In what has become the most anticipated operatic event of the summer, the eighth annual Chicago Cultural Center summer opera is celebrating Mozart’s 250th birthday with his most magical and imaginative musical-theater piece, “The Magic Flute”—sung in English, but also saluting the city’s Silk Road Chicago initiative by elaborately drawing upon Kutiyattam, the Sanskit Theater of India as well as Balinese theater styles to convey a cross-cultural fable that should make the transition convincingly. Directed by Farley Richmond with Indian and Balinese-inspired costumes, props and production design by Loyce Arthur and featuring the New Millennium Orchestra under the direction of Francesco Milioto and the After School Matters/Sherwood Conservatory of Music Vocal Arts Ensemble under the direction of Nadine Gomes and Phillip Caldwell, the cast includes Lyric Opera baritone Levi Hernandez as Papageno, soprano Michelle Areyzaga as Pamina and New York City Opera Company tenor Darren Anderson as Tamino. Most of the free tickets for this production have been distributed, but there will be tickets available an hour before each performance on a first-come, first-served basis, and note that a special lunchtime “highlights” performance at noon on Friday at Millennium Park does not require tickets. (Dennis Polkow)
“The Magic Flute” plays Friday, noon-1pm, (highlights), Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square. Pritzker Pavilion, Michigan at Randolph; 7pm, August 7, 9 and 10; 3pm, August 13, Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, 78 East Washington, (312)742-8497. Free.