Harris Theater Has Announced Their 2020-21 Season

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Harris Theater Has Announced Their 2020-21 Season

The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance has announced its Harris Theater Presents season for 2020-21, its most ambitious and diverse lineup to date. With 36 performances - including one international premiere and North American exclusive, Chicago debuts, and artists representing 11 countries and countless cultural influences -the 2020-21 season reaffirms the Harris Theater's commitment to presenting a multitude of voices and genres on its stage in Millennium Park.

"As a presenter, we have the opportunity to bring artists from throughout the country and around the world to Chicago to share their work," said Patricia Barretto, Harris Theater President and CEO. "It's something I take very seriously - in curating a season we are committed not only to the highest artistic quality, but also to providing a space for artists who have something to say, for stories that feel relevant to the city in which we reside."

"This season touches on themes like xenophobia, trauma, political revolution, human flaws and fragility, creation, and legacy," Barretto continued. "These topics can be divisive, but when addressed through an intensely personal perspective, in the universal languages of music and movement, they can remind us just how much we have in common as human beings. We believe deeply in the power of the arts to connect us to one another, and our 2020-21 programming reflects that belief."

This season marks a significant expansion of Harris Theater Presents Mainstage music offerings, with the addition of three vocal recitals with some of the biggest names in opera today: Javier Camarena, the Mexican tenor whose gleaming high notes and flawless coloratura have earned rare encores at the Metropolitan Opera; Kansas City-born mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in a program ranging from Baroque to American jazz standards; and soprano Patricia Racette with a program of songs by French chanteuse Edith Piaf. Antonio Pappano will lead the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with violinist Maxim Vengerov, Vengerov's first Chicago appearance since 2015. Cape Town Opera will make its Chicago debut with the moving and powerful Mandela Trilogy, which employs a unique fusion of traditional Xhosa songs, jazz, and modern music to depict the life of anti-apartheid revolutionary and South Africa's first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela.

The 2020-21 HTP Mainstage dance season features English National Ballet (ENB) in the international premiere and exclusive North American presentation of Creature, the first new work for ENB from Akram Khan since his reimagined Giselle garnered rave reviews and sold out performances around the world. Khan will also open the dance season with his solo work XENOS - marking his final tour of the work as a dancer. Paris Opera Ballet will also return to Chicago for the first time since 2012 in Le Parc, the exquisite and sensual 1994 work by Angelin Preljocaj, his first commission for the storied company. All three presentations will include live music - an onstage quintet of international musicians in XENOS, and the skillful playing of Chicago Philharmonic to accompany Paris Opera Ballet and English National Ballet.

Mix at Six includes seven performances in 2020-21, with five presentations on the Harris Theater stage and two summer concerts on the Theater's rooftop overlooking Millennium Park. New Orleans's Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers will open the season on the rooftop, followed by Chilean jazz guitarist Camila Meza and The Nectar Orchestra. Appearing on the Theater stage will be France's Compagnie Herve KOUBI in The Barbarian Nights or The First Dawns of the World, which draws on Koubi's Algerian heritage and is performed by twelve Algerian and Burkinan dancers; Haitian-American composer and vocalist Nathalie Joachim with Spektral Quartet; a new commission from Chicago dancemaker Ben Wardell and The Cambrians; San Francisco singer-songwriter Meklit whose music draws on folk, jazz, and the music of her native Ethiopia; and a mixed repertoire program from The Chicago Academy for the Arts dance ensemble.

Of Mix at Six, Barretto added, "The success of this series has shown us again and again that there is an incredible appetite for the live performing arts in our city, spanning every age, income, identity, and community. This year we will continue to present diverse artistic voices, offer a casual and inclusive atmosphere, and keep the price point accessible because we believe that the arts are for everyone. Our hope is that all Chicagoans can feel at home at the Harris, and see themselves reflected on our stage"

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center celebrates its 10th year in residence at the Harris in 2020-21 with four intimate evening concerts, and for the first time, an appearance on the Theater's popular Family Series. The Percussion Collective completes the 2020-21 Chamber Music Series with Seaborne, a new original work evoking the beauty and fragility of our planet's oceans, performed alongside Steve Reich's seminal work Sextet.

The 2020-21 Family Series will open with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in Albert and Wolfgang, a classical music adventure with narration and video projection that explores the connections between two legendary geniuses - Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. CMS will be joined on the Family Series by local performance collective Manual Cinema in their enchanting work of puppet theater The Magic City, along with Cape Town Opera presenting Freedom In Our Time, a special program which will introduce young audiences to the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Subscriptions are on sale now for 2020-21 HTP Mainstage, Mix at Six, Chamber Music, and Family Series.

2020-21 Beyond the Aria dates and artists will be announced this summer.

2020-21 AT A GLANCE

August 19, 2020 / 6:00PM Mix at Six Rooftop: Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers

September 2, 2020 / 6:00PM Mix at Six Rooftop: Camila Meza and The Nectar Orchestra

October 15, 2020 / 7:30PM Chamber Music Series: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Spanish Inspirations

October 17, 2020 / 2:00PM Family Series: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Albert and Wolfgang

November 6, 2020 / 7:30PM Akram Khan
November 7, 2020 / 7:30PM XENOS

November 10, 2020 / 6:00PM Mix at Six: Compagnie Hervé KOUBI
The Barbarian Nights or The First Dawns of the World

December 2, 2020 / 6:00PM Mix at Six: Nathalie Joachim with Spektral Quartet
Fanm d'Ayiti

December 8, 2020 / 7:30PM Patricia Racette
Piaf: No Regrets

December 16, 2020 / 7:30PM Chamber Music Series: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
From Prague to Vienna

January 21, 2021 / 6:00PM Mix at Six: The Cambrians
Chicago Dances

February 4, 2021 / 7:30PM Paris Opera Ballet
February 5, 2021 / 7:30PM Le Parc
February 6, 2021 / 2:00PM + 7:30PM

February 17, 2021 / 7:30PM Joyce DiDonato

February 26, 2021 / 7:30PM Cape Town Opera
February 27, 2021 / 7:30PM Mandela Trilogy

February 27, 2021 / 2:00PM Family Series: Cape Town Opera
Freedom in Our Time

March 3, 2021 / 7:30PM Chamber Music Series: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
The Great Sonatas

March 18, 2021 / 7:30PM English National Ballet
March 19, 2021 / 7:30PM Akram Khan's Creature - INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
March 20, 2021 / 2:00PM + 7:30PM

March 24, 2021 / 7:30PM Chamber Music Series: The Percussion Collective

April 10, 2021 / 7:30PM Javier Camarena

April 15, 2021 / 7:30PM Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Antonio Pappano, conductor
Maxim Vengerov, violin

April 17, 2021 / 2:00PM Family Series: Manual Cinema
The Magic City

April 27, 2021 / 6:00PM Mix at Six: Meklit

April 28, 2021 / 7:30PM Chamber Music Series: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Brahms Effect

May 6, 2021 / 6:00PM Mix at Six: The Chicago Academy for the Arts


Akram Khan

Friday, November 6, 2020 / 7:30PM
Saturday, November 7, 2020 / 7:30PM

XENOS, a solo work created and performed by Akram Khan, gives voice to the shell-shocked dream of a colonial soldier in the First World War, revealing the beauty and horror of the human condition in its portrait of an Indian dancer whose skilled body becomes an instrument of war. Shifting between classical kathak and contemporary dance, XENOS takes place on the border between East and West, past and present, mythology and technology, where humanity still stands in wonder and disarray.

The sole dancer in this "triumph of energy, empathy and intelligence" (Telegraph UK), Khan is accompanied onstage by five international musicians: percussionist B C Manjunath, vocalist Aditya Prakash, bass player Nina Harries, violinist Clarice Rarity, and saxophonist Tamar Osborn.

Patricia Racette
Piaf: No Regrets

Tuesday, December 8, 2020 / 7:30PM

Patricia Racette, one of the premier American sopranos of her generation, makes her HTP Mainstage debut in an evening of Edith Piaf, accompanied by pianist Craig Terry. Piaf's songs of love, loss, and sorrow made her the national chanteuse of France and one of the country's most widely known and loved artists. In Racette's own words, "I find myself continually coming back to the songs of Piaf ... because of the raw, visceral nature of her delivery, the kind of drive that melded its way into all aspects of my own artistic identity over the years. Trying to emulate Piaf is not the goal -- that has been done. This evening is my chance to put my voice on songs that create windows into the soul of her tragic and triumphant life."

Paris Opera Ballet
Le Parc

Thursday, February 4, 2021 / 7:30PM
Friday, February 5, 2021 / 7:30PM
Saturday, February 6, 2021 / 2:00PM
Saturday, February 6, 2021 / 7:30PM

With origins in the 17th century, Paris Opera Ballet (POB) is one of the world's oldest and most storied ballet companies. Returning to Chicago for the first time since 2012, now under the direction of former etoile Aurelie Dupont, POB will perform Angelin Preljocaj's contemporary story ballet, Le Parc. In this piece specifically created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1994, Preljocaj finds a subtle balance between the classical genius of Mozart's music and the modernity of his choreographic language. The perfectly chiseled sets evoke the elegance and refinement of a Frencha?'style garden while the costumes draw inspiration from the Age of Enlightenment. The dancers awaken to love, from first encounters to seduction, from timidity to attraction, from resistance to the sweet appeal of abandon in sublimely soaring "pas de deux".

Joyce DiDonato

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 / 7:30PM

In Songplay, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato unites extraordinary musicians from the varied worlds of opera, jazz, and tango in the pure pleasure of improvisation, experimentation, and exchange. Along with her hand-picked band led by pianist and arranger Craig Terry, Joyce draws inspiration from Cavalli and Chet Baker in equal measure. The Olivier and Grammy Award-winning DiDonato first appeared on the Harris Theater stage in 2017 with In War and Peace, which demonstrated the healing power of music that brings people together on the path towards peace. Songplay picks up from that place of peace and leaps into the realm of joy: it is an all-encompassing celebration of song - one in which there are no boundaries or rules.

Cape Town Opera
Mandela Trilogy

Friday, February 26, 2021 / 7:30PM
Saturday, February 27, 2021 / 7:30PM

As Africa's premier opera company and South Africa's largest non-profit performing arts organisation, Cape Town Opera (CTO) fosters the expression of a national identity through the creation and performance of new South African works, alongside classics of the genre. Mandela Trilogy is a CTO original production that highlights the unique and forceful sound of the African voice, employing a unique fusion of traditional Xhosa songs, jazz tunes, and modern music in honor of one of the world's most inspiring statesmen, Nelson Mandela. The work consists of three acts - an encounter with traditional rural music, a jazz musical, and an opera - representing the diversity of expression in contemporary South Africa, and reflecting the evolution of Mandela's political and personal life.

English National Ballet
Akram Khan's Creature

Thursday, March 18, 2021 / 7:30PM - INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
Friday, March 19, 2021 / 7:30PM
Saturday, March 20, 2021 / 2:00PM
Saturday, March 20, 2021 / 7:30PM

Following the pivotal impact of his reimagined Giselle, Akram Khan returns to English National Ballet for his third collaboration with the company. Creature is an unearthly tale of exploitation and human frontiers inspired by Georg Büchner's expressionist classic Woyzeck, with shadows of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Drawing on themes of abandonment, isolation and the fragility of the mind, Creature is the tale of an outsider and the search for belonging. Khan is joined by a brilliant creative team of Academy Award-winning designer Tim Yip, composer and sound designer Vincenzo Lamagna, lighting designer Michael Hulls and dramaturg Ruth Little.

Akram Khan on Creature: "The outcast, the stranger, have been a common theme in my work. In Creature, I am looking further into the areas related to the sense of abandonment, rage and loss."

A co-production between English National Ballet and Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Co-Producer: Sadler's Wells, London
Production Partner: The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater

Javier Camarena

Saturday, April 10, 2021 / 7:30PM

Mexican tenor Javier Camarena, the preeminent Mozart and Bel Canto specialist of his generation, returns to Chicago for the first time since his "sensational" (Chicago Tribune) debut at the Harris in 2016. Praised for his burnished tone, gleaming high notes, flawless coloratura, and veracious portrayals, he regularly appears in leading roles alongside today's foremost stars at the world's top opera houses and was the face of Opera News's 80th anniversary edition this past January. Last season, as Ernesto in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, he became only the second singer in Metropolitan Opera history to perform encores in multiple productions at the house, after the audience demanded a repeat of his aria "E se fia che ad altro oggetto." Camarena went on to repeat the same feat in La fille du régiment at Madrid's Teatro Real, followed by his recent triumph there in his debut as Gualtiero in Bellini's Il Pirata.

Javier Camarena and pianist Ángel Rodríguez have been musical partners for many years and perform recitals all over the world. They recently engaged in a highly acclaimed recital tour throughout Spain and landed an outstanding coup with their solo recital debut at the Los Angeles Opera.

This program presents the essence of Bel Canto repertoire and shows Javier Camarena's great agility and expertise. Well-loved arias by Gounod, Donizetti, Verdi, and Bellini are paired with Laló or Flotow in a lovely program, promising another sensational evening in Chicago.

Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Antonio Pappano, conductor
Maxim Vengerov, violin

Thursday, April 15, 2021 / 7:30PM

The Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Roma was the first orchestra in Italy to devote itself exclusively to the symphonic repertoire. Founded in 1908, the Orchestra has been conducted by some of the major musical figures of the 20th century, such as Mahler, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Karajan, Bernstein and Abbado. Sir Antonio Pappano, one of the world's most sought after conductors, has been in the role of Music Director since 2005. Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia will be joined in their Harris Theater debut by violinist Maxim Vengerov.

***Programs, prices, and dates are subject to change***


Flex Pack and series subscriptions are available now online and at the Harris Theater Box Office. Patrons can build a Flex Pack subscription by selecting three or more of the above Harris Theater Presents Mainstage performances. Subscribers gain access to the best seats, deepest discounts, and unique benefits including:

· A 40% discount on Harris Theater Presents tickets

· Access to discounted parking in the Millennium Park Garage - $20 for 6 hours - available to purchase online

· Discounts and special offers when dining with Harris Theater Restaurant Partners, including Acanto, The Gage, Beacon Tavern, Park Grill, and Remington's

· Invitations to special events, artist talks, and receptions throughout the season

To purchase a subscription or request a brochure, contact the box office at 312.334.7777 or visit in person at 205 East Randolph. Box Office hours are noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and performance days.

To learn more about the Harris Theater, visit www.harristheaterchicago.org.

Photo Credit: Kim Stevens

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