And the 2012 summer schedule, just announced, is no exception.
On the other hand, few big-money U.S. summer music festivals can match Ravinia for sheer quantity and variety of attractions. With the CSO settling into its 77th annual residency at its warm-weather retreat in Highland Park, and an almost-nightly array of concerts, Ravinia again promises more than enough music and dance to keep the box office busy throughout the summer.
The 15-week festival, spanning more than 100 classical, pop, jazz, country, folk and dance events, will run June 7-Sept. 9 at verdant Ravinia Park.
Ravinia won’t be celebrating any composer anniversaries this summer (Wagner and Verdi must wait their turn in 2013), but the 35th anniversary of James Conlon’s Ravinia debut will be marked with a number of interesting events.
The music director, whose contract has been extended through 2014, will bring another pair of Mozart operas to Ravinia’s Martin Theatre, with semi-staged concert performances of “Idomeneo” and “The Magic Flute” concluding the CSO residency on Aug. 16-19.
(Ravinia does not appear to be fazed by the fact that both Lyric Opera and Chicago Opera Theater are staging their own productions of “Magic Flute” this season.)
Conlon also will take charge of the latest entry in his “Breaking the Silence” series of forgotten works by composers banned during the Third Reich – Kurt Weill’s first stage work, “Magical Night,” in the U.S. premiere of the complete 1922 score. A children’s pantomime, the piece survived in incomplete form until the original instrumental parts were discovered in a Yale University vault in 2005. The mime troupe T. Daniels Productions will join Conlon and CSO members for the July 19 performance in the Martin Theatre.
Broadway and Ravinia favorite Patti Lupone and opera diva Patricia Racette will headline the annual gala benefit evening, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Ravinia’s women’s board. Conlon and Rob Fisher will share baton duties for that July 21 event.
Making their Ravinia podium debuts with the CSO will be Jaap van Zweden, July 7; and Gianandrea Noseda, Aug. 2. Steven Reineke will direct an all-American pops program with the CSO on July 4; soprano Ashley Brown (currently starring in “Show Boat” at the Lyric) is the soloist. Richard Kaufman will front an orchestral pops concert of his own, headlined by veteran vocalist Barbara Cook, on July 15.
Returning will be former Ravinia music director Christoph Eschenbach, who will conduct an all-Brahms program on July 13, followed by Dvorak and Korngold on July 14. He also will partner baritone Matthias Goerne in a recital of German lieder July 16.
John Axelrod will lead Holst’s “The Planets” – this year’s “One Score, One Chicago” component of Ravinia’s Reach-Teach-Play education programs – on July 31. Also returning will be conductor Marvin Hamlisch, who will partner vocalist Idina Menzel (star of “Wicked” and “Glee”) for a CSO concert on July 8.
Other Martin Theatre recitals will be given by singers Kiri Te Kanawa (Aug. 14), baritone Gerald Finley (Aug. 9) and Stephanie Blythe (July 2); guitarist Angel Romero (July 8); and pianists Denis Matsuev (July 30); Vladimir Feltsman (Aug. 15) and Misha and Cipa Dichter (July 29). Composer and pianist Philip Glass will join violinist Timothy Fain for a concert in honor of his 75th birthday (June 23).
Among the instrumental ensembles appearing at Ravinia this summer will be the Emerson (July 6), Tokyo (July 24) and Juilliard (Sept. 6) string quartets; a sextet including violinist Miriam Fried and pianist Leon Fleisher (June 21); and the Zukerman Chamber Players (June 26).
The successful series of $10 classical concerts in Bennett Gordon Hall will continue with recitals by violinist Rachel Barton Pine; pianists Jade Simmons, Daniil Trifonov, Sara Davis Buechner, Inon Barnatan and Orion Weiss; and cellists Zuill Bailey, Wolfgang Schmidt and Johannes Moser. The series also will include five performances by participants in Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute.
CSO soloists will include pianists Gabriela Montero, Sean Botkin, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yefim Bronfman and Matsuev; violinists Joshua Bell, Nicola Benedetti and Erik Schumann; cellist Leonard Elschenbroich; and soprano Nicole Cabell.
Dance events this summer include an original work set to Claude Debussy's “Clair de Lune” June 7 and 8, what's described as a jazz-oriented visit from River North Dance Chicago Aug. 21 and a return of “Botanica” by the veteran dance-visual art ensemble Momix Aug. 28.
New this summer will be a revamped website – ravinia.org – and a new smartphone application that will guide concertgoers around the park and even enable them to locate friends amid the picnicking throng on the lawn. In addition, patrons will find that the north parking lot has been extensively renovated.