Ravinia celebrates opera with Mozart's Così fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by James Conlon and joined by all-star casts as well as members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Both operas will be presented in the Martin Theatre and will receive two performances, Così on Aug. 5 and 7 and Figaro on Aug. 6 and 8. Cosi fan tutte features "one of America's finest artists and singers" (New York Times), mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, portraying Despina; Grammy Award winning soprano Ana Maria Martinez, who last appeared at Ravinia with Plácido Domingo at the festival's 2007 Gala, as Fiordiligi; Romanian mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose, who recently appeared as Veronica Quaife in The Fly at L.A. Opera, making her Ravinia debut as Dorabella; Russian baritone Rodion Pogosov, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut playing Papageno in the 2004 production of Die Zauberflöte, portraying Guglielmo in his festival debut; and Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu, who made his US debut singing Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi at LA Opera, conducted by Conlon and directed by Woody Allen, appearing as Ferrando in his festival debut.
The Marriage of Figaro features baritone Nathan Gunn, whose recent recording of Britten's Billy Budd won a Grammy Award, as the Count; Italian bass Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, who won rave reviews in Ravinia's 2008 concerts of Don Giovanni, portraying Figaro; Grammy Award winning soprano Rebecca Evans, who has performed with the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, Scottish Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper
and more, as the Countess; soprano Lisette Oropesa, currently appearing in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and set to appear as Konstanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio at Tanglewood this summer, making her festival debut portraying Susanna; mezzo-soprano Lauren McNeese, who recently appeared at Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, to reprise her role of La Ciesca from the critically acclaimed Woody Allen production of Gianni Schicchi, making her Ravinia debut playing Cherubino; legendary tenor John Aler, who recently performed at the Cincinnati May Festival in Mozart's Requiem and Weill's Seven Deadly Sins, as Basilio; mezzo-soprano Jane Bunnell, who is currently appearing in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, in her Ravinia debut as Marcellina; and soprano Lei Xu, a Juilliard School attendee who appeared in a master class led by Renée Fleming, making her festival debut playing Barbarina. The August 5 and 6 performances will begin at 7 p.m., and those on August 7 and 8 will begin at 1 p.m., with a special ticket and brunch package available for the August 8 performance for $90.
Grammy Award-winning male chorus Chanticleer performs in the Martin Theatre at 8 p.m. on Monday, August 2. The program features works by Bates, Calvisius and Ligeti.
Pacifica Quartet, former Ravinia Festival Rising Stars performers, and pianist Orion Weiss commemorate the 200th birthday or Robert Schumann in an intimate Martin Theatre recital at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3. Weiss is the winner of the Gilmore Young Artist Award and the Juilliard William Petschek Award and is recipient of the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at The Juilliard School. The program will include the Ravinia Festival premiere of Voices by composer Jennifer Higdon, which was dedicated to the Pacifica Quartet.
After making her Ravinia debut last year in a tribute to Rodgers & Hammerstein, Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics award-nominated soprano Kelli O'Hara returns to perform in a one-woman show on August 4 at 8:30 p.m. in the Martin Theatre. She recently starred in the Tony Award-winning revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center, enrapturing audiences and critics alike with her soulful and complex interpretation of Nellie Forbush and garnering a third Tony nomination in the process. James Conlon will conduct a vocal master class at 7 p.m. in Bennett • Gordon Hall which is free and open to the public.
The sounds of Motown fill Ravinia at 7 p.m. on Sunday, August 8 with vocal groups The Temptations and recent Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners The Four Tops in a double bill.
The BoDeans return to Ravinia at 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 7. The group burst onto the scene with a ranking on the Billboard Top 100, a touring slot with U2 and the title of "Best New Band" from Rolling Stone magazine. Their hit song "Closer to Free" was used as the theme for the television show Party of Five and made the Billboard Top 10, winning them an ASCAP award for being one of the most played songs of the year. Blues/pop band Big Head Todd & The Monsters, who released their ninth studio album Rocksteady on July 20, opens the show. Grammy Award-winning baritone Nathan Gunn, along with wife and pianist Julie Gunn, conduct a master class on 1:30 p.m. in Bennett • Gordon Hall which is free and open to the public.