Michael Kownacky

Program Host

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.

You can also hear Michael, along with his The Dress Circle co-host, on JazzOn2, every Wednesday evening from 7pm, eastern, for Strike Up the Band, a program celebrating the big bands and dance bands of jazz.

Ways to Connect

Detail of "The Trojan Horse" by Henri Paul Motte

Sunday, June 11 at 3:00 pm:  This week's Sunday Opera will feature the Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Hector Berlioz's epic "Les Troyens."   This grand opera is based on Virgil's "Aeneid," and the libretto begins with the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy and continues through to Dido's death and the impending destruction of Carthage.  

The Dress Circle on Sunday, June 11 (7 pm) will be featuring selections from five musicals that have played at London's Royal National Theatre.  Included will be Judi Dench in Sondheim's "A Little Night Music," Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls" with Julie Covington and Ian Charleson, Lerner and Loewe's "My Fair Lady" Starring Martine McCutcheon and Jonathan Pryce, Leonard Bernstein's "Candide," and Maria Friedman in "Lady in the Dark" by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin.  Also included will be selections from "Oklahoma!" featuring Hugh Jackman and Peter Poylcarpou.

  This week, we're delving into one of our favorite topics: American Musicals Performed in Foreign Languages. After we begin with "Schlittenfahrt," we'll turn to some other familiar songs sung in Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Japanese. Some of the shows included are BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, MAN OF LA MANCHA, THE DESERT SONG, SWEET CHARITY, GREASE, and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and more.

This week, we're delving into one of our favorite topics: American Musicals Performed in Foreign Languages. After we begin with "Schlittenfahrt," we'll turn to some other familiar songs sung in Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Japanese. Some of the shows included are BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, MAN OF LA MANCHA, THE DESERT SONG, SWEET CHARITY, GREASE, and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and more.

Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric Opera of Chicago as we present the first in this year's broadcast series, featuring Wagner's Das Rheingold. Tune in Sunday at 3 pm.

Cast:
Wotan: Eric Owens
Alberich: Samuel Youn
Loge: Štefan Margita
Fricka: Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
Fasolt: Wilhelm Schwinghammer
Fafner: Tobias Kehrer
Erda: Okka von der Damerau

May 21st
Fred Astaire's remarkable career lasted seven decades, and along the way, he performed with a great many partners. 

This week, we'll take a look at just a few of them in a program called "Fred Astaire in Duets." Several of those partners included are:  Adele Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, and Jane Powell. Join us to see who else got included!  

Our Sunday Opera this weekend takes you to Russia for music by Mikhael Glinka. Enjoy a full performance of A Life for the Tsar, followed by dances from Ruslan and Lyudmila. Michael Kownacky is your host for this afternoon of opera.

Air date:  May 14th

Over the years, there have been many musicals that have been performed in concert versions for a variety of reasons, often to raise money for charities. This week's program will be taking a look at four of these with the concert performances of NYMPH ERRANT, MACK & MABEL, SOUTH PACIFIC, and ANYONE CAN WHISTLE.

Many theatrical pieces have "interesting" scripts and librettos, and the first of our two operas on this week's Sunday Opera (5/14 at 3 pm) falls squarely into that category.  Bohuslav Martinu's incredibly atmospheric Julietta - A Dream Book tells the existential story of Michel (Ivo Zidek) who visits a seaside town in his dreams to find his obsession, Julietta (Maria Tauberova) only to keep losing her and finally deciding to remain trapped in his dreams in the hopes of eventually being with her.

The Dress Circle - Broadcast on  May 7th 

May has certainly brought us flowers to which anyone with an allergy can attest. It has also brought us our monthly program that looks at some of the openings each month. Our May shows include old favorites as well as some newer pieces such as ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, ME AND JULIET, FLAHOOLEY, MAME, and THE MAGIC SHOW.

It's a miracle for a musical to make it to the stage, and it's even more miraculous for a show to cross the Atlantic. We thought we'd take a look at some London shows that didn't make the trip in a new series we'll begin tonight by featuring four London shows that never made it to Broadway. They are: SHERLOCK HOLMES, KING, TESS, and CHARLIE GIRL.

Quite often, a composer's name is forgotten although his songs are cherished for a long time; Hugh Martin is one of those composers, and on tonight's program, we'll sample some of his well-known and lesser-known work from film, TV, and stage through shows like MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, HANS BRINKER, LOVE FROM JUDY, and HIGH SPIRITS.

Jacques Offenbach's opera The Tales of Hoffmann was his last work and was left incomplete at the time of his death.  As a result, it is often staged with many changes that are against Offenbach's wishes.  On this week's Sunday Opera at 3 pm, we'll be looking at this wonderful score as it was meant to be produced and featuring a stellar cast lead by Francisco Araiza as Hoffmann, Samuel Ramey as all four of Hoffman's evil foils, Anne Sofie von Otter as The Muse / Niklausse, Eva Lind as Olympia, Jessye Norman as Antonia, and Cheryl Studer as the treacherous Giulietta.

This week's program will once again wax nostalgic as we remember Gordon MacRae through his work in films like CAROUSEL, OKLAHOMA!, THREE SAILORS AND A GIRL, TEA FOR TWO, and BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON along with some of his pop recordings.  

Children performers are essential for many shows, and we'll be taking a look at some of these young actors through shows such as OLIVER!, ANNIE, FUN HOME, MATILDA,  FLOWER DRUM SONG, and SCHOOL OF ROCK.

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