Let’s Hear it for the Girls

By Jessica Steinhoff | Madison Opera Photography by Shawn Harper
Jeni Houser as Lucia Ashton in “Lucia di Lammermoor.”

Those of us with “she/her” pronouns — and some of us with a more fluid gender identity — have spent centuries fighting for a place in both the limelight and the history books. These events showcase women who are not only at the top of their game but changing the rules of that game for the better. Now that’s a gift worth giving.


Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi

Stoughton Opera House, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.

If there were a “best use of the 2020 COVID lockdown” award, this pair’s new album, “They’re Calling Me Home,” would likely win it. Giddens’ phenomenal voice, which you may recall from the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, is on full display in this meditation on mortality featuring folk traditions from Ireland, Italy and the United States. stoughtonoperahouse.com

Snail Mail

Majestic Theatre, Dec. 8, 8 p.m.

Dubbed “an indie-rock prodigy” by Rolling Stone, 22-year-old Lindsey Jordan can turn crippling self-doubt into something bold and beautiful. Be among the first to hear Jordan and her touring rhythm section perform material from her latest lo-fi masterpiece, “Valentine.” majesticmadison.com

“A Madison Symphony Christmas”

Overture Center, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 4, 8 p.m., Dec. 5, 2:30 p.m.

There’s much to love about this annual holiday extravaganza, including a carol-filled finale where the audience sings along. One of this year’s highlights is Elizabeth Caballero, the globetrotting soprano who starred in Madison Opera’s “La Traviata.” madisonsymphony.org


Chelsea Handler

Orpheum Theater, Dec. 2, 7 p.m.

The “Chelsea Lately” star returns to stand-up comedy after spending much of the last few years on advocacy work concerning gun control, systemic racism and the Syrian refugee crisis. The tour’s title — “Vaccinated and Horny” — promises a raunchy good time, but don’t be surprised if she pokes fun at her activism, too. madisonorpheum.com

Theater and Dance

“The Taming of the Shrew”

American Players Theatre, Spring Green, through Nov. 14 

Five actors deliver just as much comedic punch as a full cast of 30 In this Shakespearean satire of social mores and gender roles. This feat largely belongs to director Shana Cooper, whose adaptation of the play reflects both Renaissance history and modern feminism. americanplayers.org

“The Nutcracker”

Overture Center, Dec. 17-24

Behold young Clara’s dreams about sugar-plum fairies, the evil Mouse King and her beloved Nutcracker at this Madison Ballet production featuring new choreography by artistic director Sara Steward Schumann, dancer Yu-Jhe Sun and the company’s two ballet masters. madisonballet.org

History and Visual Art

“When Women Ruled the World”

Overture Center, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.

UCLA professor Kara Cooney explores how Egyptian women wielded power and influence in ancient times for this National Geographic Live presentation. You’ll discover how Cleopatra, Nefertiti and other women remembered primarily for their beauty brokered deals with warlords and united fractured nations.

“Symbiosis: Art and the Community”

Communication, through Nov. 21

Nineteen visual artists who helped carry this nonprofit arts space through the pandemic display recent works in response to these trying times. The majority identify as female, making this a terrific opportunity to see what kinds of things local women consider to be muses. communicationmadison.com

“We Stand on Their Shoulders”

Wisconsin Historical Museum, through Dec. 31 

Learn how Wisconsin women clamored for voting rights in this eye-opening exhibit about the passage of the 19th amendment. historicalmuseum.wisconsinhistory.org

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