Top Story »

Role Playing: Lindsey Gavel’s distressed Masha, in ‘Three Sisters,’ began with a touch of cheer

Role Playing: Lindsey Gavel’s distressed Masha, in ‘Three Sisters,’ began with a touch of cheer

May 21, 2015 – 7:01 am | No Comment | 205 views

Interview: Lindsey Gavel knew, heading into her performance as Chekhov’s unhappily married Masha in “Three Sisters” with The Hypocrites, that sorrow-on-sleeve was not the way she wanted to go with it. She decided instead to put a happy face on Masha’s heavy heart – and created a nuanced portrait of a woman caught between her longing for real love and the empty reality of her life.

Read the full story »
Latest Reviews + News
Classical + Opera
Theater + Stage
New + Introducing
Digital + Disc

Chicago Wine Journal »

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Burgundy-style Pinot Noir from an Oregon star

May 27, 2015 – 3:35 pm | No Comment | 70 views

By Lawrence B. Johnson

Since its founding in 1989, Domaine Serene in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has emerged as one of the top producers of Pinot Noir in a region famous for that wine. In a horizontal tasting with friends of four different Domaine Serene bottlings from the 2011 vintage, it became readily apparent why this house continues to enjoy such high esteem.

????????????????????????Domaine Serene, named for the daughter of owners Ken and Grace Evenstad, sprang to life when the Evenstads purchased 42 recently logged acres atop the Dundee Hills in Yamhill County, Willamette Valley. The couple produced their first Pinot Noir the next year, and the accolades were immediate. The enterprise has traced an upward trajectory ever since.

From the start, Domaine Serene has fashioned its Pinot Noir on the Burgundian model of elegant, medium-bodied wine with a deep core of concentrated flavors. (The couple recently purchased Château de la Crée in Burgundy’s heartland, the Côte d’Or, including vineyards in several famous appellations.) The four Serene wines I just tasted, from the Willamette Valley, reflected Domaine Serene’s broad mix of single-vineyard and blended Pinot Noirs. It was a rewarding exploration.  Read the full story »

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: A new Spanish horizon for old-vine Garnacha

May 23, 2015 – 12:11 am | No Comment | 253 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  A new Spanish horizon for old-vine Garnacha

Tasting Report: With the dramatic emergence of Spanish wines in recent years, Grenache has gained familiarity in its Spanish robes as Garnacha – which might lead one to assume that the “two” grapes are one and the same. Indeed they are, and yet there’s a world of difference between them. That became clear during a Chicago seminar last week presented by Spanish producers of Garnacha from Cariñena, a small appellation long overshadowed by the likes of Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

CSO’s ‘French Reveries and Passions’: Spirit and imagination set crown on a dream festival

May 19, 2015 – 2:27 pm | No Comment | 525 views
CSO’s ‘French Reveries and Passions’: Spirit and imagination set crown on a dream festival

Festival Review: It’s that time of the year when orchestras change their pace, kick back a bit and come a-bloom with new ideas in the spirit of the warming clime. Thus the New York Philharmonic celebrates its 50th season of Concerts in the Parks, the Cincinnati Symphony’s May Festival gets underway, the Boston Symphony is deep into its Pops concerts. But the place to be this season is in the Windy City, where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is midway through an extravagant multidimensional festival “French Reveries & Passions.”

‘Side Man’ at American Blues Theater: Honey pours from a trumpet, bile from a bitter wife

May 18, 2015 – 10:36 pm | No Comment | 335 views
‘Side Man’ at American Blues Theater: Honey pours from a trumpet, bile from a bitter wife

Review: Everything that is so remarkable, so rich and treasurable, about Chicago’s far-flung storefront theater scene is embodied in American Blues Theater’s resonant and poignant production of Warren Leight’s “Side Man.” Eloquently directed by Jonathan Berry, this model of tight, smart ensemble acting is well worth adjusting the calendar to catch, but it runs only until May 24 and will not be extended. ★★★★★

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: The pleasures (and alluring price) of Chablis

May 18, 2015 – 10:35 pm | No Comment | 205 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  The pleasures (and alluring price) of Chablis

Tasting Report: Somewhat to the northwest of the heart of what we think of as Burgundy – that is, the glorious Côte-d’Or with its world-famous Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — lies the appellation of Chablis. Technically, Chablis is part of Burgundy, though it’s more like an island. Or perhaps an unfavored stepchild. But for wine lovers, especially devotees of Chardonnay, Chablis is a discovery-in-waiting.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: It’s Chicago-sur-Rhône at Robert Parker soirée

May 15, 2015 – 11:43 am | No Comment | 408 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: It’s Chicago-sur-Rhône at Robert Parker soirée

Mulling Wine: Wines of the Rhône Valley in southeastern France – and others modeled after them from sundry parts of the world – will be spotlighted, explained and, not least, savored in a series of “master” tastings followed by dinner May 23 at Chicago’s Park Hyatt Hotel. The public event is being presented by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Versatile ‘Jersey Boys’ actress knows Chicago, and some crazy quick-change parts in musical

May 14, 2015 – 3:47 pm | No Comment | 283 views
Versatile ‘Jersey Boys’ actress knows Chicago, and some crazy quick-change parts in musical

Interview: New Orleans native Leslie Rochette, who plays – among a lightning paced scramble of other roles – Frankie Valli’s daughter Francine in the tour production of “Jersey Boys” currently at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, seems to have found a second home in Chicago. Knowing the richness of Chicago’s theater scene, Rochette made a bee-line for Columbia College to study theater, graduating in 2008. When the first national tour of “Jersey Boys” hit Chicago in 2012, Rochette was in the ensemble, and now she’s back as one of three women in the cast who all fill multiple parts.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Grgich revisits crowning of Chardonnay king

May 12, 2015 – 2:02 pm | One Comment | 520 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Grgich revisits crowning of Chardonnay king

Mulling Wine: In an epochal Chicago event 35 years ago, Miljenko Grgich’s 1977 Napa Valley Chardonnay, the first he’d produced under his own name, beat out 220 other Chardonnays from all points on the compass (yes, including France) in the largest single-varietal blind tasting ever held up to that time. Last week, Grgich’s daughter Violet and other representatives of Grigich Hills Estate returned to Chicago for a small commemorative tasting of their library Chardonnays and three from the 2012 vintage.

Piano wizardry rules as Chinese star Lang Lang mixes Chopin, calendar’s worth of Tchaikovsky

May 11, 2015 – 11:56 am | No Comment | 273 views
Piano wizardry rules as Chinese star Lang Lang  mixes Chopin, calendar’s worth of Tchaikovsky

Review: Pianist Lang Lang’s recital May 9 at the Civic Opera House was, at its best, a display of brilliance of a high order. Taken end to end, it was also a curious affair. To say this lionized, still infectiously youthful Chinese pianist – he turns 33 on June 14 — is a technical wizard may be understatement. Lang Lang is one demonic virtuoso for whom the most daunting technical demands seem more like expressive opportunities than hazards of execution.

Ravel opera rarity (an armchair sings) injects pure fantasy, great fun into CSO French fest

May 9, 2015 – 3:34 pm | No Comment | 316 views
Ravel opera rarity (an armchair sings) injects pure fantasy, great fun into CSO French fest

Review: It isn’t every Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert that ends with the conductor leading a gaggle of children across the stage like the pied piper. But there he was, Esa-Pekka Salonen, smiling ear to ear, a little child’s hand in his, marching the Anima-Young Singers of Greater Chicago into view for their ovation after a deliciously witty performance of Ravel’s one-act opera “L’enfant et les sortilèges,” an evident if unexpected hit at the CSO’s “French Reveries and Passions” festival.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Like a parade of tall ships, Antinori fleet sails in

May 7, 2015 – 10:25 pm | No Comment | 225 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  Like a parade of tall ships, Antinori fleet sails in

Tasting Report: For a wine buff, it was an evening of almost silly delight: A tasting of wine after great wine from the astonishing portfolio of Italian producer Marchesi Antinori, an array that extended from Brunello di Montalcino to Super Tuscans the likes of Guado al Tasso, Tignanello and Solaia.

Musical accent unmistakable, French pianist Tiberghien gives CSO fest pitch-perfect start

May 4, 2015 – 3:03 pm | One Comment | 484 views
Musical accent unmistakable, French pianist Tiberghien gives CSO fest pitch-perfect start

Review: The French pianist Cédric Tiberghien turns 40 years old on May 5, but it was he passing out the presents May 3 at Orchestra Hall. His recital, devoted largely to Ravel and Debussy as the official opening event of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s three-week festival titled “French Reveries & Passions,” was a veritable shower of musical gifts from a pianist making his Chicago debut and, incredibly enough, still just barely known in the U.S.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: In Ferrari-Carano’s Trésor, a Bordeaux accent

May 2, 2015 – 3:23 pm | No Comment | 276 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: In Ferrari-Carano’s Trésor, a Bordeaux accent

Tasting Report: Among the treasures of my wine cellar are several vintages of Ferarri-Carano’s Bordeaux-style blend called, fittingly enough, Trésor. More than merely Bordeaux-styled in concept, the 2010 Trésor’s combination of layered fruit, ripe tannins and crisp acidity lends it the native character of its classic model.

Famous trouser roles folded away, opera star von Stade channels a queen of Egypt (Texas)

April 26, 2015 – 10:41 pm | No Comment | 649 views
Famous trouser roles folded away, opera star von Stade channels a queen of Egypt (Texas)

Interview: Frederica von Stade broke through to opera fame in the ’70s for her boyish roles that showcased a slim physique and impish wit. Now composers and directors seek her out for a new genre — dames and dowagers such as Myrtle Bledsoe in Ricky Ian Gordon’s “A Coffin in Egypt,” now onstage at Chicago Opera Theater.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: A Chardonnay toast to the ‘secret’ of DuMOL

April 26, 2015 – 10:07 pm | No Comment | 278 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: A Chardonnay toast to the ‘secret’ of DuMOL

Tasting Report: Chardonnay lovers, as well as those who insist they’d rather drink anything but, take note of the name DuMOL. I have just tasted a trio of this 20-year-old Sonoma County winery’s 2012 Chardonnays, and I am star-struck.

‘American Clock’ at Redtwist: There are songs but the key is bitter irony in this Depression tale

April 25, 2015 – 11:37 am | No Comment | 468 views
‘American Clock’ at Redtwist: There are songs but the key is bitter irony in this Depression tale

Review: Arthur Miller’s plays consistently center on the vicissitudes of ordinary folks, with economic plight as a common theme. What might this avowed life-long liberal, who died in 2005, have written about America today? Actually, a plausible answer is before us, in Redtwist Theatre’s gritty, chilling production of Miller’s “The American Clock,” a cautionary retelling of the saga of the Great Depression. ★★★★

New York Aisle: ‘An American in Paris’ bounds to B’way stage with balletic flair. S’Marvelous

April 23, 2015 – 3:37 pm | No Comment | 615 views
New York Aisle: ‘An American in Paris’ bounds to B’way stage with balletic flair. S’Marvelous

Review: There’s a new triple threat on Broadway. He can sing, he dances extraordinarily, and his acting isn’t bad either. Robert Fairchild, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, is currently making his Broadway debut in “An American in Paris,” the stage version of the 1951 movie musical that starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Along with a constant twinkle in his eye, Fairchild possesses and a sense of bonhomie that just won’t quit, ★★★★

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Five Brunello snapshots from Poggio Antico

April 23, 2015 – 8:45 am | No Comment | 594 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Five Brunello snapshots from Poggio Antico

Tasting Report: With a group of friends, I recently ventured through five vintages of Brunello di Montalcino from Poggio Antico, an excellent producer of this patrician wine from central Tuscany. The results were intriguing. Younger wines sometimes proved more readily drinkable than older ones, and comparative qualities changed – radically in some instances — as the wines aerated after pouring.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: To sip, to explore, perchance slowly to collect

April 23, 2015 – 8:30 am | No Comment | 327 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  To sip, to explore, perchance slowly to collect

Mulling Wine: For many years, and by now many years ago, I wrote for various national publications about consumer electronics – sound systems, televisions. The advent of larger-screen televisions came to mind as I was pondering a column on venturing into – and inevitably collecting – wine.

Role Playing: Hollis Resnik felt personal bond with zealous, skeptical scholar in ‘Good Book’

April 16, 2015 – 4:26 pm | No Comment | 485 views
Role Playing: Hollis Resnik felt personal bond  with zealous, skeptical scholar in ‘Good Book’

Interview: As a veteran actress, Hollis Resnik feels a deep connection with Miriam, the biblical scholar she plays in “The Good Book” at Court Theatre. That commonality, says Resnik, is passion.

Bernard Haitink, venerable master of Mahler, reveled in wonders of Seventh Symphony with CSO

April 16, 2015 – 10:54 am | No Comment | 429 views
Bernard Haitink, venerable master of Mahler,  reveled in wonders of Seventh Symphony with CSO

Review: Not only with respect to age is Bernard Haitink, at 86, the eminence grise among Mahler conductors today. His association with Mahler’s symphonies is as close and authoritative as it is long. That profound perspective was again evident on April 9 when Haitink led a poetic excursion through the Seventh Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.