During its 2017-2018 season, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance will be presenting rarities of opera and dance in programs often rooted in history but at the same time showcases of the new.
On the docket (and in addition to the many performances by the Harris’ resident companies) will be the U.S. premiere of the three surviving operas of Claudio Monteverdi, the Italian composer who bridged the Renaissance and Baroque periods; a visit by American Ballet Theatre featuring Misty Copeland’s Harris Theater debut; and the Mark Morris Dance Group performing a centuries old love story, “Layla and Majnun,” often described as “the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ of the East.”
In a prepared statement, Paul Organisak, Harris Theater’s president and CEO, noted: “I am so fortunate to have inherited such a strong season from my predecessor, Michael Tiknis [who stepped down from the position he held since the theater first opened in 2003]. “This season, the Harris continues to bring the best in the world to its stage, and we are humbled to create access to these legendary stories and artists for Chicago audiences.”
3-Pack Flex passes are now on sale and feature many benefits. For additional information call (312) 334-7777 or visit http://www.harristheaterchicago.org.
Here is a closer look at the Harris Theater’s 2017-2018 season:
+ Monteverdi 450: Although Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) has long been recognized as the father of opera, only three of his contributions to the form survive. With 2017 marking the 450th anniversary of the Venetian master’s birth, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir, and the English Baroque Soloists have announced an ambitious international tour, with concert performances of all three operas (“L’Orfeo,” “Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria,” and “L’incoronazione di Poppea”) that spin tales of ancient Greece and Rome. The tour will stop in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy and Spain, with the Harris hosting its U.S. premiere. Performances are as follows: “L’Orfeo” (Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m.); “Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria” (Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m.) and “L’Incoronazione di Poppea” (Oct. 15 at 2 p.m.).
+ American Ballet Theatre: The legendary company will arrive with a gala program (Feb. 21, 2018), featuring three works: “Her Notes,” choreographed by Jessica Lang (the self-described “visual artist whose medium is dance”), set to music by Fanny Mendelssohn (Felix’s sister) that chronicles the months of the year she spent in Rome with her family; “Thirteen Diversions” by Christopher Wheeldon, set to Benjamin Britten’s “Diversions for Piano (Left Hand) and Orchestra,” and a third piece still to be named.
Then comes Program A (Feb. 22 and 24, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.), with Alexei Ratmansky’s “Serenade after Plato’s Symposium,” set to Leonard Bernstein’s 1954 concerto of the same name, and evoking the spirit of the debate and discourse of ancient Greece depicted in Plato’s celebrated text; the pas de deux from Anthony Tudor’s classic, “The Leaves are Fading,” to music by Dvorak; Wheeldon’s “Thirteen Diversions,” and another pas de deux still to be announced.
Finally, Program B (Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 25 at 2 p.m.), will include Lang’s “Her Notes,” a new work by Ratmansky set to debut this summer, and additional pieces to be announced.
+ Mark Morris Dance Group in “Layla and Majnun”: This 70-minute work for 16 dancers will feature mugham(Azerbaijani) vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, and musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble on traditional Asian instruments (kamancheh, tar, shakuhachi, and pipa) combined with Western strings (two violins, viola, cello, and contrabass) and a percussionist. The staged production will spin the story (dating from centuries before “Romeo and Juliet”) of being “possessed” by love.
Howard Hodgkin, the esteemed English painter and expert collector of antique Mughal miniature paintings, has designed the decor based on a South Indian katcheri (classical music concert) with all of the musicians and dancers sharing the stage space on platforms and in front of a backdrop. Morris describes it as “a visually, musically, and choreographically unified and self-contained concert piece – an enlightening tragedy.”
This production will not only introduce a beloved cornerstone of Middle Eastern folklore to a wide audience in the U.S. and abroad, but it also will home in on an area of current geopolitical focus and concern that also is the homeland of many immigrant communities in the U.S. —South Asians, Iranians, Arabs, and Azerbaijanis, among others.
Performances will be March 16, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. and March 17, 2018 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.