The Haymarket Opera Company presents La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers

Photo by Flickr/ one2c900d:

This week I decided to research Rogers Park’s theater scene. As a neighborhood of Chicago, Rogers Park contributes to the city’s eclectic artistry in many ways, specifically in the form of opera.

The Haymarket Opera Company is a local group that Chicago cellist and viola de gamba player Craig Trompeter started in 2011. Trompeter felt that period operas were not properly represented among Chicago’s historical performances, so he quickly gathered with a few colleagues and held a fundraiser. His idea for a local 17th and 18th century- inspired opera came to life as a not-for-profit group named  Haymarket Opera Company. Its name comes from Chicago’s 1886 Haymarket riot and the 1705 King’s Theatre opening in London’s Haymarket District. It represents their dedication to both Chicago and the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. The company’s mission is to use a variety of period instruments, costumes, and vocal styles to perform operas from  the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment era.  On their website, the HOC describes their instrumentalists as, “not only specialists on their individual instruments, they are historians who recreate the sounds 17th and 18th century composers would have heard as they wrote.”

Their rendition of the opera clearly represents the time, as their vocalists are trained in historically informed practices of sound production, ornamentation, and diction and their orchestra consists of specialists in the field.

The HOC’s commitment to staying true to the ages they depict comes across not only through their sound, but also through their image. They evoke an artistry that takes their audience to the Age of Reason or the Enlightenment.

This weekend, HOC will be performing a story from Metamorphoses, an A.D. 8 Latin narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid. This weekend’s show La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers tells the story of the mythical musician Orpheus and his new bride Eurydice. As Eurydice suddenly falls to her death after a serpent’s bite, Orpheus follows her to Hades where he begs Pluto, ruler of the underworld, to let his wife come back to Earth with him. At last Orpheus’s singing convinces Pluto to set Eurydice free, but only under the condition that Orpheus will never turn to see his wife’s face. The music for La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers was composed by Marc- Antoine Charpentier in 17th century France.

The La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers will be running Feb 24 and 25 at 7:30pm at the Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave. To reserve tickets, purchase them online or call the Mayne Stage box office 773-381-4554.

Rogers Park’s Cultural Menu

Chicagoans know the Rogers Park neighborhood for its palpable diversity. Its diversity extends beyond its dwellers and shops and into the realm of food. Rogers Park dining captures the ethnicity a city like Chicago offers. If you’re looking for a Rogers Park meal to amuse your palate, this list of ethnic restaurants is sure to do the trick.

Royal Coffee

Photo by Flickr/ nate steiner: Royal Coffee is known for their dark Ethiopian Coffee.

6764 N. Sheridan

Royal Coffee is an authentic Ethiopian café famous for its coffee. It has been imported straight from Ethiopia and is sold by the bag. The coffee beans have been sundried by Ethiopian farmers, and baristas preserve the pure taste of the Ethiopian delicacy. The unblended coffee upholds the Ethiopian sincerity of the café. They serve  simple to lavish breakfasts, ranging from smoothies to an Ethiopian style dish of scrambled eggs with tomato, green pepper, onion, chile powder, and injera, which is a spongy yeast flat bread. For lunch and dinner, Royal Coffee offers salads and sandwiches along with more exotic entrées. They prepare dishes like fava beans and injera in beef stew. Vegetarians have plenty of options, such as their veggie plate of red lentils, split peas, gomen, potatoes, green beans and carrots. And at last, to soothe their customers’ sweet tooth, Royal Coffee serves ice cream and dessert crepes.

Jamaica Jerk

1631 N. Howard

Jamaica Jerk is a locally owned restaurant whose chefs pride themselves on their Jamaican and Caribbean food made from scratch. They modeled their interior with a wraparound gazebo facing a wall painted with water meeting sky. The design gives customers the illusion that they have gone somewhere warm, like Montego Bay, to set the mood for their Jamaican cuisine. Jamaican Jerk’s menu features food unfamiliar to the average Rogers Parker. They have pheasant with burning oak twigs, brown stew chicken, goat dishes, along with “festival,” which is fried sweet cornmeal dough, and grapenut ice cream.

Deta’s Café

7555 N. Ridge Road

Deta’s offers Mediterranean choices while somehow still making customers feel at home. The café is known for its familiar customer service. Deta, the owner, commonly asks her customers what they feel like eating. Most days she has three options: salad, bread, and a burek. A burek is  a thin pastry filled with onions and potatoes, spinach and cheese, or  beef and potatoes rolled into tubes. Sometimes she will make a special, like her peppers stuffed with beef, vegetables, and brown rice. Other times she’ll have dessert, like her grandmother’s recipe of honey and cream cakes.

Taste of Peru

6545 N. Clark St

Taste of Peru’s family restaurant provides Rogers Park with a Peruvian smorgasbord. The unique restaurant serves real Peruvian meals, landing it a segment on Diners, Drive ins, and Dives. Taste of Peru has a menu full of Peruvian food with images for descriptions. They serve a variety of seafood, paella anticucho, arroz con pollo, arroz con leche, chicken stew, and empanada along with many more ethnic dishes. And, as an addition to the friendly atmosphere, Taste of Peru hosts live music on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and the last Sunday of the month.

Edgewater Beach Apartments: A Past Revisited

As I shopped for apartments this weekend, I couldn’t help but picture myself in my dream apartment building- the famous “pink building” seen from Lake Shore Drive. The pink Edgewater Beach Apartments are planted on Sheridan Road between Foster and Bryn Mawr. To Rogers Park residents, the building stands tall to signal that they’re almost home from busy downtown. Although its address is actually in Edgewater, the Edgewater Beach Apartment building is also a staple for Rogers Park occupants and a historic remnant of North Chicago’s past life.

The Edgewater Beach Apartments opened in December 1927, as a part of the illustrious Edgewater Beach Hotel. The 1920s- inspired structures sat beside the shore of Lake Michigan. The hotel was formed in the shape of a “croix fourche” or forked cross. There were four bisecting wings laid out in an X design, so most rooms had a lake view. Benjamin Marshall designed the Edgewater along with other high class Chicago landmarks, such as The Drake and Blackstone hotels. He styled the Edgewater with  Spanish stucco and a pink exterior, making it easily visible and eminent.

The Edgewater Beach Hotel’s popularity skyrocketed in its first few years. It started with 400 rooms in the first X-shaped building when it was built in 1916, but the complex quickly expanded to include another 600 room building, what we now know as the Edgewater Beach Apartments, in 1922. A three- block beach promenade lined with alluring shops connected the two buildings.

The Edgewater Beach Hotel thrived on its grand quality and celebrity for many years. From the 1920s to 1940s, the Edgewater was one of the most prized places to be. Managers hired big bands to play for parties and guests’ entertainment. The most famous American figures, such as Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Babe Ruth, stayed at the Edgewater. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared at the hotel. The hotel manager was known for booking top names in entertainment, which became a major part of the Edgewater’s appeal. It was a musician’s dream to be booked at the Edgewater. And, staying at the hotel was a guest’s dream. Besides the lakefront set up, the hotel also provided a pool, a radio station, print shop, chocolate factory, a heliport, and a film studio. And to further secure the guests’ happiness, The Edgewater Hotel’s famous green carriages were always prepared to cart guests downtown.

In the 1950s, the Edgewater took a hit. Simply put, it couldn’t keep up with the times. Another influence on the drop of the Edgewater was Chicago’s decision to extend Lake Shore Drive north. Lake Shore Drive cut The Edgewater Beach Hotel from its most attractive feature- the lakefront. From there, the hotel faced a steady decline in popularity. The original owners sold it in the late 1940s. The new owners kept the hotel running until December 1967 when they abruptly shut it down. It was reopened as a dorm for Loyola University’s Rogers Park campus for a short time, but it was eventually demolished in 1970.

Now, The Edgewater Beach Apartments is the last structure standing on the original property. The 20-story apartment building has landed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. It houses 300 lavish apartments with many accommodations for its residents. Accommodations include:

  • 60-foot indoor pool
  • Party space
  • Weight and exercise rooms
  • Library
  • Craft room
  • 2-acre garden
  • Gazebo
  • Shops

They also offer a floor of guest apartments for rent. Residents view the lake, downtown Chicago, and the city’s northwest side from their windows. The Edgewater Beach Apartments are surrounded by a community of 1920s Art Deco style buildings. The community serves as a reminder of the glamorous life that once took place at the Edgewater.

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