CSO, Lyric seasons under way

Updated 10/6/2011 4:55 PM

The 2011-12 seasons are now underway for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and there's still plenty of opportunity to purchase tickets for what should be many memorable performances at Orchestra Hall and the Civic Opera House.

Fresh from a critically acclaimed European concert tour celebrating the opening of Riccardo Muti's second season as music director, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is back home at Symphony Center/Orchestra Hall. This weekend's concerts wrap up Muti's fall residency, the program titled "An Exuberant Era: 1911-1912." This is the first of several CSO concerts this season marking the centennial of composer-conductor Gustav Mahler's death in 1911.


This program (1:30 p.m. Friday and 8:30 p.m. Saturday) replicates Mahler's final concert of Feb. 21, 1911, in which (against doctors' advice and with a 104-degree fever) he conducted the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. Shortly thereafter, the ailing 50-year-old maestro returned to Europe and died three months later in Vienna from heart failure. Mahler's Italian-themed program included Felix Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony (No. 4 in A Major) and three obscure works by living composers: Giuseppe Martucci's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Minor (this weekend's soloist is Gerhard Oppitz); Ferruccio Busoni's "Berceuse elegaique," Leone Sinigalia's overture to "Le baruffe chiozzotte" and Renzo Bossi's "Intermezzi Goldoniani." The Busoni work was a world premiere, and the composer was in the hall, sharing a box with conductor Arturo Toscanini.

Muti will return for subscription concerts Jan. 26-March 17 and for his spring residency to close the season June 14-24. Major works he is scheduled to conduct include Carl Orff's secular cantata "Carmina Burana" Jan. 26-28 and 31; Luigi Cherubini's Requiem Mass (May 15-17) and Anton Bruckner's Sixth Symphony (June 23-24).

CSO tickets vary in price by date and seat location. Phone (312) 294-3000 or visit cso.org for a schedule or to order online.

Following last weekend's opening night of Jacques Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann," the curtain is ready to go up for Lyric Opera's second of eight operas this season, "Lucia di Lammermoor" by Gaetano Donizetti. "Lucia" will have its first of eight performances at 7:30 p.m. Monday, with additional evening dates Oct. 19, 22, 28, and Nov. 1 and 5. Matinees (2 p.m.) are Oct. 13 and 16.

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Based on the novel by Sir Walter Scott, "Lucia di Lammermoor" is perhaps the most popular work performed today written in the Italian bel canto style. The Lyric's production will feature the title role of Lucia sung by soprano Susanna Phillips. Her brother Enrico will be portrayed by baritones Brian Mulligan and Quinn Kelsey, with Edgardo of Ravenswood played by tenor Giuseppe Filianoti.

Conductor Massimo Zanetti will be making his Lyric Opera debut, with longtime Lyric leading soprano Catherine Malfitano making her debut here in the new role of stage director. Monday's opening-night performance will be offered live by WFMT 98.7-FM as part of the Matthew Bucksbaum Family Lyric Opera Broadcasts.

"The Tales of Hoffmann" will run through Oct. 29. Other operas this season are Modest Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" (opening Nov. 7), Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos" (opening Nov. 19), Mozart's "the Magic Flute (opening Dec. 4), Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida" (opening Jan. 21), Jerome Kern's "Show Boat" (opening Feb. 12) and Handel's "Rinaldo" (opening Feb. 29).

For ticket information, phone (312) 332-2244, ext. 5600, or visit lyricopera.org.

CSO brass takes spotlight: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's world-renowned brass section is featured on "Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Live," the latest release by the Orchestra's award-winning record label, CSO Resound. Works by Gabrieli, Bach, Grainger, Prokofiev, Walton and Revueltas are showcased on this recording, which is available in hybrid SACD, standard CD and digital download formats. The album was released on Sept. 26, and the download was made available this week through various digital music services. The physical CD or SACD can be purchased at cso.org or other major online retailers.

"Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Live" -- the 13th release on the CSO Resound label -- was recorded during the CSO Brass' subscription concerts on December 16-18, 2010, at Symphony Center/Orchestra Hall. Four members of the CSO brass section (Dale Clevenger, principal horn; Jay Friedman, principal trombone; Michael Mulcahy, trombone; Mark Ridenour, assistant principal trumpet) conduct on the recording, which also includes the CSO's percussion section, along with guest musicians.

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