Jamie Barton: Opera Must “embrace the move towards feminine power”

WFMT talks with the outspoken mezzo-soprano about what it means to take on the role of Carmen, why she’s excited to open the COT season, and how modern-day audiences and artists can best confront the more outdated aspects of Carmen and other beloved operas.

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Ana María Martínez: “Czech Was the Hardest”

Ana María Martínez is a seasoned performer on the stage of Chicago’s Civic Opera House. In the last year, she’s sung Mimì, Desdemona, and opens as Rusalka on Saturday. What is less dazzling, less conspicuous, has been her role as a role model to Chicago’s youth. The Puerto Rican-American soprano (who is fluent in Italian, English, and Spanish) frequently volunteers as a ...

Beethoven’s Smile: Yes, He Had One

“After the final chord, I looked up. The Master’s darkly glowing gaze was fixed upon me penetratingly. Yet suddenly a benevolent smile broke up his gloomy features, Beethoven became quite close, bent over me, laid his hand on my head and repeatedly stroked my hair. ‘Devil of a fellow’ he whispered, ‘such a young rascal!’ I suddenly plucked up courage. ...

Composer Exploration: Jacques Ibert

Jacques Ibert was born in Paris in 1890; his father was a businessman; his mother was a pianist. She began teaching him piano and violin at age 4. When young Jacques finished grade school, he found a job in a movie house, playing piano for silent films. In 1910 he enrolled at the Paris Conservatory, joining Arthur Honegger and Darius ...

Art and Music: Mendelssohn’s Watercolors

Felix Mendelssohn was a beacon in his world, whether as a conductor, composer, scholar, or painter. As a painter, he wallowed in images of man in dialogue with nature: landscapes with buildings or people under trees. The image to the right is of an unknown subject, but brings to mind the mysterious, churning sounds of his Hebrides Overture, and offers ...

10 Pieces That Changed the World

As our sister station, WTTW launches 10 Buildings that Changed America, we at WFMT thought perhaps it was time for some reflection on the art of music composition. WFMT’s 10 Pieces That Changed the World offers a full day of musical giants, pieces of music that turned the art form into something it hadn’t seen. It is important to say ...

Beyond ‘Tristan’

One of the more innovative efforts of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in recent years has been the concert series Beyond the Score. It’s an opportunity to peel the curtain back on a composition, on a composer’s mindset, and on their interaction with orchestral instruments. Each show combines musical excerpts, narration, and visuals to examine a single piece of music. After intermission, ...

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