Orpheus Chamber Orchestra | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra 

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Swedish baritone Hakan Hagegard is best known to the general public for his endearing portrayal of Papageno in Ingmar Bergman's sublime film adaptation of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Now graying but still boyishly handsome, Hagegard has pursued an estimable career in opera houses and recital halls all over the world, inheriting the mantle of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the all-purpose Meistersinger. Indeed, some of his lieder recordings uncannily recall the older German's solid and heartfelt singing. But like his predecessor and idol, Hagegard is by no means a star with the wattage of a Domingo. Instead he's quietly compiled an impressive track record anchored in versatile and meticulous--albeit occasionally dull--musicianship. Earlier in the season he admirably re-created his role as Beaumarchais in Lyric Opera's revival of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles. Now he's back in town to team up with the consistently excellent New York-based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to perform selections from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Count on Hagegard and his collaborators to bring forth the music's pathos, mirth, and angelic innocence. The conductorless Orpheus, whose core membership consists of 17 string and 9 wind players, likes to champion the obscure and the new. Both are represented on this Orchestra Hall program. Johann Mayr was a late-18th-century German-born composer whose immense output of Italianate operas found fleeting popularity; the cause of his brief fame probably can be deciphered from the overture to Elisa. Hyla, to be given its local premiere, was commissioned by the Orpheus from Lee Hyla, an Indiana native now teaching at the New England Conservatory. It consists of a series of permutations on three initial ideas. Monday, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 294-3000. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Christian Steiner.

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