Buffy Baggott and Fulcrum Point | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Buffy Baggott and Fulcrum Point 

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BUFFY BAGGOTT AND FULCRUM POINT

The Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, the company's training arm, has seen many of its alumni take major roles on the Lyric's main stage--recent graduates Juliana Rambaldi and Mark McCrory, for instance, star in this season's production of A View From the Bridge. Mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggott is the cream of the center's latest crop. She has a sultry, agile voice and riveting stage presence, and like many of her contemporaries in opera she's mediagenic (that is, she looks good and she can act). In some ways she models herself after Catherine Malfitano, the Lyric's versatile soprano: Baggott too intends to specialize in 20th-century operas, and last season gave vivid performances in minor roles in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's presentation of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron and the Lyric's stab at Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. But this concert, part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, takes her away from opera entirely--conductor and trumpeter Stephen Burns, leader of the iconoclastic ad hoc chamber ensemble Fulcrum Point, has programmed an evening called "Old/New Song and Dance." The "old" music comes first, a trio of Spanish and Mexican works from the early part of the century: Manuel de Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs, a pungent blend of colorful folk elements, here in an arrangement by Burns; Silvestre Revueltas's Homage to Federico Garcia Lorca; and Joaquin Rodrigo's Serenade for Guitar and Violin. Baggott will sing only on the Falla, but to make sure her renditions are authentic, she's been studying the Castilian accent. The "new" half of the program consists of four pieces from the 1980s or '90s: Paulo Bellinati's Jongo for solo guitar, the movement "American Dreams" from Peter Schickele's String Quartet no. 1, Leon Kirchner's Music for 12, and Randall Woolf's Shakedown, compositions that pay homage respectively to Brazilian dance, funk, jazz, and rock. For this show Fulcrum Point will be 19 members strong, including violinist Sharon Polifrone, violist Keith Conant, flutist Mary Stolper, and guitarist Christopher Laughlin, who will be the soloist in the Bellinati and the Rodrigo. Thursday, November 11, 7:30 PM, ballroom, School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan; 773-722-5463. Ted Shen

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