Critic’s Choice

Thu Feb 15, 2018 at 1:35 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

"Abelard and Heloise Surprised by the Abbot Fulbert" by Jean Vignaud, 1819.
“Abelard and Héloïse Surprised by the Abbot Fulbert” by Jean Vignaud, 1819.

The Newberry Consort has come up with a typically thoughtful concept for Valentine’s week, one that should appeal to romantics and cynics alike.

Beginning Friday night, the Consort will present a program centered on the famous–and famously doomed–love affair of Pierre Abélard, the 12th-century poet and philosopher, and his brilliant student, Héloïse D’Argenteuil. Forced to live apart, the duo corresponded voluminously for decades in loving epistles that have become celebrated through the centuries. “Forbidden Love: The Passion of Héloïse and Abélard” will offer musical settings of courtly love poetry from the 14th century by Machaut, Cordier, Senleches and others, in addition to dramatic readings from the lovers’ letters.

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday at the Newberry Library, 8 p.m. Saturday at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts, and 3 p.m. Sunday at Northwestern University’s Galvin Recital Hall in Evanston.


Vocal recitals are becoming as scarce a commodity in Chicago as a choice between two parties on a voting ballot.

Fortunately, the University of Chicago Presents series is offering one such event Sunday afternoon. Making a rare stateside appearance, acclaimed German tenor Christoph Prégardien will perform a program of infrequently heard Schubert lieder with pianist Julius Drake 2 p.m. Sunday at Mandel Hall.

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