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Fall Culture Guide: The City’s 14 Best Blue-Chip Artists

Break out the bow ties—it’s about to get classy in here. Here’s a primer on the top tickets in Chicago this season.

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Blue-chip artists performances for $55 and over

Photography: (Williams) Cheryl Mann; (Bennett) Luke Isley; (Mälkki) Simon Fowler; (Muti) Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune; (Osorio) Tedd Rosenberg; (Martinez) Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune; (Arbus) Gerry Goodstein; Photo Illustration: Andrew R. Davis
 

From left: Robyn Mineko Williams, Christiana Bennett, Susanna Mälkki, Riccardo Muti, Jorge Federico Osorio, Ana María Martínez, and Arin Arbus

Higher-Priced Performances

Robyn Mineko Williams
Choreographer

With one Hubbard Street Dance Chicago choreographer (Alejandro Cerrudo) on his way to becoming a national treasure, the contemporary dance company is busy fostering another: this Lombard-raised dancer and choreographer, whose 2012 work Recall toyed with the juxtaposition of fluid movement against stark geometric patterns. She will premiere a new dance in October featuring costumes by the dancer-turned-rising-fashion-star Hogan McLaughlin. From $52 to $77; hubbardstreetdance.com. Oct. 10 to 13

Christiana Bennett
Ballerina

In the second season of the CW reality show Breaking Pointe, Ballet West star Christiana Bennett auditions for the part of Cinderella. Anyone who has seen her perform knows how the episode ends: She nabs it, of course. The poised prima exudes the qualities that have made this Salt Lake City company, now under the artistic direction of former Joffrey dancer Adam Sklute, a touring machine: grace, exquisite technique, and stamina. She’ll need the latter for her two-and-a-half-hour turn as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. From $30 to $90; balletwest.org. Oct. 4 to 6

Susanna Mälkki
Conductor

At 44, the young-for-conducting Finn’s expertise in contemporary music usually yields gushing reviews that single out her sharp interpretations and precise leadership. This fall, with the CSO, she conducts Sibelius, Adès, Debussy, and Stravinsky (with Leila Josefowicz, another modern specialist). From $31 to $113; cso.org. Oct. 17, 19, 22

Riccardo Muti
Music director

Giuseppe Verdi isn’t around to celebrate with on his 200th birthday, but second best is to celebrate with his music and arguably his foremost interpreter: Muti, the CSO’s music director and the author of Verdi, L’Italiano. The multiweek party features a concert version of the opera Macbeth with the Muti-groomed soprano Tatiana Serjan unable to clean her hands as Lady Macbeth and a one-night-only performance of Verdi’s totemic, moody, and meditative Requiem on the precise date of the bicentenary. From $44 to $191; cso.org. Through Oct. 11

Jorge Federico Osorio
Pianist

This mellow Mexican-born Highland Park resident takes a turn for the energetic this season, reminding us that the piano can be a percussion instrument. At Orchestra Hall, he’ll bring the piano concerto of the Mexican nationalist composer Carlos Chávez roaring to life; it’s a piece he recorded with the Mexican national orchestra this year. From $71 to $234; cso.org. Dec. 12, 13, 14, 17

Ana María Martínez
Soprano

Her masterly Mimi in last season’s La Bohème at the Lyric Opera was outbuzzed by Hurricane Anna: that is, the Chicago debut of megastar Anna Netrebko. But this season the Puerto Rican–born Martínez two-ups the Russian diva (at least locally) with starring roles as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello to open the season and as Rusalka in Dvořák’s Rusalka in the winter. With her spirit and generous tone, Martínez seems ready to quietly overwhelm Chicago operagoers—as much as an operatic soprano can quietly overwhelm anything. From $34 to $264; lyricopera.org. Oct. 5 to Nov. 11

Arin Arbus
Director

Under the well-dissected conservatism of Lyric’s 2013–14 repertoire lies less-visible risk taking. This newcomer, still in her 30s, makes her Lyric debut with only her second opera ever: a new production of La Traviata, the warhorsiest of warhorses. Arbus’s success with New York productions of two Shakespeare plays, Othello and The Taming of the Shrew, suggests she can handily vivify the old stuff. From $34 to $264; lyricopera.org. Nov. 20 to Dec. 20

 

More in Fall Previews:
Comedy: Nick Offerman | Art: Insiders’ Guide | Art: Michelle Grabner
Theatre: Insiders’ Guide | Theatre: David Cromer | Music: Insiders’ Guide
Music: Numero Group | Music: Top 10 Shows | Classics: Blue-Chip Artists

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