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Word is, there may be only one more season after this to enjoy Bowen Park Opera Company's fully costumed, creatively staged, and uniquely intimate productions on the tiny Goodfellow Hall stage. Once renovations are complete on Waukegan's Genesee Theater (a former movie palace), which will have room for an orchestra and chorus, the operas are likely to be staged there. Bowen Park did Mozart's Cosi fan tutte five years ago: there are all-new costumes and a new set for the production opening tonight. Dawn Riesing and Sara Stern are the wealthy sisters whose fidelity Jay Morrissey and Paul Scavone foolishly decide to test; it all plays out in English on a single day in late-eighteenth-century Naples. Music director Roger Bingaman provides the piano accompaniment. It starts tonight at 8 and continues with performances on Sunday at 3, on November 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 8, and November 15 at 2. Tickets are $19, $16 for seniors, students, and military personnel with ID. Goodfellow Hall is in the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, 39 Jack Benny Drive, Waukegan. Call 847-360-4740.


Some seven million migratory birds lay over in Chicago on their way south each year, and one of their favorite stopping points is the Lincoln Park Bird Sanctuary. Today's free Vote for the Planet festival will examine the links between Chicago and the South American rain forest and the environment's relation to science, art, politics, and spirituality. There will also be food, body work, and booths representing groups such as the Nature Conservancy. The festival starts at 1:30 and will be followed at 2:30 by a two-hour show with performances by Ed Tossing, Chris Garbrecht, Kirsten Gustafson, Charles Brown, the Joyful Noise Gospel Choir, and the Unity Puppet Players. It's all at Unity Church in Chicago, 1925 W. Thome, Chicago. The $10 admission to the show benefits the Lincoln Park Bird Sanctuary and the Audubon Society's rain forest program. Call 773-271-0986 or 773-973-0007 for more information.

Can peace be learned? The Hague Appeal for Peace, an organization of 1,000 nongovernmental organizations, is developing a curriculum for teaching peace skills worldwide and wants whichever of those sterling candidates we elect as president to establish a cabinet position for advancing peace. The last century was the "most violent century in history," says HAP president Cora Weiss, who thinks it's time to "prioritize peace as a national strategy." Weiss will speak tonight at the North Suburban Peace Initiative's annual dinner. The dinner begins at 6 at Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 584 Ninth in Wilmette; Weiss will speak at 7:30. Tickets are $50 ($20 for students) for the dinner and program. Tickets for the lecture only are $15. Call 847-475-3692.


Rising overhead and the increased market share of Internet business have forced many independent booksellers to close their doors, says Midwest Bookhunters president Henry Zuchowski. They're still doing business at book fairs, however, and the fairs are more important than ever as a chance for book lovers and dealers to get some face time. The Midwest Bookhunters Fall Book Fair, the first antiquarian book fair to be held in the northwest suburbs, brings 50 dealers selling antiquarian, rare, collectible, out-of-print, and used books, maps, prints, and pamphlets to William Rainey Harper College today. It runs from 10 to 5 in the Student and Administration Center (building A) at the college, 1200 W. Algonquin in Palatine. Admission is $6, $4 for students. A portion of the proceeds benefits Literacy Chicago. Call 773-989-2200.

Only 48.8 percent of the U.S. voting-age population participated in the 1996 presidential election. The other 51.2 percent can be parsed into six categories--"doers," "unpluggeds," "irritables," "don't knows," "alienateds," and "can't shows," say Ellen Shearer and Jack Doppelt in their 1999 book, Nonvoters: America's No-Shows. The last group, made up primarily of legal immigrants and convicted felons, is the only one with a legitimate excuse. The other five types will be the focus of today's Humanities Festival panel, Why Don't Americans Vote? Shearer, who codirects the Medill School of Journalism's Washington, D.C., program, will be joined by Chicago Reporter editor and publisher Laura Washington, former Clinton policy adviser Rahm Emanuel, and Joyce Foundation vice president Lawrence N. Hansen. Ken Bode, the dean at Medill, will moderate. It's at 3:30 at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark, Chicago. Tickets are $6. Call 312-661-1028, ext. 32, for more.


The title of David Drake's Obie-winning one-man play, The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, refers not to a romantic tryst with greatness but rather to the night Drake saw Kramer's play The Normal Heart, which he says opened his eyes and gave him a "kiss" of pride. But that doesn't mean Tim Kirkman's 1999 film based on Drake's 1992 play lacks for bawdy humor. It'll be screened tonight at 7 at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, Chicago, as part of Reeling 2000: The 20th Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival. Tickets are $7.50. After the film, at 8:30, a free discussion of gay theater in Chicago will be held a few doors down at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport, Chicago. Panelists include director Shifra Werch, playwright David Dillon, actor Benjamin Sprunger, set designer Rick Paul, theater critics Jonathan Abarbanel and Reader contributor Lawrence Bommer, A Real Read's Byron S. Stewart, and About Face Theater coartistic director Eric Rosen. Call 312-409-3191.


Can he pull through? Will Ralph Nader win 5 percent of the vote and secure public funding for the Greens' next presidential campaign? His supporters are optimistic; they've planned a victory party tonight at HotHouse, where they'll serve light snacks and watch the election returns on TVs set up in the club's gallery area. Green Party campaign workers are expected to report in from around town after the polls close. The alt-pop bands Volcano the Bear and Bablicon will play in the bar. It starts at 7 at 31 E. Balbo, Chicago. Admission is $4 or a price determined by rolling a six-sided die. Call 312-362-9707 for more.


Altars aren't just for churches anymore, say the organizers of Columbia College's current Altering Altars exhibit. Nontraditional objects of worship can be found on desks, dashboards, and, in the case of one artistic effort, a public telephone. The exhibit runs through November 21; tonight at 6 students and faculty present a related Day of the Dead-themed performance that includes film, video, and spoken word. The exhibit and performance are at Columbia's Hokin Center, 623 S. Wabash, Chicago (312-344-7696), and they're both free.


The city's stock of affordable rental housing is disappearing faster than you can say "stunning new construction," says the Chicago Rehab Network. Today, Cook County assessor James Houlihan speaks to the group on Valuing Affordable Housing and Property Taxes. Among the topics on the agenda are the city's CHAC program of low-interest loans for long-term residents of gentrifying neighborhoods and property tax breaks for developers of nonprofit multifamily housing. "That could be what it would take to create more affordable housing in the city," says a spokesperson for the network, which represents such community-based nonprofits as Lakefront SRO and Deborah's Place. Houlihan's talk will be followed by a discussion. It's from 8:30 to noon in the Wabash Room of the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe, Chicago. It's free; reservations are recommended (312-803-1312).

Five corporations control 80 percent of book sales in the U.S. Such consolidation poses a threat to the marketplace of ideas, especially when most smaller presses lack access to major distribution and publicity channels, argues Andre Schiffrin, author of The Business of Books: How the International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read. Schiffrin, who for 30 years was the publisher at Pantheon Books and now directs the New Press, will discuss four decades of changes in the publishing industry tonight at 7 at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th, Chicago. It's free; call 773-684-1300.

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