Having been at the opera for not one, not two, but three nights last week, I felt entitled to some mental and emotional downtime. I am proud to report that the new Will Ferrell/Jon Heder figure-skating romp Blades of Glory is just as funny and over-the-top and worth seeing as the news that it brought in $33 million last weekend implies. Jenna Fischer almost steals the show, as expected from her acting on The Office.
I attended the dress rehearsal and opening night of Chicago Opera Theater's new production of Monteverdi's Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria last week, with a long review to follow later this week, as well as Lyric Opera's Rising Stars in Concert concert Friday night, featuring members of the Ryan Opera Center. This year's stable of talent, which has produced soprano Erin Wall and the fast-rising baritone Quinn Kelsey, causes one's jaw to drop repeatedly. Soprano Susanna Phillips delivered a breathtaking Mad Scene from Lucia di Lammermoor, with ringing top notes and a sumptuous everything else, and a smart take on the duet "Fra gli amplesso" from Cosi with tenor Scott Ramsey. Bass-baritone Darren Stokes delicously layed his robust voice on Mephistopheles' "Le veau d'or" from Gounod's Faust. He looked rather devilish in his make-up, as well. He was busy shuttling between Lyric Opera and the Harris Theater, where he was playing Neptune in Il ritorno. Good on ya. Andrew Patner has the complete play-by-play here.
This week is a bit on the slow side, with either Gustavo Dudamel's much-anticipated Chicago Symphony debut or the opening of Opera Cabal's film and music Collisions festival and works by Michael Finnissy, Kirsten Broberg, Sciarrino and others on the schedule.
Acrobats: Music of David Leisner Cavatina Duo (Cedille) Serenely elegant flute and guitar duo.
Quartets and Sextets Tchaikovsky, Ying Quartet (Telarc)
Haydn: Sonatas for Piano Fazil Say (naive) Who doesn't love Fazil Say?
Album Maria Bayo, soprano Handel, Mozart, Granados, more (naive)
Mahler: Symphony No. 9 Staatskapelle Berlin; Daniel Barenboim, conductor (Warner Classics)
Mahler: Symphony No. 1 Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich; David Zinman, conductor (with Blumine movement) (RCA)