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Recently Salon.Huffington/Slate-Gawker.Jezebel ran a piece claiming that the average Valentine’s day celebration costs upwards of $400 dollars. (XoJane was too busy live blogging a pill-popper’s death rattle, out fat-accepting Nomi Lamm and posting dispatches from asexuals who promote egregious footnote abuse to weigh in.)

To me such extravagance feels smarmy and overwhelming although I did just start Netflixing Gossip Girl for the first time and watching Blake Lively flit around the upper east side being hoarse and vaguely Grecian is enough to make Gandhi sneak out to buy a pair of Tori Burch flats. And I’m no Gandhi. (God, I say that all the time!)


Really though, the point of Valentines Day is not profligacy, the holiday’s purpose is much more exceptional, far more significant: Valentine’s Day’s sacred function is to allow me to buy as much glittery pink heart adorned clothing and jewelry as possible. Also to provide me with a blog topic and here we go.

Sure it’s Valentine’s Day but that doesn’t mean you have to go the expected route, reserving a table at Blackbird and burying your significant other under mounds of Margie’s Candies. Instead I’ve made you a list of personalized alternatives.

Valentine’s Day Roundup (Off the Beaten Path Edition)

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1. If you grew up wanting to star in (insert one) The Red Shoes/Save the Last Dance/Saturday Night Fever: This weekend River North Dance Chicago’s Harris Theater engagement offers two world premieres, "The Good Goodbyes" featuring choreography by RNDC Artistic Director Frank Chaves as well as the first U.S. commission by Italian choreographer and Artistic Director for Spellbound Dance Company, Mauro Astolfi, entitled "Contact-Me."

River North Dance Company member Lauren Kias says this weekend’s premieres are “based around love and passion.” Specifically, “Good Goodbyes” she says “is a warm and cheerful piece celebrating relationships we have with very special people in our lives. Sultry and romantic pieces by Sidra Bell and Frank Chaves, a comedic scat driven solo by Robert Battle and a intense suite of tangos choreographed by Ruben and Sabrina Veliz round out the six piece Valentines day performance.”
Visit to learn more.

Last year, Chicago Opera Theater asked locals a simple question: "Why do you deserve free tickets?" Those who best answered the question in video form on YouTube got just what they asked for -- free tickets.

The promotion was such a success (or maybe just a source of office entertainment), COT is bringing it back, this time with a new question: "How do YOU make opera less ordinary?” Submit your three-minute interpretation of one of the operas of COT's 2010 Spring Festival Season ("Jason," "Moses in Egypt," "Three Decembers" and "An Evening with Frederica von Stade") by April 9 for the chance to win two free subscriptions to the entire run. All submission details can be found here. Need inspiration? Check out the kick-off video below.

3 Things To Do Today

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grandslam.jpgWhat's this worth to you? (photo via ToughSledding)

Denny's Free Grand Slam Breakfast
6 a.m.-2 p.m. at Denny's nationwide
It's simple: Go to Denny's. Wait in a long, snowy line. Get a free Grand Slam breakfast, which includes two eggs, two pancakes and either two sausage links or two pieces of bacon. Repeat. The area restaurants closest to the city are in Oak Park (711 N. Harlem), Norridge (4609 N. Harlem) and Oak Lawn (9217 S. Cicero). See 'em all mapped here.

Opera Underground’s “Opera with a Twist”
6:30-9:30 p.m. at Faith & Whiskey; $30 in advance, $40 at the door
Who says opera and debauchery don't mix? This event, which helps support Chicago Opera Theater's Opera For All program in Chicago Public Schools, combines the two with a night of open bar, appetizers and a short performance from some of its Young Artists.

Love Fest
7-10 p.m. at Holiday Club; $20 in advance, $25 at the door
As with the other Nerds at Heart events, this fest at the Holiday Club allows you to show off your prowess at trivia quizzes and board games. You'll get the chance to win some especially nerdy prizes and, if you're lucky, you might find a date for Valentine's Day! Tonight's gay-centric gathering (tomorrow is hetero night) features dating-themed mini-performances from local singer Amy Armstrong and Ms. Bertha Mason (actor/chef Michael Bowen) of "Baking with Bertha." Admission price includes one cocktail.

Vote for the opera you want to see

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You, yes you, can pick which opera will be part of Chicago Opera Theater's 2011 spring season. Beginning today, voting is available for the "People's Opera."

General Director Brian Dickie has picked three operas to choose from: "The Magic Flute" (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), "Moscow, Cheryomushki" (Dmitri Shostakovich) and "Capriccio" (Richard Strauss).

Unlike democracy, however (well, sorta), you have to pony up for these votes. One dollar equals one vote — so you're donating to the cause and investing in your cultural experience. Voting lasts until 5 p.m. June 12, and the winning production will be announced this summer.

The first "People's Opera", launched during COT's 2008 Spring Season, raised over $47,000 for the company — and the winner, Rossini's "Mosè in Egitto," will be presented during the 2010 Spring Festival Season.

Last month, we told you about Chicago Opera Theater's YouTube contest, which offered free spring season subscriptions (up to a $570 value) to those who most creatively answered the question, "Why Do You Deserve Free Tickets to Chicago Opera Theater?"

The four winners were announced today, and we have to say, we agree with the selections. Check out the top vote-getter below, and view all the entries here.

Jealous? Tickets for the season are still available.

Turn on camera, win free opera tickets

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If you're like us, you've thought of going to the opera once or twice — just because it's something a cultured human being should experience every now and then, eh? — but then you saw the ticket prices. Mamma mia! That would cover, say, "Iron Man" 10 times in the theater and 25 times on pay-per-view!

Well, here's your chance to get a freebie. Not Lyric Opera but Chicago's other acclaimed opera company, Chicago Opera Theater, is offering free tickets for its 2009 Spring Festival Season (April 18-May 26) to the person who makes the best plea in a YouTube video. Just turn on the camera and answer the question "Why Do You Deserve Free Tickets to Chicago Opera Theater?" The contest started today, so be the first to state your case here.

Meanwhile, COT interns kicked-off the page with this innuendo-packed reel about their first time ...

Popera: Top 10 opera-pop culture moments

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Not a fan of opera? Operaphobes don't realize it, but arias and overtures turn up everywhere in pop culture: films, commercials, television, books and video games. Here are several examples how pop culture has embraced opera:

First up is "What's Opera, Doc?" Animation genius Chuck Jones creates his own cartoon opera from snippets of Wagner's "Tannhauser," "The Flying Dutchman" and "The Ring" cycle as Elmer Fudd tries to "kill the wabbit."

Check out the other nine while you're at it.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the - Opera - category.

- Openings and Closings - is the previous category.

- Parks - is the next category.

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