June 2007 Archives

Verdi Requiem at Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra held its performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Messa da Requiem, known also as simply "Verdi's Requiem". It is a full orchestral piece first performed in 1874 as a Roman Catholic funeral mass on the anniversary of the Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni, a favorite of Verdi's.

I confess I don't frequent the Symphony Orchestra but was familiar with the Requiem to make an evening of it. To say that I sat in the "nosebleed section" would be an significant understatement, as I was so high up the musicians looked like ants on a croissant. The aisle stairway was also amazingly steep, ensuring that one small misstep would result in your bloodied, operatic demise 100 feet below.

Despite my persistent visions of falling to my death, the performance was quite enjoyable and provided enough high culture to last me a year or two.

Madeleine Peyroux at Ravinia

Madeleine Peyroux's sole Chicago stop on her current tour was at Ravinia where I was able to catch her while enjoying a wonderful picnic under blue skies on the Pavilion Lawn. Ravinia is an extraordinary place - easily accessible from Chicago via the Metra and highly conducive to a very laid back and romantic concert experience.

Madeleine Peyroux was more impressive in live performance than on any of her studio work. She is petite, young and pretty, but belts out gutsy jazz vocals as if she were Ella Fitzgerald reincarnated. The spunk and polish of both herself and her skilled band made the performance nothing but spectacular. Her songs ranged from haunting contemplations to fun up-tempo Jazz/Blues fare. Definitely the right type of music for a barefooted picnic in the Summer.

Long-time New Orleans' Jazz standard Dr. John opened for her with more mainstream southern Jazz numbers. His seemed a very folksy presentation, but a good opening for Peyroux nonetheless. But from the first song Peyroux opened with, the entire atmosphere of the place changed and all ears seemed fixed on the music (though there were still plenty of wine glasses being raised).

The concert was thoroughly impressive and I will definitely catch her the next time she comes around.