The most popular summer festival in the world for well over a century has been the legendary Bayreuth Festival, the acoustically perfect theater that Wagner himself designed to present his music dramas that radically transformed all of Western culture, for better or worse. The waiting list there is more than a decade, but in a rare foray into concert opera, Carlos Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra will give us a Bayreuth on the Lake sampler of Chicago’s own as they perform a one-hour portion of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle that stands perfectly well on its own: Act I of “Die Walküre,” the act that introduces us to Siegmund (tenor Torsten Kerl) and Sieglinde (soprano Nancy Gustafson), who will become the parents of Siegfried, the hero of the epic, but which also introduces us to several dramatic themes and leitmotivs of the entire four-part music drama. Bass Kristinn Sigmundsson sings the role of Hundig and the Grant Park Orchestra is the summer moniker for the Lyric Opera Orchestra, which was the “star” of both the original 1996 Lyric “Ring” production, where the entire orchestra appeared on-stage at the very end of the cycle’s curtain calls to frenzied and deserved acclaim, and again in Lyric’s 2005 revival, alas, the last non-excerpted Wagner that was heard in Chicago, so kudos to Grant Park for quenching the thirst of Wagnerites at long last after this unfathomably long Wagnerian drought. If you’ve been intimidated by the length of Wagner’s works but have wondered what all of the fuss is about, this is a perfect no-risk opportunity to get your feet wet. While you may not go out and start a world war the way at least one of Wagner’s most notorious admirers did, rest assured, you’ll never be the same. (Dennis Polkow)
Free. 6:30pm, August 13, Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, (312)742-1938.