Die Frau Ohne Schatten Metropolitan Opera, Dec. 13—Jan. 17; 212/362-6000. Richard Strauss's fable of a "woman without a shadow" who must obtain one in order to be fully human gets a much-anticipated new production. American soprano Deborah Voigt heads the star-studded cast.
The Return of Ulysses New York City Opera, Oct. 27—Nov. 7; 212/870-5570. Monteverdi serves up the final chapters of Homer's Odyssey with Baroque splendor. After a 20-year absence, Ulysses returns to his homeland, casting rival suitors aside to reclaim both his wife, Penelope, and his throne. Director John Cox's staging promises to be suitably spectacular—modern sets offer a stark backdrop for elaborate costumes by Johan Engles.
Thérèse Raquin Dallas Opera, Nov. 30—Dec. 8; 214/443-1000. American composer Tobias Picker and lyricist Gene Scheer have set Émile Zola's novel of adultery and murder to music. It seems the 19th-century French novelist is on everyone's mind: an adaptation of the same book premieres at New York's Plymouth Theater this month, and a movie with Kate Winslet is in the works.
Ballet Nacional de Cuba Kennedy Center, Nov. 20—25; 800/444-1324. For the first time in two decades, the company that produces many of the world's principal dancers (among them legendary prima ballerina Alicia Alonso, now 80) arrives in the nation's capital. Performances include full-length ballet classics Giselle and Coppélia.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra 513/381-3300. All the rage in music circles, the dynamic Estonian-American Paavo Järvi makes his debut as music director and conductor of the nation's fifth-oldest orchestra. Highlights: The U.S. premiere of Erkki-Sven Tüür's Violin Concerto (Nov. 15—17), music of Estonian and Finnish composers (Nov. 30—Dec. 1), and Claude Debussy's celebrated Prélude à l'Après-Midi d'un Faune (Dec. 7—8).
L.A. Philharmonic 323/850-2000. Music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, guest conductor Quincy Jones, and soprano Audra McDonald kick off the season on October 3 with a gala tribute to Duke Ellington. A festival devoted to the music of love-him-or-hate-him Arnold Schoenberg follows. The iconoclastic composer's piano concerto is performed by soloist Emanuel Ax (Oct. 5—7).