A Lot of Classical Music and Opera to Hear This Season

The coming classical music season has an unsettled quality, a sense of a culture trying to orient itself in the midst of crisis. You can detect in the offerings bottled-up energy from a long dormancy; wariness about the continuing health and financial effects of the pandemic; pressure, in the wake of protests against racial injustice, to demonstrate that a hidebound art form can become truly more diverse.

All of the following information, of course, is subject to change; check vaccine and masking requirements before you go.


PARK AVENUE ARMORY The restored period rooms at the Armory, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, have turned out to be ideally intimate spaces for recitals — which return with the youthful tenor Paul Appleby and the pianist Conor Hanick (Sept. 20 and 22); the baritone Will Liverman and Myra Huang (Oct. 10-11); and the commanding mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and Warren Jones (Nov. 19 and 21).

JOSQUIN AT 500 In honor of the Renaissance master Josquin des Prez, the most influential composer of his time, Gotham Early Music Scene and the conductor Harold Rosenbaum have organized an endeavor of delightful and perhaps foolhardy ambition: open-participation performances of the complete Josquin catalog, over 14 Tuesday evenings. (Through Dec. 7, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Manhattan)

TAKA KIGAWA This thoughtful pianist returns to one of his signatures, mid-20th-century modernism, with a program including études by Ligeti and sonatas by Boulez: the epochal, fiendishly difficult Second and a version of the unfinished Third. (Sept. 22 at Le Poisson Rouge, Manhattan)

‘FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES’ For its reopening after the long pandemic closure, the Metropolitan Opera has made a historic choice: its first work ever by a Black composer. Vastly belated, it will still be a celebratory occasion when the composer and jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard, best known for his wry and powerful scores for Spike Lee films, takes a bow for his adaptation of the New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s memoir about his traumatic upbringing. Kasi Lemmons wrote the libretto for the work, which premiered in St. Louis in 2019; Will Liverman, Angel Blue and Latonia Moore star; James Robinson and Camille A. Brown direct; and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the company’s music director, conducts. (Sept. 27-Oct. 23 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

‘BORIS GODUNOV’ The velvet-toned bass René Pape, who took the crushing title role when the Met’s production of this Mussorgsky opera had its premiere back in 2010, returns to it, conducted by Sebastian Weigle. (Sept. 28-Oct. 17 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)


CARNEGIE HALL The season at America’s pre-eminent concert hall opens on Oct. 6 with the conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the star of New York’s musical fall, and his Philadelphia Orchestra, with Yuja Wang playing Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 alongside works by Bernstein, Valerie Coleman and Iman Habibi. And also Beethoven — the Fifth Symphony — to kick off the Philadelphians’ months-spanning, five-concert cycle of the symphonies, delayed from 2020. (In yet more concerts at Carnegie, the orchestra plays Barber, Florence Price and more Coleman in February and Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis” in April; Wang plays a solo recital at the hall on April 12.)

COLLABORATIVE WORKS FESTIVAL The sensitive tenor Nicholas Phan, the artistic director of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, has organized the song festival “Strangers in a Strange Land,” which explores issues of migration and includes Nico Muhly’s cycle “Stranger.” (Oct. 6-9 in Chicago)

DANISH STRING QUARTET This ensemble, renowned for performances of polished intensity, turns to Schubert in a new project, “Doppelgänger,” which pairs that composer’s quartets with new works. The first juxtapositions, which the Danes will perform for Cal Performances, are the late Quartet in G and a piece by Bent Sorensen (Oct. 10); and the “Death and the Maiden” Quartet and one by Lotta Wennakoski (April 29). (Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, Calif.)

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC After opening its season with two pianists — Daniil Trifonov, then Yefim Bronfman — the Philharmonic and its music director, Jaap van Zweden, continue with a third: Leif Ove Andsnes, who has made the subtly progressive choice to precede Robert Schumann’s classic concerto with Clara Schumann’s solo Romance in A Minor (Oct. 14-16). Other highlights of the orchestra’s season — performed at venues including Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall while David Geffen Hall is renovated — include Anthony Davis’s 2011 clarinet concerto “You Have the Right to Remain Silent” (Oct. 20-23); Susanna Malkki leading Branford Marsalis in John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto (Jan. 6); Julius Eastman’s “Symphony No. II,” part of a two-week festival of long-marginalized identities (Feb. 3 and 5); Santtu-Matias Rouvali conducting as the soprano Golda Schultz sings Strauss’s “Brentano-Lieder” (Feb. 17-19); and a Schumann symphonies cycle with Gustavo Dudamel (March 9-12 and 17-20).

‘FIDELIO’ San Francisco Opera is celebrating not only its return to live indoor performance this fall, but also a landmark: In Eun Sun Kim, it has the first female music director of a major American opera company. She leads Beethoven’s classic with a fine cast, including Elza van den Heever, Russell Thomas and Greer Grimsley, in a staging by Matthew Ozawa, who directed the drive-in “Barber of Seville” with which the company returned this spring after 16 months. (Gustavo Dudamel will also conduct “Fidelio” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in April, a collaboration with Deaf West Theater.) (Oct. 14-30 at War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco)

PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE Best known for music from before the 19th century, this orchestra and choir, based in San Francisco and now led by Richard Egarr after the decades-long tenure of Nicholas McGegan, turns to two underplayed works by Robert Schumann: his mellow Requiem and his spirited violin concerto. (Oct. 14-17 at Bay Area venues)

NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Performances of the elegant work of the 18th-century composer Joseph Boulogne, also known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges and one of the earliest Black composers still played widely, have proliferated in recent years. The superb violinist Augustin Hadelich plays one of his concertos with this perpetually underrated orchestra, alongside a Boulogne overture and pieces by Beethoven. The conductor is the period specialist Nicholas McGegan, but the ensemble’s music director is Xian Zhang, who leads most of the season’s programs. (Oct. 14, 16 and 17 in Newark and Morristown, N.J.)

SPHINX VIRTUOSI The signature chamber orchestra of the Sphinx Organization, devoted to fostering racial and ethnic diversity in classical music, arrives in New York with a program that includes works by Xavier Foley, Guido López-Gavilán, Andrea Casarrubios and Jessie Montgomery — and, as soloists, the cellist Thomas Mesa and the bass-baritone Davóne Tines. (Oct. 15 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

‘TANNHÄUSER’ Wagner’s sprawling (and expensive to produce) operas are even more difficult to mount than usual this year for American companies emerging from their long breaks with a wary eye on their budgets. So Los Angeles Opera deserves kudos for pressing ahead with plans to produce this shining, moving tale of the battle between the sacred and the profane. Conducted by James Conlon, the cast includes Issachah Savage, Sara Jakubiak and Lucas Meachem. (Oct. 16-Nov. 6 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles)

‘EL/AFICIONADO’ Enigmatic, espionage-adjacent narratives long fascinated the composer Robert Ashley, and inspired this opera for four voices and a prerecorded electronic orchestra, which will be performed for the first time in over 25 years. Kayleigh Butcher, Bonnie Lander, Paul Pinto and Brian McCorkle are the vocalists, with Tom Hamilton, a close Ashley collaborator, in charge of music direction and sound design. (Oct. 21-23 at Roulette, Brooklyn)

ANGEL’S SHARE The impresario Andrew Ousley has proved adept at finding unlikely spaces for musical performances; he made his name with a series of intimate, charmingly creepy concerts in a crypt beneath a Manhattan church. Calling his venture Death of Classical — a wink toward the ever-present claims of the art form’s demise — he then expanded to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where he will present Cantori New York in an outdoor, candlelit performance of Fauré’s Requiem. (Oct. 21-23.)

TENET Opening its season Oct. 23 with a tribute to the English composer Robert Fayrfax, who died 500 years ago, this superb early-music vocal ensemble later presents Handel’s “Messiah,” Charpentier’s “Les Plaisirs de Versailles” and evenings devoted to the work of Michael Praetorius, Heinrich Schütz and Thomas Tomkins. (St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church, Manhattan)

‘DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG’ Antonio Pappano, the longtime music director of the Royal Opera in London, returns to the Met for the first time since 1997 to lead Wagner’s huge, humane comedy. The cast is first-rate: Michael Volle, Klaus Florian Vogt, Lise Davidsen, Paul Appleby, Johannes Martin Kränzle and Georg Zeppenfeld. (We are, however, still eagerly awaiting a replacement for Otto Schenk’s mustily realistic production, now almost 30 years old.) (Oct. 26-Nov. 14 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

CHARMAINE LEE This vocalist, who plays with improvisation, amplification and distortion in a style that tends to turn aggressively expressionistic and guttural, performs solo as well as with the violist Joanna Mattrey (who will also play on Nov. 4 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as part of her residency at Issue Project Room) and the cellist Lester St. Louis. (Oct. 27 at Roulette, Brooklyn)

GEORGE LEWIS With its ornate home in Downtown Brooklyn still in the midst of a long-term renovation project, Issue Project Room presents four recent electroacoustic works by this pathbreaking composer at the Clemente on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The pieces use software to fundamentally alter the sound of flute, cello, bassoon and violins. (Oct. 29)

CINCINNATI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Even with the resumption of live performances, the pandemic’s impact on culture is far from over: Ensemble Intercontemporain’s fall residency with this orchestra, led by the inspiring conductor Louis Langrée, has been scratched because of travel restrictions. But other highlights of the Cincinnati season remain, including performances of Andrew Norman’s 2014 piano fantasia “Suspend” (Oct. 29-30) and William Dawson’s 1934 “Negro Folk Symphony” (Jan. 8-9). (The Dawson is also on the schedule at the Chicago Sinfonietta, which is testing an innovative pay-what-you-can program this year.)

DETROIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA In the wake of the broad calls for racial equity over the past year, many classical institutions are programming works by Black composers this season. But few are doing it with the depth of this ensemble — which already had a notable commitment to diversity before 2020. One October program brings the premiere of “Amer’ican,” by James Lee III (Oct. 29-31); other Black composers on the calendar include Jessie Montgomery, Jeff Scott, Florence Price, William Dawson, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, William Grant Still, Joel Thompson, Joseph Boulogne and Wynton Marsalis (whose Tuba Concerto also premieres at the Philadelphia Orchestra in December). (Orchestra Hall, Detroit)

LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC Fresh from conducting the triumphant premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s opera “Innocence” this summer, Susanna Malkki leads this orchestra in the first American performances of Saariaho’s “Vista,” a highlight of the Philharmonic’s characteristically rich and venturesome season. (Another must-hear: a June program that includes a new work by Angélica Negrón and the “Afro-American” Symphony of William Grant Still.) (Oct. 29-31 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles)


NORTH CAROLINA SYMPHONY Now this is programming: Two evergreen orchestral suites, Ravel’s “Mother Goose” and Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” are paired with a third, Mary Lou Williams’s resurgent “Zodiac,” which straddles classical and jazz styles and will be performed with a trio led by the pianist Aaron Diehl, who performed excerpts from the piece with the New York Philharmonic earlier this year. (On Nov. 21 Diehl plays Bach, Bud Powell’s “Bud on Bach” and Roland Hanna’s 24 Preludes — another blur of genres — in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where the Attacca Quartet does works by Haydn, Caroline Shaw and Paul Wiancko, and arrangements of Flying Lotus, on Nov. 7.) (Nov. 5-6 in Raleigh, N.C.)

PARTHENIA VIOL CONSORT Opening its season with a program of Venetian Renaissance music, this fine ensemble is joined by the soprano Sherezade Panthaki. (Nov. 11 at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, Manhattan)

JACK QUARTET Unmatched in skill and intensity in the most densely virtuosic contemporary music, this ensemble delves this year into the work of composers with whom it has closely collaborated. First, on Nov. 12 at the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center in Asheville, N.C., comes the premiere of John Luther Adams’s sixth quartet, “Waves and Particles.” Then, on Jan. 7 at Roulette in Brooklyn, JACK plays a program of John Zorn’s antic, often ferocious music. New works by George Lewis, Khyam Allami and Patricia Alessandrini are on the program on April 21 at Merkin Concert Hall in Manhattan. (And in March the quartet’s cellist, Jay Campbell, joins the composer Inti Figgis-Vizueta in California for an evening of new work with the LA Phil New Music Group.)

DANIIL TRIFONOV This extraordinarily gifted and intelligent pianist — who in October releases “The Art of Life,” an album of music by members of the Bach family and composers they admired — plays in recital Prokofiev’s “Sarcasms,” Debussy’s “Pour le Piano” and two Third Sonatas: Szymanowski’s (restless) and Brahms’s (sprawling). (Nov. 17 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

THE ORCHESTRA NOW The conductor Leon Botstein, who has long done heroic work bringing little-known music to a wider audience, leads this talented training ensemble in a program that includes George Frederick Bristow’s Symphony No. 4 (“Arcadian”), from 1872, alongside Julia Perry’s 1951 Stabat Mater and a premiere by Scott Wheeler. (A May 12 concert includes works by William Grant Still — “Dismal Swamp,” an evocation of the life of escaped slaves — Carlos Chávez, Lutoslawski and Karl Amadeus Hartmann.) (Nov. 18 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

‘LIAISONS’ This ongoing project, conceived by the pianist Anthony de Mare, has corralled notable composers to arrange for him solo-piano versions of Stephen Sondheim songs. This season he plays selections from the growing catalog and new transcriptions by Timo Andres, Ted Hearne, Meredith Monk, Paola Prestini, Conrad Tao and others. (Nov. 18 and March 26 at Merkin Concert Hall, Manhattan)

THE CROSSING Few musical organizations generate as much new work while performing at as high a level as this choir, directed with tremendous distinction by Donald Nally. Their program “Motion Studies” includes works by Justine F. Chen (based on Jena Osman’s poem about surveillance), Nicholas Cline and Gabriel Kahane. (The group’s Month of Moderns festival, in June and July, unveils large-scale works by Marcos Balter and David Shapiro, as well as a program featuring Chaya Czernowin, Aaron Helgeson and Tawnie Olson.) (Nov. 21 at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia)

‘EURYDICE’ Sarah Ruhl and the young but accomplished composer Matthew Aucoin have turned her poignantly loopy play about the Orpheus myth and the death of a parent into a playful, wistful opera; after a premiere run in Los Angeles just before the pandemic, it arrives in New York. The conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, takes on his second 21st-century work in as many months, a sign that this is not your grandmother’s (or even your mother’s) Met. Mary Zimmerman’s winsome production stars Erin Morley and Joshua Hopkins as the central lovers, as well as Jakub Jozef Orlinski, Nathan Berg and, as a screeching Hades, Barry Banks. (Nov. 23-Dec. 16 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

JUILLIARD STRING QUARTET To celebrate its 75th anniversary, this ensemble presents a program that shows off its skill in repertory old and new: Beethoven’s Op. 130 quartet — including both its published finale and the “Grosse Fuge” that originally ended it — alongside two Jörg Widmann works it inspired. (Nov. 30 at Alice Tully Hall, Manhattan)


ANDY AKIHO Known for music of frisky energy, this composer unveils work on a new scale for him: “Seven Pillars,” an evening-length, 11-movement piece for the quartet Sandbox Percussion, in a staging by Michael Joseph McQuilken under the auspices of Emerald City Music in Seattle. (On May 5 in New York, Imani Winds presents Akiho’s “Be-longing,” a meditation about immigration issues for wind quintet, other instruments and audience participation.) (Dec. 3-4 in Seattle and Olympia, Wash.)

NEW ENGLAND PHILHARMONIC Music director searches at orchestras tend to be secretive; few, inside or outside an ensemble, usually know for sure who’s even in the running. But this group in Boston, which punches well above its weight in adventurous programming, is throwing a rare ray of sunshine on the process, publicly naming its four finalists, each of whom will get a concert this season: Adam Kerry Boyles (Dec. 5), Nicholas DeMaison (Feb. 26), Tianhui Ng (May 1) and Yoichi Udagawa (June 18).

RANDALL GOOSBY This thoughtful young violinist, joined by the pianist Zhu Wang, plays standards by Mozart and Franck alongside recent discoveries by Florence Price at the 92nd Street Y (Dec. 9) and Merkin Concert Hall (May 24). (The cellist Seth Parker Woods and the pianist Andrew Rosenblum also play Price at the Y, alongside works by Mendelssohn, George Walker, Schumann and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, on Oct. 30.)

CLAIRE CHASE This pioneering flutist’s “Density 2036” project, aiming at nothing less than the creation of a new repertoire for her instrument, presses on with the premiere of new works by Ann Cleare, Matana Roberts, Lu Wang and Bora Yoon. (Dec. 9-11 at the Kitchen, Manhattan)

CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER The society’s main-stage programming at Alice Tully Hall this season is startlingly conservative, with just two out of the almost 100 works on offer by living composers, and nothing written in the 21st century. (The repertory is more varied in its series in smaller Lincoln Center venues.) But this concert of solo works by Bach — not living but always worthy — should be a highlight; it includes works for violin, lute, piano, cello and organ, in this case the seldom-heard instrument at Tully. (Dec. 10 and 12 at Alice Tully Hall, Manhattan)

SO PERCUSSION Dominic Talifero — known as Shodekeh and billed as a beatboxer, vocal percussionist and breath artist — joins this new-music quartet for his “Vodalities: Paradigms of Consciousness for the Human Voice.” It will be presented alongside works by Nathalie Joachim (who sings, too), Caroline Shaw and Jason Treuting, with two other eminent guests: the soprano Dawn Upshaw and the pianist Gilbert Kalish. (Dec. 11 at Zankel Hall, Manhattan)

THE KNIGHTS Conducted by Eric Jacobsen, this intrepid chamber orchestra gives a rare performance of a symphony by the 19th-century American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk (his Second, “À Montevideo”), alongside works by Jessie Montgomery, Schubert and Vaughan Williams. (Dec. 11 at the 92nd Street Y, Manhattan)

‘COBRA’ Could there be a more festive and lively holiday tradition in the making than this? John Zorn’s 1984 “game piece,” a controlled improvisation in which the players are cued by cards and gestures, is performed by an ensemble of experimental-music stars, including the guitarist Mary Halvorson, Zeena Parkins (on electric harp and keyboards), the electronics artist Ikue Mori and, as prompter, Zorn himself. (Dec. 15 at Roulette, Brooklyn)

CONRAD TAO This composer and pianist offers a characteristically rangy program, including works by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Fred Hersch, John Adams, Jason Eckardt and himself. (Dec. 18 at the 92nd Street Y, Manhattan)

MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA In his 19 years as this ensemble’s music director, Osmo Vanska has been an inspired leader of all kinds of repertoire. But his specialty is the work of his fellow Finn Jean Sibelius — a festival devoted to whom is the highlight of Vanska’s final season in charge. All seven of the symphonies will be played over three weeks, as well as the Violin Concerto — in both its revised and rarely played original forms. (Another Sibelius cycle, to be led by Thomas Dausgaard with the Seattle Symphony over the next two seasons, begins in February and will juxtapose the classic works with new ones.) (Dec. 31-Jan. 16 at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis)

‘RIGOLETTO’ When Bartlett Sher’s production of this Verdi classic premiered in Berlin two years ago, Joshua Barone wrote in The New York Times that it was “coherent and at times unexpectedly affecting” — and a definite step up from the Vegas-neon staging it had already been tapped to replace at the Met. Yet Sher’s concept, which sets the tragedy of a court jester and his naïve daughter amid Weimar-era decadence, still clearly had room to deepen, which it may have time to do in rehearsals in New York. Quinn Kelsey, his baritone irresistibly smoky, takes on the title role. Piotr Beczala is the caddish Duke of Mantua, and the exquisite soprano Rosa Feola is the innocent Gilda. Daniele Rustioni conducts this winter run; the opera comes back in the spring with new performers. (Dec. 31-Jan. 29 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)


PROTOTYPE: OPERA THEATER NOW This festival, celebrating its 10th season and organized by Beth Morrison Projects and the arts organization HERE, has grown from an upstart presenter of scrappy music-theater works to a force: Two pieces it presented in recent years went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Its coming offerings will include a mass vocal event, “The All Sing,” by Daniel Bernard Roumain and Marc Bamuthi Joseph; “The Hang,” about the death of Socrates, with book and lyrics by Taylor Mac and music by Matt Ray; a double bill of character studies with music by Emma O’Halloran and libretto by Mark O’Halloran; “Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville,” a concert work about marijuana by Grace Galu; and “Book of Mountains and Seas,” a reflection on nature by the composer Huang Ruo and the director and designer Basil Twist. (Jan. 7-16)

IGOR LEVIT As penetrating a musician as exists today, this pianist brings a pensive program to New York: six Brahms organ chorale preludes, transcribed by Busoni; Zoltan Kocsis’s arrangement of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” Prelude; a premiere by Fred Hersch; and Liszt’s Sonata in B minor. (Levit joins the New York Philharmonic on May 6 for Brahms’s Concerto No. 1.) (Jan. 13 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

‘PROVING UP’ Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new music director, Enrique Mazzola, begins his season with Verdi’s “Macbeth,” but it’s a heartening sign of his commitment to contemporary work that he will also be leading this beautifully bleak chamber piece by Missy Mazzoli, from 2018, about surreal suffering on the American frontier. (Jennifer Koh plays the first performances of Mazzoli’s Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra in February and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in March.) (Jan. 22-30 at the Goodman Theater, Chicago)

SONYA YONCHEVA This passionate soprano, who has had coups at the Met in “La Bohème,” “La Traviata,” “Otello,” “Luisa Miller” and “Iolanta,” is rewarded by the company with a solo recital on its stage, joined by the experienced pianist Malcolm Martineau. (Jan. 23 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

‘PENELOPE’ André Previn’s final work — a monodrama, with text by the playwright Tom Stoppard, about the patient heroine of Homer’s “Odyssey” — was completed after his death, in 2019, and now has its New York premiere. The protagonist is starrily divided between a soprano (Renée Fleming) and a speaking actress (Uma Thurman), who are joined by the Emerson String Quartet and the pianist Simone Dinnerstein. (Jan. 23 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

MUSICA VIVA Joel Thompson’s choral work “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” — which set the final words of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and five other Black men killed during encounters with the police — was written in 2014, but it has found new listeners over the past year. This wide-ranging ensemble will perform it alongside works by Bach, Abbie Betinis and Shelley Washington. (Jan. 23 at All Souls Church, Manhattan)

AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Our leading reviver of rarities, the conductor Leon Botstein, led this orchestra in 2013 in a revealing staging of Sergei Taneyev’s grand opera “Oresteia,” little done since its 1895 premiere. So there will be extra interest in these forces’ performance of Taneyev’s final major work, the massive, gaudy cantata “At the Reading of a Psalm.” (March 24 brings a rich, important program of Duke Ellington’s music for orchestra — originally scheduled for March 12, 2020, and thus one of the first pandemic cancellations.) (Jan. 28 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)


HEARTBEAT OPERA This scrappy company, which specializes in daring rearrangements of classic works, revives its moving 2018 adaptation of Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” which set the opera in a contemporary prison and included the recorded voices of choirs from Midwestern correctional facilities. (Feb. 10, 12 and 14 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan)

YEFIM BRONFMAN One sign of the slow but continuing incorporation of the reclusive Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006) into the repertoire: One of her sonatas appears on this distinguished pianist’s recital alongside staples by Beethoven and Chopin. (Feb. 18 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

ROTHKO CHAPEL In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, filled with a suite of paintings by that artist, Tyshawn Sorey has been commissioned to create a new work inspired by, and played in, the space. Sorey is also looking to the meditative “Rothko Chapel” (1971) by Morton Feldman, one of his major compositional influences, and will echo its instrumentation — soprano, alto, mixed choir, percussion, viola and celesta — in his own premiere. (Feb. 19-20)

LOS ANGELES MASTER CHORALE Conducted by this excellent ensemble’s associate artistic director, Jenny Wong, this program juxtaposes a set of works by Reena Esmail, whose music draws from both Indian and Western classical traditions, with Frank Martin’s grand Mass for Double Choir. (Feb. 20 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles)

VIKINGUR OLAFSSON No program has yet been announced for this recital from a pianistic master of sparkling, unexpected juxtapositions — whose recent recordings have skipped among Minimalism, Impressionism and the Baroque — but buy your tickets anyway. (Feb. 22 at Zankel Hall, Manhattan)

JORDI SAVALL This illustrious gambist, one of early music’s great maestros, brings his ensembles Le Concert des Nations and La Capella Reial de Catalunya to New York for two evenings. The first concentrates on Monteverdi’s madrigals of love and war; the second, on works by French composers like Marais, Rameau and Rebel. (Feb. 22-23 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY Esa-Pekka Salonen’s first season as this orchestra’s music director last year didn’t go quite as planned. But he’ll lead some ambitious programs this season to begin his tenure in earnest. In late February and early March, a two-week festival explores the myth of Prometheus, including Beethoven’s “The Creatures of Prometheus” and the premiere of Fang Man’s “Song of the Flaming Phoenix” for sheng and orchestra. And in June, Salonen and a longtime collaborator, Peter Sellars, offer a semi-staged production of Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex” and “Symphony of Psalms.” (Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco)

TRINITY WALL STREET Their peerless “Messiah” will remain on pandemic pause, but Trinity’s orchestra and choir, under Julian Wachner, return slowly to live performance with programs including Craig Hella Johnson’s new oratorio “Considering Matthew Shepard” (Feb. 24-March 1) and Bach’s mighty “St. Matthew Passion” (March 29 and 31). (The Orchestra of St. Luke’s follows with its own “Matthew Passion” at Carnegie Hall on April 7.)

VIENNA PHILHARMONIC Valery Gergiev is this storied ensemble’s leader on a three-day stand at Carnegie Hall, including an evening of Rachmaninoff (the Second Piano Concerto, with Denis Matsuev, and the Second Symphony); a garishly colorful program of Debussy, Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov; and a juxtaposition of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony. (Gergiev returns to Carnegie in May for two nights with his Mariinsky Orchestra.) (Feb. 25-27 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

MUSIC BEFORE 1800 Among the highlights of this invaluable early-music series are the ensemble Piffaro, with an exploration of 16th-century Spanish-Flemish connections around the time of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Feb. 27); and Blue Heron, with works by Johannes Ockeghem (May 8). (At Corpus Christi Church, Manhattan)

‘DON CARLOS’ It has long been a favorite at the Met in Italian, with over 200 performances as “Don Carlo,” but the company has until now never done Verdi’s work in its expressive original French. This new production is David McVicar’s 11th at the house, and stars Sonya Yoncheva, Matthew Polenzani, Elina Garanca, Günther Groissböck and Etienne Dupuis; Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. (Feb. 28-March 26 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)


‘STEEL HAMMER’ As part of Julia Wolfe’s stint this season in the Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall, this oratorio about the legend of John Henry will be performed on March 3 at Zankel Hall, the site of its 2009 premiere, by the Bang on a Can All-Stars ensemble. (That group returns on May 19 for Wolfe’s “Anthracite Fields,” a piece about the coal industry last heard at Zankel in 2018.)

‘ARIADNE AUF NAXOS’ The Met hasn’t performed this exquisite Strauss opera, a reflection on music, myth and love, since 2011. It’s an ideal vehicle for the young but full-voiced soprano Lise Davidsen, who is joined by Isabel Leonard, Brenda Rae and Brandon Jovanovich; Marek Janowski conducts. (March 1-17 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

LEONIDAS KAVAKOS Among the highlights of this violinist’s Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall this season is a program of Beethoven trios with his frequent and friendly collaborators: the pianist Emanuel Ax (who also plays a solo recital of late Chopin at the hall on April 28) and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma. (March 8)

BEATRICE RANA Not shying from daunting standards, this pianist plays Chopin’s four Scherzos, the first book of Debussy’s Études and Stravinsky’s dazzling arrangement of three movements from “Petrushka.” (She also makes her New York Philharmonic debut with Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in June.) (March 9 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

JUPITER Thomas Dunford, an ebullient lutenist, leads his ensemble Jupiter and the agile mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre in works by Vivaldi — who is also the star of an Apollo’s Fire concert at Zankel Hall on March 24. (March 10 at Weill Recital Hall, Manhattan)

‘RODELINDA’ Harry Bicket is masterly at turning the Met’s sumptuous orchestra into a sinewy Handel band. After “Agrippina” just before the pandemic, he returns with this moving work, starring Elza van den Heever in the title role, Jamie Barton, Iestyn Davies, Anthony Roth Costanzo and Paul Appleby. The grand production brings Zeffirelli-style scenic heft to the Baroque. (Van den Heever also appears in recital at Carnegie Hall on April 7, and Bicket brings his English Concert there for Handel’s “Serse” on May 8. And there’s more Handel on the West Coast: The Philharmonia Baroque stages “Radamisto,” starring Davies, April 20-24 at Stanford University.) (March 11-31 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

MARK PADMORE AND MITSUKO UCHIDA These two hauntingly sensitive artists come together for a program of songs by Beethoven (including “An die ferne Geliebte”) and Schubert (“Schwanengesang”). (And on March 25, Uchida joins the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie for two Mozart concertos.) (March 13 at Zankel Hall, Manhattan)

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA One of America’s mightiest ensembles comes to New York for two programs under Andris Nelsons. The first features Unsuk Chin’s recent Violin Concerto No. 2, “Scherben der Stille,” with Leonidas Kavakos, and Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique”; the second is a concert performance of Berg’s scorching opera “Wozzeck,” starring Bo Skovhus and Christine Goerke. (March 14-15 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

DAVÓNE TINES With a penetrating voice and smoldering presence, this bass-baritone reinvents the traditional Mass, with nods to music past and present, including works by Caroline Shaw, Bach, Margaret Bonds, Julius Eastman and spirituals reimagined by Moses Hogan and Tyshawn Sorey; Tines is joined by the pianist Lester Green. (March 15 at Sixth & I, Washington)

LONG BEACH OPERA With a fresh artistic leadership team, this unorthodox company in Southern California has conceived a rich spring season, including a staging of Stockhausen’s brooding, a cappella “Stimmung” (March 19-27); an adaptation of Handel’s “Giustino,” including new music by Shelley Washington (May 21, 22 and 28); and a new production of Anthony Davis’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Central Park Five,” which had its premiere with the company in 2019 (June 18, 19 and 25).

AMERICAN COMPOSERS ORCHESTRA The violinist Jennifer Koh gives the New York premiere of Lisa Bielawa’s concerto “Sanctuary” on this program from a creative ensemble, alongside works by Anna Clyne, Paula Matthusen, Hannah Kendall and Dai Wei; Marin Alsop conducts. (March 25 at Zankel Hall, Manhattan)

‘EUGENE ONEGIN’ Even the Met’s stuffy production can’t derail the power of Tchaikovsky’s harrowing tale of love and regret, which returns starring Ailyn Pérez, Igor Golovatenko and Piotr Beczala, conducted by James Gaffigan. (March 25-April 14 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)


‘ELEKTRA’ Nina Stemme, nearly 60 and still singing with ease and power, returns to the Met after almost six years to reprise the title role in Strauss’s savage family tragedy. Donald Runnicles, terrific in opera but a rare presence at Lincoln Center, conducts a cast that also includes Lise Davidsen and Michaela Schuster. (April 1-20 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

AMERICAN CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA This experienced period-instrument ensemble closes its season with an underplayed Bach work: the Easter Oratorio, in which the four vocal soloists all play characters from the Bible, as in a passion play. (April 5 at Alice Tully Hall, Manhattan)

JOYCE DIDONATO Mother Earth is on the mind of some of our leading divas. In the fall, Renée Fleming releases the album “Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene,” a collaboration with Yannick Nézet-Séguin. And on April 23, this star mezzo-soprano comes to New York with “Eden,” a staged recital with an eclectic program, including works by Handel, Ives, Gluck and Mahler, among others. Maxim Emelyanychev conducts Il Pomo d’Oro, and Marie Lambert directs. (Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

‘LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR’ Simon Stone, who has brought an almost surreally naturalistic style to theater (“Yerma”) and opera (“Innocence”), makes his Met debut staging Donizetti’s tragedy about a Scottish girl driven mad by a forced marriage. Nadine Sierra sings the title role, alongside the spectacular tenor Javier Camarena and the baritone Artur Rucinski; Riccardo Frizza conducts. (April 23-May 21 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

‘TURANDOT’ After opening in the fall with Christine Goerke in the title role of the princess whose icy heart is melted by love, this Puccini classic returns starring Anna Netrebko. Yonghoon Lee sings “Nessun dorma” and Ermonela Jaho, a star elsewhere who has barely appeared at the Met, is the devoted, doomed Liù. (April 30-May 14 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)


SHEKU AND ISATA KANNEH-MASON These two siblings, both charismatic musicians — Sheku is a cellist, who makes his New York Philharmonic debut in November; Isata, a pianist — combine forces in a recital featuring intense works by Beethoven, Shostakovich, Bridge and Britten. (May 4 at Zankel Hall, Manhattan)

OSVALDO GOLIJOV This composer was one of the most celebrated stars in classical music around the turn of the millennium. Then came a long, unexpected drought, a decade of near silence. But the David Grossman book “Falling Out of Time,” about mourning the loss of a child, finally inspired him, and he has returned with an 80-minute song cycle for an unusual ensemble, including pipa, kamancheh, sheng and electronics, which has its New York premiere, featuring musicians of the Silkroad Ensemble. (May 6 at Zankel Hall, Manhattan)

‘HAMLET’ Even the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy is fractured in this strange, stormy Shakespeare adaptation from the composer Brett Dean and the librettist Matthew Jocelyn, a tense study in mourning that arrives at the Met with a wide-eyed Allan Clayton in the title role. He is joined by Brenda Rae, Sarah Connolly, Rod Gilfry and the veteran John Tomlinson as the chilling Ghost; Nicholas Carter conducts, and the staging, with the singers’ faces caked in ghostly white, is by Neil Armfield. (May 13-June 9 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

‘X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X’ It was clear that Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit was serious about innovation when it hired as its new artistic director Yuval Sharon, who broke new ground in experiential opera with his Los Angeles company the Industry. One of the highlights of his first season will be a rare revival of this 1986 opera by Anthony Davis, directed by Robert O’Hara (“Slave Play”) and starring the bass-baritone Davóne Tines, the artist in residence. (Even the standard repertory will get a twist: “La Bohème,” in April, will be directed by Sharon with its four acts played in reverse.) (May 14, 19 and 22 at the Detroit Opera House, Detroit)

JULIA BULLOCK Sumptuous of voice, with a keen sense of how art can help us understand the past and look toward the future, this soprano offers new works by women in this program, “History’s Persistent Voice,” presented under the auspices of the San Francisco Symphony — including Cécile McLorin Salvant, Pamela Z, Tania León and Jessie Montgomery (“Five Freedom Songs”). (May 17 at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco)

KARIM SULAYMAN This subtle tenor’s Schubert album, “Where Only Stars Can Hear Us,” was a highlight of 2020. Now he and the fortepianist Yi-heng Yang bring a concert version to New York. (May 19 at Weill Recital Hall, Manhattan)

‘AKHNATEN’ Philip Glass’s operas have been perhaps unlikely box-office hits at the Met in recent years, including a sellout run in 2019 for this meditation on an Egyptian pharaoh’s flirtation with monotheism. For its return, the countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo once again dons gold leaf and drops trou in the title role. The juggling-filled production is by Phelim McDermott; Karen Kamensek conducts. (May 19-June 10 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)

‘OTELLO’ Under its longtime music director, Franz Welser-Möst, the Cleveland Orchestra has been not just America’s most elegant symphonic ensemble, but also one of its premier opera bands, giving scintillating performances of works by Strauss, Janacek, Wagner, Dvorak and more. But together they’ve played relatively little of the standard Italian repertory, which will make this Verdi masterpiece a new challenge; Michael König, Tamara Wilson and Christopher Maltman take the main roles. (On June 1 the orchestra travels to Carnegie Hall with Schubert’s “Great” Symphony, the final work it played as a group before the pandemic lockdown, alongside George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 4, “Strands,” and, with Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2.) (May 21, 26 and 29 at Severance Hall, Cleveland)

‘THE RAKE’S PROGRESS’ A fine cast brings Stravinsky’s piquantly satirical yet affecting Neo-Classical opera back to the Met — including Ben Bliss, Golda Schultz, Christian Van Horn and Alice Coote. Susanna Malkki, much in demand, conducts Jonathan Miller’s coolly surreal production. (May 30-June 11 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan)


MET ORCHESTRA Returning to its customary Carnegie appearances after the end of the opera season, this ensemble shows off its chops in two programs under Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The first includes works by Strauss, Missy Mazzoli and Wagner (the first act of “Die Walküre,” with Christine Goerke, Brandon Jovanovich and Eric Owens); the second offers Berlioz, including opera scenes with Joyce DiDonato and the “Symphonie Fantastique.” (June 15 and 16 at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan)

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