Classical Mondays Chicago Opera Theater Review – Bringing Poulenc to Life

Chicago Opera Theater’s Young Artists Bring Poulenc to Life is another Milestone in Chicago’s Classical Mondays Concert Series.


For those of us who remember when the Chicago Cultural Center’s Classical Monday series was once called “Vocal Journeys”, we were treated to a Ravinia mailer this week reminding us that a young Nicole Cabell once was a rising star in that performance venue.  This same week we met not just one, but eight young artists of the same caliber in the same hall and on that same trajectory of operatic brilliance.


This was the Monday April 15 Classical Mondays concert hosted by Chicago Opera Theater (COT).  The performers were members of COT’s performance based training program for young singers.   Titled “Airs chantés:  Songs of Francis Poulenc (1899 – 1963), the eight singers accompanied by two pianists delivered a sampling of Poulenc’s body of work in the year marking the 50th anniversary of his passing.


Most of the Poulenc pieces performed reflected the composer’s love of poetry and close personal relationships with famous poets of his time including Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Louis Aragon, among others. The selections also walked us through many of the milestones of Poulenc’s life, including his attempt to remain apart from the Vichy government and to honor those fighting fascism such as Federico Garcia-Lorca.   Poulenc is also recognized as the first openly gay composer on the world stage.  


The memorial program included:



Catherine Spitzer, soprano, three songs from “Airs chantés”



Matthan Ring Black, baritone, “Le Bestiaire or cortège d’Orphée



Megan Williams, soprano, selections from “Cinq Poèmes de Max Jacob”



Drew Ladd, tenor, “A sa guitare” and “Deux Poèmes de Louis Aragon”



Loren Battieste, baritone, selections from “Tel jour, telle nuit”



Louise Rogan, mezzo-soprano, “Trois Chansons de Federico Garcia-Lorca”


-and the ensemble performing the “Finale from Les Mamelles de Tirésias”


COT Director of Musical Studies and Assistant Professor of Opera and Vocal Coaching at Roosevelt University, Scott Gilmore, who coaches these young performers provided an introduction to each of the selections and the aspects of Poulenc’s life which inspired these works.  


This performance is one of many hosted by Chicago Opera Theater’s Young Artists Program which focuses its Education and Outreach program in a wide range of events for adults and children throughout the city.  


Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs Classical Monday concerts offer classical, chamber, and opera music in the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall.  These concerts are presented to the public at no charge.


Upcoming Classical Monday concerts include:


April 22:  Musicians Club of Women, Award Winners in Concert:  Alllison Wahl, coloratura soprano


April 29:  Korean GangNam Symphony Orchestra


May 6:  Chicago Chamber Musicians: Demarre McGill, flute/Meng-Chien Liu, piano


May 13:  Musicians Club of Women, Award Winners in Concert: Alice Chen, piano


May 20:  Anaphora Ensemble


For more information on the Classical Monday series see



For more information on Chicago Opera Theater’s Young Artists Program visit .


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