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

We’re continuing with productions from England’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden on this week’s Sunday Opera (7/15 3:00 p.m.) with their production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Macbeth.”  Shakespeare’s tragic tale of unbridled ambition features Zeljko Lucic as Macbeth, Anna Netrebko as the tortured Lady Macbeth, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Banquo, Konu Kim as Malcolm, and Yusif Eyvazov as Macduff with Antonio Pappano leading the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House.  

We looked at music of George Gershwin last week on The Dress Circle, and this week (7/15 7:00 p.m.) we’ll concentrate on lyrics by his brother Ira but with composers other than George.  Those composers supplying the music for Ira include Kurt Weill, who got Ira to begin writing again after George’s death, Harold Arlen, Harry Warren, and Burton Lane.  

The Dress Circle is celebrating the life of George Gershwin this week (7/8  7:00 p.m.) as we approach the 81st anniversary of his untimely death on July 11, 1937 with a program of his lesser-known works with his brother Ira as well as with other lyricists.  Included will be songs from shows like 1925’s “Tip-Toes,” “Sweet Little Devil” from 1924, and “Primrose” written expressly for the London stage in 1924.  Although they were all well received, they have been forgotten.  

The Sunday Opera begins a series of productions from the UK this week (7/8  3:00 p.m.) with the world premiere of George Benjamin’s “Lessons of Love and Violence” which debuted at the Royal Opera House in May of this year.  

Join us as we travel to 17th century England this week (7/1 3:00 p.m.) in a production of Vincenzo Bellini’s “I Puritani” from the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Set during the English Civil War in 1640, the story deals with lovers caught in a web of intrigue, the sense of duty, and unrelenting loyalties.  The cast includes Albina Shagimuratova, Lawrence Brownlee, Adrian Sampetrean, and Lauren Decker with Enrique Mazzolla conducting.  

It's all about cinema nostalgia on this week’s Dress Circle (7/1  7:00 p.m.) as we sample some popular artists singing theme songs from some memorable films.  The vocalists include Doris Day, Cliff Edwards, Johnny Mathis, Peggy Lee, Bob Hope, and Mario Lanza, and some of film themes are “Dear Heart,” “Wild Is the Wind,” “Golden Earrings,” “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,” “Because You’re Mine,” and “Three Coins in the Fountain” just to name a few.  Don’t forget to look for us on Facebook as well as our own website at www.DCSRO.com for more information. 

The Sunday Opera continues with the 2018 season from the Lyric Opera of Chicago this week (6/24 3:00 p.m.) with Giacomo Puccini’s adaptation of a 1762 work by Count Carlo Gozzi, “Turandot.”  Originally, this story of a Chinese princess who asks riddles and beheads anyone who seeks her hand was, in turn, based on a 12th century Persian work, one of seven that corresponds with the seven days of the week, colors, and then known planets, was originally about “Turan-Dokht” or the daughter of Turan, a Russian or central Asian princess.  

We’re a bit late for Mother’s and Father’s Days, but we’re early for Grandparent’s Day, and it’s really never too late to celebrate “parents” and caregivers in any form.  We’ll do that on The Dress Circle this week (6/24 7:00 p.m.) as we turn to the musicals to take a look at some stage parents from shows like “Honk!”, “Falsettoland,” “Aida,” “Seussical,” “Earnest in Love,” and “Ragtime” with special appearances by Beniamino Gigli and Miss Bette Davis.  Join us to see if it’s true that “Parents Are People too.” 

We’ll travel to Sri Lanka for this week’s Sunday Opera (6/17 3:00 p.m.) and a production of Georges Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers” from the Chicago Lyric Opera.  This story of desire, friendship, and sacrifice which includes one of the most famous and beloved tenor/baritone duets, “Au fond du temple saint,” stars Mariusz Kwiecien, Matthew Polenzani, and Andrea Silvestrelli with Sir Andrew Davis conducting.  

The delightful stage output of Marvin Hamlisch is the subject of this week’s Dress Circle (6/17  7:00 p.m.)  as we look at songs from familiar shows like “A Chorus Line” (with songs from the Italian and Japanese original cast recordings), “They’re Playing Our Song” and “The Good-bye Girl” (both Broadway and West End casts), and “The Sweet Smell of Success.”  

This week’s Dress Circle (6/10) will begin at 8:00 because of the length of the opera.  Join us as we take a trip to the West End as we look at five “Recent and Current London Musicals.”   We’ll be sampling songs from “Calendar Girls,” a moving musical based on the charming film of the same name and starring some British favorites such as Claire Moore and Joanna Riding.  A revival of “42nd Street” is currently appearing at Drury Lane, and the original cast included Sheena Easton as Dorothy Brock.  

The second opera in Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle,” “Die Walkure,” is this week’s Sunday Opera (6/10 3:00 p.m.) from the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Wotan’s daughters, the Valkyries. are charged with determining who will live or die in battle, and when Wotan’s favorite, Brunnhilde, disobeys him and allows Siegmund to live, she is stripped of her powers, turned mortal, and encircled by a magic flame to remain in an enchanted sleep forever.   

June may not be bustin’ out all over, but it is certainly wet, and as we enter the month of June, this week’s Dress Circle (6/3 7:00 p.m.) will take a look at some of the shows that have opened this month.  The “summer” months are notoriously lean for Broadway openings, and June is the month of the Tony Awards, so shows generally don’t open then since they would have to be remembered for an entire year before voting occurs.  In any case, we will hear songs from musicals including “Godspell,” “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road,” “Seventeen,” the 1993 revival of “Chicago,”

The Lyric opera of Chicago continues their season on this week’s Sunday Opera (6/3 3:00 p.m.) with a tragic tale of callous privilege and contempt in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”  The cast includes Quinn Kelsey in the title role, and he’s joined by Rosa Feola as the infatuated Gilda, Matthew Polenzani as the feckless Duke of Mantua, and Alexander Tsymbalyuk as the treacherous Sparafucile.  Also in the cast are Zanda Svede as Maddalena and Lauren Decker as Giovanna.  Marco Armiliato conducts.  

An “all-star” version of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” to welcome the upcoming Princeton Festival production will air on this week’s Dress Circle (5/27 7:00 p.m.).   We’ll be playing a large percentage of this delightful score using the original Broadway cast, original London cast, the 1996 Broadway revival, and the film if time permits.  

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