Works cast of White Christmas at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. (All photos by Brett Beiner.

Certainly, holiday shows such as Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker,” on stage to Dec. 27, and Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol,” up through Dec 31, were on our calendars two months ago to plan the outing. Both are traditional go-to shows for many Chicagoans.

But the season for holiday shows won’t be over until the last toast hails a new year. So here are a few shows that may not have caught your attention. One is a good-old standby that still merits a seat while one is a startling new take on an old stand-by and one is fun for youngsters. They can fit into the remaining count-down days of 2022.

 “White Christmas” just opened at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie with Irving Berlin’s music and lyrics and a new book by David Ives and Paul Blake. it’s a post WWII feel-good, rom/com with joyous music and such lasting melodies as “Blue Skies,” “Count Your Blessings,” and “How Deep is the Ocean.” Presented by Music Theater Works which used to use Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, “White Christmas” continues through Jan. 1, 2023 at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie. For tickets call (847) 673-6300 or visit musictheaterworks


Lizi Breit and LaKecia Harris in "Manual Cinema's Christmas Carol" at Writers Theatre (Liz Lauren photographer)
Lizi Breit and LaKecia Harris in “Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol” at Writers Theatre (Liz Lauren photographer)

Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol” at Writers Theatre is not a  Goodman Theatre-style production although it mostly uses Dicken’s storyline.  Aunt Trudy has been asked by her late husband Joe’s relatives to do the “Christmas Carol” puppet show that he did annually. She says she’s not really an aunt to the relatives watching on zoom since she never married “husband” Joe and her unhappiness comes across at the start of the show. A storm arrives, the power goes out and ghostly “puppets” intervene until  Trudy realizes she has no choice but continue the Christmas Carol story with shadow puppets and ghosts. She, as was Scrooge, is a different person by the end of the play. Manual Cinema’s “Christmas Carol” is at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, through Dec. 24. For tickets and more information visit Writers Theatre.  Masks are highly recommended. (Audience most be age 6 and older).


“Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” is playing at Strawdog Theatre in the Edgewater neighborhood. Based on the Caldecott Honor award-winning book by Eric Kimmel and adapted by ensemble member Michael Dailey with music and lyrics by Jacob Combs, the play follows a traveling troupe of actors who find no one in a town they visit are celebrating Hanukkah because goblins haunt the old synagogue. The production continues through 31, 2022 at The Edge Off-Broadway Theater. Tickets are free with reservations at www.strawdog.org. (COVID protocol: Audience members aged 2+ years must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth. Audience members aged 5+ years must provide, before entering the venue proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or proof of negative PCR test.)


Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Fun Chicago ice skating downtown


McCormick Tribune Ice Rink attracts visitors to Millennium Park in winter. (City of Chicago photo)
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink attracts visitors to Millennium Park in winter. (City of Chicago photo)

If guests are in town for the holidays or enjoying Chicago’s festive downtown before the season ends is on the do list, think skating near skyscrapers, colorful lights, holiday trees. Think Downtown Chicago. Two ice rinks are in or next to Millennium Park and one is a short distance away at Navy Pier. Bring skates or rent them.

 McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Operated by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and special Events, the Millennium Park Foundation and presented by Hilton, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink has free admission. However, skaters need to reserve a time. Very few time slots may be available at the last minute. Sessions are 90 minutes.

The rink has been up since mid-November and continues through March 5, 2023, weather permitting. It’s at 11 N. Michigan Ave. between Randolph and Monroe Streets.

Skaters are requested to arrive 45 minutes before their reserved admission time. Snacks and hot drinks are available in Momentum Coffee and Millennium Hall. For Thursday through Sunday and holiday sessions at 5 p.m. and later, entrance is at a Security Checkpoint. For weather closure updates check Millennium Park’s facebook and twitter pages.

Skate rental is $20. More info and visit planning at Chicago.gov/millennium info and Dept. Cultural Affairs and Special Events.


Skat the Ribbon in Maggie Daley Park (City of Chicago photo)
Skat the Ribbon in Maggie Daley Park (City of Chicago photo)

Maggie Daley Park

 Run by the Chicago P:ark District, MDP’s Skating Ribbon is at 337 e. Randolph St. and is also accessible from a bridge crossing Columbus Drive and the nearby bike path.

Skate rental with admission is $16 on line and $18 walk-up Monday through Thursday. Sessions are free those days if b ringing your own skates. But prices are higher weekends and holidays.

 For more info, time slot reservations including rolling ticket release dates and costs visit Ice SkatingRribbon. Park & Ice Ribbon Management: 312.552.3000 · Fieldhouse: 312.742.3918.


Navy Pier Alpine Ice Skating Rink

The Pier’s ice rink is part of “Light Up the Lake” festival on now through Jan. 7, 2023.. Bring skates or rent them, There’s no charge beyond the festival admission of $15 for adults and children. Lockers are also available. Area is not for photo and flashing light sensitive visitors. Online tickets needed.

For more information visit Light up the Lake/Navy Pier.

Jodie Jacobs 


Around Town eyes One of a Kind and Swedish Andersonville


One of a Kind Show at the Mart (J Jacobs photo)
One of a Kind Show at the Mart (J Jacobs photo)

With so many fun, tasty and sparkling events now happening post COVID shutdowns it’s easy to miss a couple that should be on the calendar, this year.

One of a Kind

It’s an art show, a gourmet gift show and a stuffing-stocker show.

Wear comfortable walking shoes here because One of a Kind’s holiday show takes up an entire floor of The Mart. It’s that gigantic building on Wacker Drive and the Chicago River (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza).

Held Dec. 1-4, there are more than 500 booths to peruse ranging from photography, glass, wearable art jewelry, paintings and woodwork to tasty spices, chocolates, candies and sauces.

For tickets and more information visit One of a Kind



Home to the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St., Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood is holds a Julmarknad holiday market, a St. Lucia Festival of Lights and a Julmiddag, the traditional Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord.

 The Julmarknad , a holiday bazaar of Scandinavian and other crafts plus Santa and entertainment is Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..  

 The St. Lucia Festival of Lights is Dec. 13 with its crowning down in the Nordic House at the Wrigley Building (400 N. Michigan Ave.) at noon and the candle-lit procession in Andersonville on Clark Street beginning at 4:45 p.m. Visit St. Lucia Festival of Lights.

 Then the Julmiddag smörgåsbord is at the Museum Dec. 18, 2022 at 5 p.m. It includes a St. Lucia procession, a visit from Tomten (Santa) and dancing around the Christmas tree. Make reservations at julmiddag. by Dec. 13.

 For additional information on the Museum’s Christmas events, visit swedishamericanmuseum.org. For details on other holiday events in Andersonville, visit the Chamber/Andersonville.


 Around town finds three Thanksgiving weekend fun doings


Art Institute of Chicago Wreathing of the Lions. (Photo by AIC)
Art Institute of Chicago Wreathing of the Lions. (Photo by AIC)

Mark the calendar or add to the mobile phone places to go the day after Thanksgiving. One event is only Friday. The others start that day but go for a few weeks to just over a month.

 Wreathing of the Lions

Be at the Art Institute of Chicago at 9 a.m. Nov. 25, 2022 to celebrate when the museum’s two famed lions are adorned with their holiday wreaths. The event is at the 111 S. Michigan Ave. entrance 

 Millennium Park Sing Along

Join groups and visitors at Cloud Gate (The Bean) on Fridays from Nov. 25 through Dec. 16, 2022 to celebrate holiday and other songs from 6 to 7 p.m. supported by the Millennium Park and Pritzker Foundations.

 Group dates include the Oakdale Christian Academy Choir on Nov. 25, Chicago High School for the Arts Chorale Ensemble,   Dec. 2, Windy City Gay Chorus and Treble Quire, Dec. 9  and BYNC Music Project, Dec. 16. For more information visit DCASE. Millennium Park is on the east side of Michigan Avenue between Monroe and Randolph Streets.

Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier

An indoor lights festival that includes a winter wonderland forest, Santa, animated lights display and skating rink, Light Up the Lake runs Nov. 25, 2022 through Jan. 7, 2023. Tickets are $15. For tickets and more information visit   Light up the Lake. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave.

Jodie Jacobs

Holiday Festivals Around Town

Chicago Botanic Garden celebrates the season with Lightscape. (J Jacobs photo)
Chicago Botanic Garden celebrates the season with Lightscape. (J Jacobs photo)


Around town Holiday festivals

Plan now because it seems everything from tree lightings and light festivals are starting early this year.

Remember when we used to think the holiday season began with Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade early on “Turkey Day?” Then the Mag Mile pre-empted that with Mickey and Minnie Mouse turning on Michigan Avenue’s lights north of the Chicago River, accompanied by Santa. Meanwhile, Macy’s was following Marshal Field’s tradition of a Great Tree, lunch in the Walnut Room and wonderful holiday windows.

Chicago area’s two big zoos soon added to the holiday places-to-visit calendar with lights and animation. More recently gardens and nature walks such as the Morton Arboretum and Chicago Botanic Garden, got into the holiday spirit with color, lights and movement. Germany said, why not, so entered Chicago’s holiday season with the Christkindle Market.

 Macy’s liked Marshal Field’s tradition so continue the Great Tree, lunch in the Walnut Room and wonderful, story-telling holiday windows.

Keeping track of what is around, when and where in the Chicago area can be challenging even when suburban and neighborhood residents mark their calendars with local tree lightings and events.  So here is a short guide to the main holiday happenings.

Macy's holiday windows in Chicago (Photo courtesy of Macy's)
Macy’s holiday windows in Chicago (Photo courtesy of Macy’s)

 Already started early November

Macy’s came out with their Great Tree Lighting, Santa visits, Walnut Room availability and windows theme the first week of November.

What to know: The Great Tree is 45 feet tall and is decorated on a toy-shop theme and is up through Jan. 8 2023. Santa Claus photo ops and wish whispers have to be reserved in advance. Santa is in his toy workshop on the Fifth Floor and reservations to visit him go through Dec. 24, 2022. The windows are already decorated and good for photos through Jan. 1, 2022.  For reservations and more information  visit Macy’s Holiday Celebrations: Visit Santa & More – 2022 (macys.com)

 Macy’s is at 111 N State St., Chicago.

Second week in November

The switch went on and the last installation was done when Lightscape opened to Friends and Family at the Chicago Botanic Garden Nov. 9. Opened to the public (advance tickets needed) Nov. 11, Lightscape casts a fantasy vision over paths, trees, ponds and plantings with lights and music. It continues through Jan. 8, 2023. For tickets and more information visit Chicago Botanic/Lightscape

Christkindl Market downtown Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)
Christkindl Market downtown Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)

Third week and weekend in November

This is a very busy time for holiday events ranging from the city’s tree lighting and a European holiday market to zoo lights and lit paths at an arboretum.

Go downtown for Chicago’s tree lighting Nov. 18 in Millenium Park. It’s scheduled for 6 p.m. with a pre-program at 5 p.m. The action is near Cloud Gate on the Grainger Stage. Visitors should enter at the South Promenade on Monroe Street east of Michigan Avenue. Don’t expect the lighting to happen until 6:30 but stay because fireworks follow the ceremony. For more information visit City of Chicago :: City of Chicago Christmas Tree 

The German village-style Christkindl Market opens Nov. 18 a few blocks west of Millennium Park on Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. A fun place to find gifts or take a yummy break from work or shopping, the Market is up through Dec. 24. For Chicago information visit Christkindlmarket | Holiday Market 2022 | Chicago

This German market is also happening in Wrigleyville at 3635 N. Clark Street at Gallager Way so visit German Christmas in Wrigleyville | Christkindlmarket and in Aurora in River Edge Park, 360 N. Broadway so visit  German Christmas in Aurora | Christkindlmarket.


Lincoln P:ark Zoolights(Photo by Jodie Jacobs)
Lincoln Park Zoolights (Photo by Jodie Jacobs)

Lincoln Park Zoo spreads out just west of Lake Michigan between downtown Chicago and Wrigleyville so visitors sometimes try to couple its Zoolights with another holiday goodie.  Presented by Com Ed with Invesco QQQ,, Zoolights is an impressive display at the city’s free zoo and costs only $5 a ticket for this holiday event. Zoo lights is Nov. 19, 2022 through Jan. 1, 2023. For hours, dates and more information visit ZooLights.

Also opening Jan 19 is the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination. Running through Jan. y7, 2023, Illumination transforms a mile long path among trees, meadow and gardens into a fairytale land of light, sound and color. The event combines old favorites such as the Enchanted Forest and Treeimagination, with new installations such as Late Nite Electric Illumination, tall, mirrored towers and a finale in the new Grand Garden. For more information visit Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum | The Morton Arboretum

Wait, as the commercials say: There’s more.

Last but not at all least this week is the Magnificent (Mag) Mile Lights Festival’s parade and day of activities starting at 11 a.m. at 401 N. Michigan Ave. Sponsored by Wintrust, the parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Mickey and Minnie Mouse (from the Walt Disney World Resort) lead the parade as they magically turn on one million lights along North Michigan Avenue.

What to expect: floats, helium balloons, marching bands, musical performances, Santa Claus ending with fireworks at the Chicago River. The event will also stream on Nov. 20 on ABC. For more information visit MagMileLights.


A giant helium baloon floats over State Street during a Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. (J Jacobs photo)

A giant helium balloon floats over State Street during a Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. (J Jacobs photo)

Fourth week and weekend in November

Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade brings the sounds of cymbals, blares of trumpets and the sight of giant helium balloons and beautiful floats to State Street, that main street, Nov. 24.

The parade goes from Ida B Wells Drive at the south end to Randolph on the north. Figure that bands and entertainment from some of Chicago’s theaters could start as early as 8 a.m. and go to 11 a.m. For more information visit Chicago Thanksgiving Parade.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo starts Nov. 25 and continues on specific dates through Dec. 31 from 3 to 9 p.m. Presented by ComEd and Meijer, the zoo is a blaze with two miles of lights and colors moving to synchronized music. A new feature is a 600-foot “Tunnel of Lights” by Xfinity.

For parking, entrance and other information visit CZS.org/HolidayMagic.

Have fun

Jodie Jacobs




A light and movement adventure

star tunnel at Lightscape (J Jacobs photo)
star tunnel at Lightscape (J Jacobs photo)

Fire, color, shapes, snowflake and kaleidoscope patterns, water features, movement, and yes, past years’ popular gold-lit Cathedral, all make Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden, a fun and fanciful, winter night out.  

The color-filled light spectacle starts with a large, welcoming, holiday wreath near the east end of the Botanic Garden’s ticket booths. That is the first clue that the 2022 Lightscape follows a different path with some installation changes and additions to previous years.

Hopefully you have worn good walking shoes or boots. Temperatures have dipped into late November-December mode and the Lightscape path feels longer than its approximate mile and a quarter because its first half is mostly uphill.

A garden of fire at CBG Lightscape ( J Jacobs photo)
A garden of fire at CBG Lightscape ( J Jacobs photo)

What to expect

Smart-phone cameras ready, look for a garden of fire set in Oriental style fixtures in the Rose Garden.

As you continue along the path, snap floating leaves in the lagoon near the Japanese bridges and colorful hula-style rings overhead.

Stop for a snack at an outdoor shack while checking out a color-changing mist.

Look up for Kaleidoscope at Regenstein Center (J Jacobs photo)
Look up for Kaleidoscope at Regenstein Center (J Jacobs photo)

As the commercials say, Wait, there’s more. After lots of turns, curves water-markers and color-lit trees, you arrive at the Kaleidoscope overhang of the Regenstein’s Center. There you can cross a terrace of beautifully colored globes and end up at Nichols Hall, the indoor food area.

Back out after a calorie break, follow the “continue” path where you pass colorful flowers, walk through a tunnel of stars.

 You’ll see the golden Cathedral ahead and snap companions walking through it. But next clue things have changed is you learn you are not at the end. Guides with flashlights urge you on because there’s more to see ahead.

Lights sticks glow on path to the great ball of light that you enter to exit. (J Jacobs photo)
Lights sticks glow on path to the great ball of light that you enter to exit. (J Jacobs photo)

Pass the changing lights growing in a pasture between the Regenstein Center and the Pond. Follow more flashlights and paths until you’re confronted by dramatic music and a huge ball of lights. You look around and realize you have to enter it to exit.

Now, you are at the lily pond area where stairs and a ramp lead down to a path to the Visitors Center and parking lot.

Tip: Check your Smart Phone because after all those photos it probably needs recharging.  

Details: Lightscape goes from Nov. 11, 2022 through Jan. 8, 2023, after 4 p.m. Lightscape entry and parking are timed tickets. Members $30, non $32. Children of members $14, non $16. Under age 2 free. Lightscape parking free to members, $10 nonmembers. 

For more info visit Lightscape

Jodie Jacobs

Botanic Garden and Shedd plus Brookfield Zoo news


Art of Fiber at Chicago Botanic Garden. (J Jacobs photo)
Art of Fiber at Chicago Botanic Garden. (J Jacobs photo)

Not all colors are outdoors at the Chicago Botanic Garden. While CBG is getting ready outdoors for its soon to be sold out holiday Lightscape, the Fine Art of Fiber has taken over the inside of the Regenstein Center. 

Chicago Theater and Arts stopped for a sneak preview while it was setting up. Its impressive.

Extraordinary quilts, wall hangings and wearable fiber art such as shawls and jewelry, can be seen and items bought at the Art of Fiber show but it only goes Nov. 4-6, 2022. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more info visit Chicago Botanic Garden


Sea otters Suri (l) and Willow (r) have names now instead of numbers at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of Shedd)
Sea otters Suri (l) and Willow (r) have names now instead of numbers at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of Shedd)

Shedd Aquarium

Penguins aren’t the only cute, playful animals capturing attention at the Shedd.

Its two new otters now have names. The Shedd’s Animal Care Team has named Otter 926 as Suri for California’s Big Sur coast line between Carmel and San Simeon.

The other otter, known as 929 won the public vote name of Willow. For other otter news visit Shedd Aquarium and Sea Otter | Shedd Aquarium


Spree, a 20-year-old bottlenose dolphin, during a feeding session with Andy Ferris, a senior animal care specialist from Brookfield Zoo.(P:hoto courtesy of Brookfield Zoo)
Spree, a 20-year-old bottlenose dolphin, during a feeding session with Andy Ferris, a senior animal care specialist from Brookfield Zoo.(P:hoto courtesy of Brookfield Zoo)

Brookfield Zoo

Go to Brookfield Zoo operated by the Chicago Zoological Society in suburban Brookfield, IL for lots of animal sightings, but not for its seven bottlenose dolphins.

Beginning early November, the dolphins (along with their support staff) have taken up residence at the Minnesota Zoo for about seven months while Brookfield’s Seven Seas area is undergoing renovations.

Among the renovations is installation of a lift platform to allow quick adjustment to water depth, a new roof and a climate-controlled purifying system.

For more Brookfield Zoo info visit Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield.

Jodie Jacobs

Jeff Equity awards announced

Drury Lane, Oakbrook, hosted the Jeff Equity Awards ceremony and announcement for 2022. (Drury Lane photo)
Drury Lane, Oakbrook, hosted the Jeff Equity Awards ceremony and announcement for 2022. (Drury Lane photo)

The 54th Jeff Equity awards ceremony, hosted by Chicagoan E. Faye Butler and directed by Jim Corti with music direction by David Fiorello, announced 46 winners in artistic and technical categories at Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook, Oct. 17, 2022.

The evening was a celebration of in person theater after going dark following the 2019 COVID outbreak. This year, the ceremony featured several nominated productions.

Paramount Theatre walked off with six awards in various categories for its production of “Kinky Boots” and Goodman Theatre earned five awards for “Good Night, Oscar” plus an award for “Gem of the Ocean.”

Red Orchid Theatre took home five awards for “the Moors” and Porchlight Music Theatre received four awards for “Blues in the Night.”

“Short Run Productions” was added this year as a new category to acknowledge the value of shorter productions and also recognize theaters returning to in-person shows following COVID pandemic closures.

For more award listings go to Jeff Equity Awards.  

For acceptance speeches and special moments check the Jeff Awards YouTube channel.

Jodie Jacobs

Three Fun Pumpkin Patches and Mazes

Maze at Krill's Farm (J Jacobs photo
Maze at Krill’s Farm (J Jacobs photo

It’s only midway through fall and October which means it is not too late to take a family field trip out into the countryside to find the perfect pumpkin or explore a corn maze or take a hayride. The following three farms offer a variety of activities and a maze of possibilities for all ages.

Kroll’s Fall Harvest Farm at the far northwestern (the boonies) part of Waukegan must have a local following because it is out of sight, off the main road but reasonably busy.   

After finding Kroll’s with our GPS, we refueled on yummy pumpkin donuts then explored the farm.  Youngsters were having fun feeding the hens and llamas while young adults and couples were taking photos of each other behind cutouts of funny figures. 

Feeding the llamas and hens are part of the Kroll Farm experience.
Feeding the llamas and hens are part of the Kroll Farm experience.

Their next stop was the bench where everyone waited for hayride before wandering through the maze and then going over to the pumpkin patch for the right size large one to carve or small pumpkins to easily carry away.

Kroll’s is a good, low-keyed farm experience. For hours, pricing and more info visit Kroll’s Fall Harvest Farm,  13236 W. Townline Rd. Waukegan, IL (847) 662-5733.


All Seasons pumpkin Patch ( Photo courtesy of All Seasons Orchard)
All Seasons pumpkin Patch (Photo courtesy of All Seasons Orchard)

All Seasons, a good apple-picking place in Woodstock, turns to fall with fun activities for different ages.

It has a good-size corn maze of 10 acres with two paths – short and easy and long and harder. There is also a good pumpkin patch, pony rides and excellent apple cider donuts to eat on the way home.

All Seasons Orchard is at 14510 IL Route 176 Woodstock, IL, (815) 338-5637 For hours, pricing and more information visit All Seasons Orchard.


James Bond Corn Maze at Richardson Farm in Spring Grove. (Photo courtesy of Richardson Farm)
James Bond Corn Maze at Richardson Farm in Spring Grove. (Photo courtesy of Richardson Farm)

Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, has different experiences for different ages in the fall. It turns 28 acres of corn into a large sprawling maze of 9-10 miles of trails.

They are divided into four mazes to cater to different ages and difficulty. The maze is always interestingly themed. This year, 2022, it has a James Bond spy theme.

Among the other activities are wagon rides, zip lining and a picnic food and area. 

Ricardson Farm is at 909 English Prairie Rd., Spring Grove, 815) 675-9729. Foe pricing, hours and more information visit Richardson Farm

Jodie Jacobs



Extraordinary Brightness

Brightness of Light at Los Angeles June . 18, 2022 (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)
Brightness of Light at Los Angeles Opera June . 18, 2022
(Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)

4 Stars

Lyric Opera goers may not have known what to expect when taking their seats Oct. 8, 2022, for “The Brightness of Light,” a hybrid one-act opera-song cycle by composer Kevin Puts.  But it featured popular lyric soprano Renée Fleming and versatile baritone Rod Gilfry, so the house was filled.

It was an extraordinary experience. 

For scenery, the program used the gorgeous artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe, the sensuous photography of Alfred Stieglitz and the dramatic letters they wrote to each other compiled in a projection format designed by Wendall Harrigton.

Puts turned to those letters for his libretto. However, it took the still remarkable Fleming voice and artistry and well-matched baritone of Gilfry to pull off Puts’ intense, challenging music.

“The Brightness of Light,” with Fleming and Gilfry was the Chicago premiere. It is worth seeing and hearing again. Unfortunately, this was a one-time program that has been travelling for a few years. It ended the LA Opera season in June.

Some members of the audience left at intermission to catch trains. Those who stayed were entertained by a charming selection of nine Broadway songs ranging from “Almost Like being in Love” (Brigadoon) to “People Will Say We’re in Love” (Oklahoma).

The entire program featured the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Lyric Music Director Enrique Mazzola which is always a treat.

As to how this all started, Puts explained the following in a note:

“In 2015, I received the honor of a commission from my alma mater, the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. The school’s orchestra was planning a trip to perform at Lincoln Center and wanted to include a new work written by an alumni composer to feature an alumni performer. The performer they had in mind was Renée Fleming and—to my great excitement—she accepted the offer, thereby initiating one of the most treasured collaborations of my career.

We wanted to focus on an iconic American woman as the subject, and I happened on a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe: “My first memory is of the brightness of light, light all around.”

For more information visit The Brightness of Light | Lyric Opera of Chicago

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago


Jodie Jacobs