#5: Ensemble Musical Offering at Cathedral Church of All Saints.
Why? Because Johann Sebastian Bach’s “creative powers” went beyond his inventions, cantatas and concertos. He also “created” a slew of children, some of whom grew up to be celebrated composers in their own right. At the top of this list is Carl Phillipp Emanuel Bach (known to his pals as C.P.E. Bach), who was one of the musical minds that helped Western music make the transition from the Baroque to the Classical style favored by Mozart and his ilk. March marked Carl’s 300th birthday, and the early music ensemble EMO pays him homage with a program that features Grammy nominated Harpsichord player Jory Vinikour.
#4: Uprooted Theatre’s It’s a Man’s World at Next Act Theatre.
Why? Because the folks at Uprooted have had a busy Spring, with several hefty and serious-minded productions and staged readings to their credit. For the warmer months, they bend a bit toward the lighter side—cabaret performances featuring stellar Milwaukee talent. It starts Monday with Milwaukee Rep Associate Artist Kelley Faulkner, who has taken on most of the great musical roles—Sally Bowles, Roxie Hart, and even Patsy Cline. Here, she gets a chance to sing songs written for that “other gender,” with the Rep’s Dan Kazemi at the piano.
#3: Theatre Gigante’s Midsummer in Midwinter at UWM’s Kenilworth Studio 508.
Why? Because nothing says summer like Midsummer—Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, that is. And Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson offer a new spin on the Puck-ish comedy with this farcical mash-up featuring live music and some of the city’s most talented performers—Deborah Clifton, John Kishline, and Bo Johnson. All the ideas and all the fun of Shakespeare's original will surely be there, but expect some Gigante "twists" along the way.
#2: Skylight Opera’s I Hear America Singing at the Broadway Theatre Center.
Why? Because if the name Daron Hagen doesn’t ring a bell when you’re thinking of famous Milwaukee musical exports, it should. After growing up here, studying at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and at UW-Madison, Hagen has gone on to win almost every award available to a composer, including a recent Guggenheim Fellowship. The Skylight Theatre offers him a homecoming of sorts with this show, a musical revue of songs from pre-radio days (1860-1920) that were heard in parlors and saloons from coast to coast. Hagen arranged some of the standards and added his own musical material. Local favorites Carol Grief and Rick Pendzich join the composer and Music Director Robert Frankenberry on the production.
#1: Florentine Opera’s La Boheme at the Marcus Center.
Why? Because you’ve had plenty of chances to hear or see Puccini’s much-loved opera (or variations of it) over the past few years—in Chicago, perhaps; on the Metropolitan Opera’s telecasts; or in the Milwaukee Ballet’s danced version. But you haven’t seen it live with two veritable stars in the title roles. That’s what the Florentine offers with their season closer: Soprano Alyson Cambridge sings Mimi, and tenor Noah Stewart sings Rudolfo. A grand-opera production with more-or-less guaranteed goosebumps, misty eyes, and at least a few ovations.