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Chuck Lavazzi

In my last symphony preview post, I gave you a glimpse at the upcoming Christmas concerts. This time, let's look at the post-Christmas action.

The Macy's Holiday Celebration concerts with the St. Louis Symphony have, of late, fallen into a pattern that's as familiar and cozy as a bulky red woolen sweater. This year, I'm happy to report, is no exception.

Looking for something different in holiday entertainment? Seriously consider "A Winter Fable," the current collaboration between Circus Flora and the St. Louis Symphony. It features great music by Steven Jarvi and the symphony—including some rarely played pieces by Ippolitov-Ivanov, Dvořák, and Janáček—and an impressive array of circus acts. It's major holiday fun.

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra will be delivering Christmas presents for St. Louis audiences throughout the month of December. Let's sneak downstairs and take a peek under the wrapping, shall we?

In the 1830 tragedy "Anna Bolena" ("Anne Boleyn"), the second of Donizetti's four operas dealing with Tudor England and a classic of the bel canto operatic style, the composer and his librettist Felice Romani put the title character through hell—and aren't that much easier on the singer playing the role. She's on stage for most of the opera (which, in the Lyric Opera of Chicago production that opened this past weekend, runs three and one-half hours with intermission), finishing up with not one but two "mad" scenes and an execution scene that is almost as harrowing.

If your only exposure to George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward's 1935 opera "Porgy and Bess" has been the tour of the cut down "Broadway" version that played the Muny this past summer or even the interesting but flawed Union Avenue Opera/Black Rep co-production from 2007, you'd probably be justified in wondering why this is considered a great American opera. The current Lyric Opera of Chicago revival of its 2008 production—which runs through December 20—demonstrates why.

As I said in my first symphony preview post this week, the main event at the St. Louis Symphony this weekend is Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Steven Jarvi is at the podium and the violin soloists—all drawn from the symphony string section—are Jessica Cheng (“Spring”), Angie Smart (“Summer”), Jooyeon Kong (“Autumn”), and Alison Harney (“Winter”). What I left out was any mention of the other two works on the program.

This weekend (December 5-7, 2014) the major work on the St. Louis Symphony program is the set of violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi known as "The Four Seasons." It's a popular work with performers and audiences alike. As I discovered in my research for this post, it also has a long and significant history with the SLSO.

Looking for a Thanksgiving weekend treat that avoids the teeming multitudes at the malls and movie theaters? Take my advice and head over to Powell Hall for a bracing concert of American music for this most American of holidays.

"An Experiment in Modern Music" was how bandleader Paul Whiteman billed the February 12, 1924 concert by his Palais Royal Orchestra at New York's Aeolian Hall. This weekend at Powell Hall, the St. Louis Symphony will recapture some of the excitement attendant on that legendary program.

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