➊ Grand Cochon, a heritage-pork cooking competition you might loosely translate as “Big Pig,” brings together, for the first time in Chicago, the winners of the 14 smaller regional competitions, which you might even more loosely call the Piglets, for the annual pork-off/hors d’oeuvre party finals. Attendees sample the entrants’ entries, alongside charcuterie, cheese, desserts and drinks. All the competition-relevant dishes involve family-farmed, happy-pig pork parts, many of the everything-but-the-oink variety. If you need a rooting interest, the favorite son of Chicago is Ricardo Jarquin of Travelle Kitchen + Bar. Oct. 1. 6 p.m. $150-$400. Morgan Manufacturing, 401 N. Morgan St.
➋ Over its six years of existence, Haymarket Opera Company has proudly carried the standard for baroque opera, selling enough tickets and drumming up enough interest that this fall, they have multiple competitors, in Lyric Opera’s current “Orphee et Eurydice” and the upcoming Monteverdi 450 triptych of operas at the Harris Theater. Rising to the challenge, Haymarket puts on its biggest show yet: “Ariane et Bachus,” the Ovid-based love story of characters known better in English as Ariadne and Bacchus, composed in the late 1600s by Marin Marais. It’s the company’s first time with a chorus and dancers, they commissioned the construction of a very rare bass violin for the orchestra, and, for the music nerds, they’re tuning to a historically accurate A392 instead of A440. Oh, and the opera has never been performed since its premiere in 1696, but that’s almost par for the course for Haymarket. Sep. 30-Oct. 3. $27-$87. Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave.
➌ The soprano Kathleen Battle, as renowned for her pearly, light voice as she is notorious for fulfilling her surname-prophecy by being hard to work with, tours a program of songs about the Underground Railroad through the Auditorium Theatre. Battle sang this same program in her return last year to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, her first visit since being fired from an opera in 1994 and banned thereafter. Apparently audiences, at least, have forgiven her, because reports said the applause was unflagging, except when Battle stopped people from clapping along during the singing. Sep. 30. $36-$111. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway.
➍ To put a back cover on the American Library Association’s end-of-SeptemberBanned Books Week, the website Third Coast Review and the live-lit series Kill Your Darlings puts on “Censored! We Read Banned Books,” where professors, editors and other lit lovers read aloud from the likes of prurient “Lolita” and “Tropic of Cancer,” violent “Lord of the Flies” and N-word-dropping “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The Public House Theatre donated the space and offers their full-service bar—putting the lit in live lit—and all proceeds go to the Illinois branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Oct. 2. 7 p.m. $10 suggested donation. Public House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark St.
➎ The composer David Lang, a Pulitzer Prize winner and cofounder of the playfully named new-music ensemble Bang on a Can, composed “Crowd Out,” a piece for a choir of 1,000 singers, performing outdoors. The experience of the piece comes as much in the preparation for the performance as the actual performance, as the singers form an ad hoc community, a principle taken to heart by the Chicago organizers, the flutist Tim Munro and the everywhere choral conductor Donald Nally. It’s too late to sign up for the chorus, but audience members can partake of the final bit of communitarianism by watching the performance at Millennium Park. Oct. 1. 3 p.m. Free. Chase Promenade, Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.
➏ The gallery Terrain Exhibitions, if you can call it a gallery given that it has no walls or ceiling, resides in a front yard in Oak Park, allowing art lovers to see the work on display any time of day or night they’re willing to make their way to the sidewalk frontage. For the Terrain Biennial, now in its third iteration, front yards, balconies and porches all over the country and the world—but primarily in Chicago and Oak Park—copycat the first Terrain and partner with artists to show weather-resistant art for a month and a half. The opening, which is called neither a reception nor a vernissage, is a block party from 2 to 7 p.m. on the 700 block of Highland Avenue in Oak Park. Oct. 1-Nov. 15. Free. Various venues.
➐ Before you do anything else, you should do something to help hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. After that, you can book your tickets to the first Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, a monthlong, premiere-filled 11-play fiesta subtitled “Destinos” (no relation to the pedagogical telenovela). Some highlights: A visiting Cuban company performs the U.S. premiere of the indigenous-music-inflected “The Mirror”; a Puerto Rican company stages the U.S. premiere of a new “Medea” informed by interviews with real-life murderers; a Mexican company’s “Amarillo” colors the new stage The Yard at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and the Chicago expatriate Tanya Saracho (“Our Lady of the Underpass”) brings her new play “Fade.” The theaters will supertitle in English for plays performed in Spanish. Sep. 29-Oct. 29. $15-$54 per show. Various venues.
➑ A Red Orchid Theatre, an ensemble comfortable with unsettling plays, opens a creaking door on its new season with “Evening at the Talk House,” a new play by Wallace “Inconceivable!” Shawn. Set in the dystopian future of a totalitarian country, the play shows theater folk, in a time where theater has nearly disappeared, reminiscing about a show they put on 10 years ago. Although totalitarianism hovers on the edge of artistic consciousnesses in these times, Shawn wrote the play more than two years ago, giving audiences a look back at an unimaginable future before people started imagining such futures all the time. Sep. 29-Nov. 19. $15-$35. A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Ave.
➒ Sure as a podcast feed keeps filling, the Chicago Podcast Festival returns for its second annual episode-filled episode, inviting podcast enthusiasts to live tapings, sometimes of multiple podcasts for the price of a single ticket. “Crybabies” (Oct. 7, 8 p.m.) a podcast about what makes people cry, headlines the festival, with Andy Richter (best known as Conan O’Brien’s sidekick) guest-hosting and the comedian Tim Meadows and the newsman and voice for hire Bill Kurtis revealing their tearjerkers. Other podcast-world-famous participants include “Up and Vanished” (Oct. 7, 7 p.m.), a “Serial”-season-one-like nonfiction podcast about a mysterious disappearance; “The Feed” (Oct. 3, 7 p.m.), the food podcast with food journalist Steve Dolinsky and chef Rick Bayless; and “Potterotica” (Oct. 5, 7 p.m.), a sarcastic dramatization of Harry Potter fan fiction. Not part of the festival but also noteworthy in the live-podcast sphere, “Pod Save America” hits the Chicago Theatre on its Pod Tours America tour Oct. 9. Oct. 2-8. $10-$40. Various venues.
➓ The Fulton Market Harvest Fest presents the usual cornucopia of street-party stuff—live music, kids’ area, food booths (albeit from uncommonly good restaurants such as Girl & the Goat, Swift & Sons and the Publican family)—but it also puffs out the foodie aspect of the fest like a great popover. A stage for cooking demonstrations runs during both days and has lined up some heavy hitters, such as Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan (also the curators of the festival), Rick Bayless, Sarah Grueneberg and Bill Kim. The fest also entails separately ticketed events, such as an Iron Chefs collaborative dinner/love-in at Monteverde to raise money for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, an oyster-shucking event at Cold Storage and a baking class where one of the instructors is the talented pastry chef Meg Galus. Sep. 28-Oct. 1. $30 street fest admission, $25-$195 per auxiliary event. Fulton Market between Halsted and Peoria Streets.
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