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Worldwide Performance Pieces

GAMBLIN' MAN
Based on Dostoyevsky's story of a lethal obsession, The Gambler was composed by the 26-year-old Sergei Prokofiev shortly before the Russian Revolution but wasn't staged at the Bolshoi until 1974. Now New York's Met produces the opera for the first time. The phantasmagoric sets and period costumes enhance the mood of 19th-century glamour and despair. Conductor Valery Gergiev captures Prokofiev's dazzling orchestration. And the cast?Royal flush: tenor Vladimir Galouzine in the title role, with Olga Guryakova as Pauline and Elena Obraztsova as Babulenka. Metropolitan Opera, March 19—April 7; 212/362-6000.

New York
THE MAKROPULOS CASE
Brooklyn Academy of Music, Feb. 11—17; 718/636-4100.

The wait is over for American audiences. The acclaimed production of Janacek's 1926 thriller first performed at England's 1995 Glyndebourne Festival Opera arrives stateside, with soprano Anja Silja in tow. Silja is the singer most identified with the notoriously difficult title role of the mysterious and immortal diva.

FRANCE MOVES
April 23—May 6; www.francemoves.com.
An unprecedented citywide festival of French contemporary dance presents the work of 10 choreographers. Twenty-seven-year-old Boris Charmatz makes his New York debut with Herses, a sensuous work for four dancers, and the more established Maguy Marin presents her stark Pour Ainsi Dire, which explores notions of time.

Chicago
DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER
Lyric Opera, Feb. 10—March 18; 312/332-2244.

Renowned director Nikolaus Lehnhoff returns to the Lyric to mount a new production of Wagner's tale, in which a mariner is condemned to wander for seven years until he is redeemed by the love of a faithful woman. Preeminent Wagnerian bass James Morris assumes the title role.

Houston
DON CARLO
Houston Grand Opera, April 20—May 5; 713/227-2787.

What better way to observe the 100th anniversary of Verdi's death than with a new production of one of the composer's greatest works?It starts with the power struggles between a father and a son. Throw in love and the Inquisition and you have, well, opera.

Fort Worth
VAN CLIBURN INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION
Bass Performance Hall, May 25—June 10; 817/738-6536.

Watch the world's fresh pianistic talent compete in hopes of launching major careers. The competition — in three phases — can get heated, and the jury's verdict is often controversial. Judge for yourself.

Los Angeles
JULIUS CAESAR
Los Angeles Opera, Feb. 23—March 10; 213/972-8001.

Countertenor David Daniels and soprano Elizabeth Futral star as the Roman emperor and the queen of the Nile in Handel's Baroque take on this tale etched in blood and sand.

Vienna
BILLY BUDD
Staatsoper, Feb. 12—May 14; 43-1/5144-47880.

Benjamin Britten's intense drama of good and evil on the high seas, based on the Melville novella, gains new life with an all-star cast that includes the dashing Dane Bo Skovhus as the innocent Billy and American bass Eric Halfvarson as his nemesis, the malevolent Claggart.

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