Posted April 29, 2008
Lyric Opera of Chicago recently announced its 2008/09 season, and Chicago Opera Theater’s 2008 season kicks off this week. Looking to shake up your routine with a night at the opera but not sure which show is for you? Prep for your big night out (or just spend a night at home on the couch) with music from the Library.
Lyric Opera of Chicago 2008/2009 Season:
Manon by Massenet - Available on DVD and CD
The Pearl Fishers by Bizet - Available on CD
Lulu by Berg - Available on DVD and CD
Porgy and Bess by Gershwin - Available on CD (alternate CD)
Madama Butterfly by Puccini - Available on DVD, CD and downloadable format
Tristan und Isolde by Wagner - Available on DVD, CD and downloadable format
Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni and Pagliacci by Leoncavallo - Available on DVD and CD (Cavalleria, Pagliacci)
The Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart - Available on DVD and CD
Chicago Opera Theater 2008 season:
Don Giovanni by Mozart - Available on DVD in many editions and also on CD
A Flowering Tree by Adams - New opera, not available as a recording
Orlando by Handel - Available on CD
April is National Poetry Month
Posted April 24, 2008
Come celebrate National Poetry Month at the Chicago Public Library! Join us this Saturday, April 26 for our ninth annual Poetry Fest, a free festival of poetry readings, workshops, performances and discussions at Harold Washington Library Center. This year we are very excited to welcome Charles Simic, poet laureate of the United States, for a reading co-sponsored with the Poetry Foundation in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at noon. Simic immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia as a teen and lived in and around Chicago during the 1950s. He’s published 18 books of poetry and has received many awards from the Pulitzer to a MacArthur Fellowship. A book sale and signing will follow the reading. Other Poetry Fest events include:
Dear World: The Lively Art of Writing Letter Poems with Alice George
Poetry Cram: An Open Mic hosted by C.J. Laity
Poetry Wheel: A Demonstration and Open Mic with the Poets’ Club of Chicago
Performance of Poetry: A Workshop with Coya Paz
The Book of Green: a poetry video by Mary Russell and Gerard Wozek
Pre-Teen Book Club: A Don’t Bump the Glump! Shelebration
The Poetry Center of Chicago’s 14th Annual Juried Reading
Also, check out databases and websites specializing in poetry, and upcoming poetry events at Chicago Public Library, featured on our Poetry Resources webpage.
The Fair of the Book and the Rose
Posted April 23, 2008
In Spain each spring, mostly in and around the city of Barcelona, they celebrate the feast day of St. George on April 23 with a festival known as “The Fair of the Book and the Rose.” St. George (Jordi in Catalan) is mostly known for the mythical story of slaying a dragon, but he is also the patron saint of Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain. While most of the world’s lovers give roses on St. Valentine’s Day, since the 15th century they have been exchanging them on St. Jordi’s day in Barcelona, apparently due to a part of the dragon-slaying legend that says that blood from the slain dragon splashed on the ground and sprouted into a rosebush. St. George then plucked a rose and gave it to the fair damsel that he had just saved from being dragon dinner. The Catalans, with a love of literature and a good party, have mashed together the Saint’s day with a celebration of books due to the death on April 23, 1616 of two of world’s most beloved authors: Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Barcelonans stroll the hundreds of bookstalls that spring up along their city’s beautiful streets, buying books and roses to bestow on their loves. According to Unesco, over 400,000 books are purchased in Barcelona on St. Jordi’s Day, along with 6 million roses. Traditionally, a woman would give a book to a man, and he will in turn give her a rose. In recent years, Catalan women decided the men were getting the better end of the deal, and now both partners exchange books. The women still get the roses, though.
National Library Week Videos
Posted April 17, 2008
It’s not too late to put on a party hat and celebrate National Library Week! Go to your local library and take a minute to savor the very fact that this institution exists. Where else can you imagine you would be able to find shiny new bestsellers, action-packed DVDs, volumes of love poetry, a CD of your favorite band, an audiobook version of a new thriller and a book on how to train your poodle? And all for free! Not to mention that the library is a great place to hang out, check your email, ask a reference question and read the latest issue of People magazine. On this 50th anniversary of National Library Week, we would like to share a couple of videos from the website of American Libraries (the magazine of the American Library Association). We think they are a unique, not to mention entertaining, salute to libraries.
DIY Film Fest: Raymond Chandler
Posted April 15, 2008
Continuing our salute to One Book, One Chicago author Raymond Chandler, we suggest that you settle onto a comfy couch for your own Chandler film fest. Most of the movies listed would fall into the film noir category: dark, gritty crime dramas with femmes fatales and conflicted heroes. Chandler’s writing works well on film, due to his iconic characters, moody settings and slick hand with dialogue. His novels and those of contemporary Dashiell Hammett set the tone for virtually every private eye in print or on celluloid that followed. A famous quote by Chandler on the subject of writing gives a good idea of what to expect: “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.”
Movies based on Chandler’s books:
The Long Goodbye
This 1970s update of our One Book selection was directed by Robert Altman and takes a LOT of liberties with the novel. More of a movie about the detective genre, this is not a film for noir purists, but it’s still of interest for Chandler fans.
The Big Sleep
Arguably the best of the Chandler adaptations, this is also one of the best of the noirs, period. Humphrey Bogart plays P.I. Philip Marlowe to perfection, and the chemistry between him and Lauren Bacall crackles.
Murder, My Sweet
Based on Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely, this film finds Marlowe working for a thug named Moose Malloy who is looking for his girlfriend. Dick Powell was a surprising choice for this role, as he was known mostly for musicals before this, but he is a very convincing Marlowe.
Although he didn’t write the book, Chandler owns the movie version of the noir classic about a woman who suckers an insurance agent into taking care of her husband. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck both turn in stellar performances.
Strangers on a Train
Working from the excellent source material of Patricia Highsmith’s twisty novel, and directed by the unparalleled Alfred Hitchcock, Chandler worked on the screenplay of this story about two men who meet on a train and hatch the plans for a couple of perfect murders.
Harold Washington’s Legacy
Posted April 10, 2008
April marks two occasions for us to celebrate Harold Washington. April 15 we can remember the late mayor on what would have been his 86th birthday. But first we’ll commemorate the 25th anniversary of his election as mayor on Saturday, April 12. In honor of the historic date, the Chicago Public Library will hold a symposium moderated by CBS2 reporter Derrick Blakely and featuring keynote speaker Gary Rivlin, author of Fire on the Prairie: Chicago’s Harold Washington and the Politics of Race. The event, co-sponsored by the Harold Washington Commemorative Year, will feature a panel of Washington-era “insiders.” They will be sharing some of their favorite memories as well as discussing Washington’s legacy. Sounds like a terrific way to honor the memory of a man who left a lasting impression on our city. Many Chicagoans will surely remember what an exciting and tumultuous era that was, but for those who don’t, we have some suggestions to help you brush up on your Chicago history:
Bashing Chicago Traditions: Harold Washington’s Last Campaign, Chicago, 1987 by Melvin G. Holli and Paul M. Green
The Making of the Mayor, Chicago, 1983 by Melvin G. Holli and Paul M. Green
“Harold”: the People’s Mayor: an Authorized Biography of Mayor Harold Washington by Dempsey J. Travis
Harold!: Photographs from the Harold Washington Years photographs by Antonio Dickey and Marc PoKempner; text by Salim Muwakkil
Pulitzer Prizes 2008
Posted April 8, 2008
The Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced. (That’s pronounced “PULL it sir,” if you were wondering, according to the official Pulitzer site.) The Fiction Prize was awarded to Junot Diaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a novel that has previously garnered much acclaim, including an award from the National Book Critics Circle. The other finalists for fiction were Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson and Shakespeare’s Kitchen by Lore Segal.
Of local interest, Chicago playwright and actor Tracy Letts has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County (as predicted by the Chicago Sun-Times). The play had a smash run at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago before going to Broadway, where it has become a huge hit. Also, the Chicago Tribune nabbed a prize for Investigative Reporting “for its exposure of faulty governmental regulation of toys, car seats and cribs, resulting in the extensive recall of hazardous products and congressional action to tighten supervision.”
In what may be a first, two Poetry Prizes were awarded: Time and Materials by Robert Hass and Failure by Philip Schultz. Also, a Special Citation was awarded to Bob Dylan “for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” Some highlights of the rest of the awards:
The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 by Saul Friedlander
What Hath God Wrought: the Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe
Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson
Baseball is Back!
Posted April 1, 2008
Opening Day is the real first day of spring for baseball fans, who start to long for a trip to the ballpark, despite the temperatures outside. If you can’t brave the cold bleachers, or just plain can’t get tickets, the Library has some great baseball books and movies to tide you over. One of our favorite baseball films, Bull Durham, stars Kevin Costner as a nearly washed-up minor league catcher and Susan Sarandon as a woman who takes a special interest in young ball players. Their romance is so tied up with their romance with the game, that it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins. Another baseball picture starring Costner is the sentimental Field of Dreams, about a man who hears voices that tell him to build a ballpark in the middle of the cornfields in Iowa. This field is a special, magical place for second chances, and dead ballplayers from the past walk through the corn to have another chance to play the game they love. Finally, on the movie front, a classic choice might be the tearjerker Pride of the Yankees, starring Gary Cooper as legendary hitter Lou Gehrig, who was tragically lost to the game when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
If you want to read about baseball, the Library has put together a list of fiction and nonfiction books about the game. One good place to start might be any of the terrific short story collections of W.P. Kinsella, most of which revolve around the great American pastime.