For his seventh season as music director, Riccardo Muti will lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 10 weeks of subscription concerts over five residencies in September and October, and then in February, March, May and June of 2017.
Among the highlights:
Season-opening concerts: Launching the 2016-17 season, Muti will lead the CSO in an all-orchestral program of Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain, Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 (Sept. 22-23 and 27); he and the CSO will reprise the program for a one-night concert (Sept. 24) at the University of Illinois’ Krannert Center in Urbana-Champaign.
Muti also will lead the CSO’s annual free community concert, this season to be presented at the Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester, on the South Side (Oct. 13). The all-Beethoven program will feature the composer’s Fifth Symphony.
For the annual Symphony Ball concert (Oct. 16), Muti again will be on the podium as the CSO concludes its 125th anniversary season with a program that re-creates the orchestra’s very first program performed 125 years ago, featuring works by Wagner, Dvořák, Beethoven (Symphony No. 5) and Tchaikovsky (Piano Concerto No. 1, with Daniil Trifonov as the soloist).
European tour: Muti and the CSO will return to Europe for a two-week, 11-concert tour in January 2017. Details will be announced this spring.
The 125th anniversary of Prokofiev’s birth: Muti will honor this milestone by conducting the CSO’s first-ever performances (Feb. 23-25) of Ivan the Terrible. Joining them will be actor Gérard Depardieu as the narrator, vocal soloists Sasha Cooke (mezzo-soprano) and Mikhail Petrenko (bass), and the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Chicago Children’s Choir.
Beethoven piano concerto cycle: The CSO will perform all five piano concertos, with Muti leading the last three: No. 4, with Yefim Bronfman (Feb. 16-18); No. 3, with Mitsuko Uchida (March 16, 18-19 and 21), and No. 5 (Emperor), with Radu Lupu (April 27-29).
Brahms cycle: The maestro will conduct a complete cycle of Brahms’ four symphonies, with the First and Second symphonies on one program (May 4-6 and 9), and the Third and Fourth symphonies the following week (May 11-13).
Salute to Italian opera: Closing out the subscription season, Muti will lead four performances (June 22-25) of Italian opera arias, overtures and choruses, featuring the CSO with bass Riccardo Zanellato, the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Chicago Children’s Choir. The program consists of Verdi’s overtures to Nabucco and I vespri siciliani; the aria “Gli arredi festivi,” and the chorus “Va, pensiero” from Nabucco; the Anvil Chorus from Il trovatore, and “Patria oppressa” from Macbeth, as well as Puccini’s intermezzo to Act 3 of Manon Lescaut; Mascagni’s intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana, and the first-ever CSO performance of Boito’s prologue to Mefistofele.