Simon Boccanegra at Lyric Opera of Chicago Credit: Dan Rest/Sun-Times Media

Carl F. Hammer, owner of Carl Hammer Gallery, raves over:

Simon Boccanegra at Lyric Opera of Chicago I recently attended Giuseppe Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. It epitomized what an opera performance, for me, should be. Packed with political, romantic, and familial intrigue, the story combined the magic of beautiful Verdi arias with a spectacular selection of voices (cast). The very moving story, while abundantly tragic, was about the realization of the beauty of forgiveness and the resulting unification of a great nation (Italy) personified through the individual character roles played within the narrative. In Boccenegra, the libretto itself rises to the level of the magnificence of the music, a trait not too often found within the genre. Interestingly, the story (first performed in the mid-19th century) seemed to portray uncanny parallels to today’s adversarial political/social atmosphere here in America, posing integrity and reconciliation as its antidotes to peoples’ divisive nature.

Mike Schuppe, Chicago Slam Works managing director, is still thinking about:

Argo I loved Argo. Well produced, fascinating movie about the clandestine mission to save hostages in Iran who escaped the embassy before it was taken over. The audacious plan to disguise the hostages as a movie crew was amazing, Alan Arkin was hilarious as a hard-bitten crusty old movie producer, and Ben Affleck’s performance is a study in underplaying a role while maintaining an incredible intensity.

I think when a lot of movies feel like they have to be bombastic to get their point across, it was very refreshing to see a movie whose tension was built on the real interactions of real people. Affleck does not act “heroic” (read: “overact”), but he shows a fine sense of subtlety and introspection which is enormously powerful.

For me the measure of a great movie is how much I continue to think about the movie the next day. I continue to think about this movie a lot.

Dylan Gutierrez as Death in the Joffrey Ballet production of Human LandscapesCredit: Sean willliams/Sun-Times Media

Laura Przybysz, Office Manager of Big City Swing, is wowed by:

Joffrey Ballet’s Human Landscapes I recommend that anyone who can should attend this season of the Joffrey Ballet. The dancing is impeccable and very strong, the choreography is very interesting, and they highlight choreography from all over the world in several different eras within the modern period. It’s thematically interesting: called Human Landscapes, it’s about people, bodies, and how people interact with each other. The last piece is about death. Well, it’s not about death, it’s about other things too, but Death is a character and he’s very, very scary. It’s called the “Green Table” and it’s from the First World War, by Kurt Jooss. It’s almost overwhelming, all the raw talent on display. It was especially cool because the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel himself, was at this performance. He gave a curtain speech about arts programming in schools.