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10 classical concerts and operas to see this winter

The weather outside may be frightful, but Chicago's winter lineup of classical concerts and operas is delightful

Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

Winter is typically a time of year reserved for ice skating rinks and holiday markets, but it's also a great time to sit in a concert hall and take in some world-class performances. As the weather grows colder, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Budapest Festival Orchestra hit the stage while the Lyric Opera stages new and classic works. Warm up at some of the best classical concerts and operas in Chicago this winter.



Winter 2017 classical and opera

The Magic Flute

The Lyric Opera stages Mozart’s dramatic fairy tale, which follows a prince (in possession of the titular instrument) who sets out on a journey to rescue a maiden while fending off the evil Queen of the Night. The Magic Flute is widely regarded as a good introduction to opera for individuals of all ages... as long as you can handle the 3 hour runtime and read projected English subtitles (the production maintains the original German language).

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Until Fri Jan 27

Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Merry, Merry Chicago!

The CSO teams up with the Chicago Children’s Choir and vocalist Ashley Brown for an evening of holiday standards, including carols, sing-alongs and selections from The Nutcracker and Home Alone. You'll get to see Santa Claus, enjoy some amazing classical music and leave with plenty of Christmas cheer.

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Until Sat Dec 23

Do-It-Yourself Messiah


Hallelujah! This annual holiday tradition allows you to show off your pipes and belt out Handel’s Messiah with 1,499 other amateur singers, backed by an all-volunteer orchestra. Organized by the International Music Foundation, you'll need to show up to the event familiar with the score and ready to sing your heart out all evening long (you should also figure out if you're a soprano, alto, tenor or bass).

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Until Tue Dec 19

The Newberry Consort

The Newberry Library’s early music ensemble breaks out harps and fiddles for a program dedicated to the music and poetry of 14th century German nobleman Oswald von Wolkenstein. While the music is classical, the experience of seeing the group is decidedly modern, featuring visuals and supertitles that will enhance your understanding of this historic composer.

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Until Sat Jan 14

Chicago Sinfonietta: MLK Tribute Concert

Conductor Mei-Ann Chen leads the Chicago Sinfonietta in its annual tribute to the life and enduring message of Dr. Martin Luther King. With the help of a diverse group of young musicians, the orchestra presents a jubilant program that culminates in Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

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Until Mon Jan 15

Music of the Baroque: The Mass in C Minor

Allow local classical group Music of the Baroque to take you to church, as it performs a program that includes Mozart's Mass in C Minor and Beethoven's Coriolan Overture. Soprano Susanna Phillips will also join the group to sing Mozart's "Exsultate, jubilate."

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Until Mon Jan 23

Budapest Festival Orchestra

The acclaimed Budapest Festival Orchestra comes to Symphony Center, under the direction of Hungarian conductor and composer Iván Fischer. The orchestra will present an all-Beethoven program, including his famous Fifth Symphony and his Second Piano Concerto, as part of Symphony Center’s complete cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos in its 2016/17 season.

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Until Wed Feb 8


Take in a new-to-Chicago production of French composer Georges Bizet's classic opera, centered around a gypsy who seduces a soldier and a bullfighter. Carmen is filled with iconic music (some of which you've probably become familiar through various corners of popular culture), including the recognizable melodies of Habanera and the Toreador Song.

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Until Sat Mar 25

Morton Feldman Chamber Players

Based out of the Experimental Sound Studio in Edgewater, the Morton Feldman Chamber Players is an ensemble of musicians dedicated to the work of experimental composer Morton Feldman. Here, the players perform Feldman’s subdued and slowly changing melodies as part of the Frequency Festival.

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Until Thu Feb 16

The Invention of Morel

Composer Stewart Copeland, best known as the drummer of the Police, premieres his modern, sci-fi opera, which follows a traveler who arrives on isolated island that hides a mysterious, multi-dimensional secret.

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Until Sun Feb 26