London The Car Man Old Vic. ; 44-207/369-1722. Matthew Bourne's Tony-winning Swan Lake caused a sensation in 1998 by casting only men to play the swans. Here, Bourne takes the opera Carmen ("Car Man," get it?), sets it in an auto-repair shop, and beefs up the plot with elements of film noir and 1960's French new-wave cinema.
The Mikado Savoy Theatre, through Jan. 13; 44-207/836-8888. In Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular operetta, the Japanese setting is merely a smoke screen for a witty parody of English mores. Nanki-Poo, the Mikado's son, agrees to be beheaded if he can be married to Yum-Yum for one month. The new production marks the operetta's return to the Savoy, where it premiered in 1885.
My Zinc Bed Royal Court Jerwood Theatre, through Oct. 28; 44-207/565-5000. David Hare directs the premiere of his own play in which a young poet, hired by an entrepreneur, pushes his luck by falling in love with his new boss's wife, played by Julia Ormond.
Napoleon Shaftesbury theatre, opens Oct. 17; 44-207/379-5399. The diminutive leader's life gets the song-and-dance treatment – from his first waltz with a young Josephine to the battle of Waterloo. Directed by the iconoclastic–and often controversial–Francesca Zambello.
New York The Seussical Richard Rodgers Theatre, opens Nov. 9; 212/307-4107. A musical based on the books of Dr. Seuss, with songs by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, whose Ragtime score earned them a 1998 Tony.
The Last of the Thorntons Signature Theatre Co., Dec. 3–31; 212/244-7529. This new play by dramatist and screenwriter Horton Foote (The Trip to Bountiful) stars Oscar-winning actress Estelle Parsons as the only surviving member of a powerful Texas clan looking back at her family's checkered history.
Denver Tantalus Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Oct. 21–Dec. 2; 303/893-4100. Named for the Greek figure who betrayed the gods and was punished with eternal hunger and thirst, this 10-play cycle retraces the events of the Trojan War. The production is directed by Sir Peter Hall (of the Royal Shakespeare Company), who gives a surprisingly contemporary twist to ancient myths. Tantalus's fate hangs over the entire play, as mortals like him (and us) wrestle with what remains just out of reach.
- Russian women artists of the early 20th century in Amazons of the Avant-Garde at the guggenheim, New York, through Jan. 7.
- Raphael Drawings from Windsor Castle at the getty Museum, L.A., Oct. 31–Jan. 7.
Hitting the High Notes When the Palais Garnier opened in Paris in 1875, it stood as a glittering monument to the Second Empire. The Beaux-Arts theater took 14 years to build and cost a staggering 35 million francs. Today, the Garnier is in the midst of an ambitious restoration project. The façade is once again bright and shiny, the loggia all colored marble and mosaics. Next month the voice of soprano Natalie Dessay will soar to the heights of the Chagall ceiling in Mozart's fanciful opera The Magic Flute (Nov. 27–Jan. 6). And just in time for Christmas comes George Balanchine's three-part ballet Jewels, with sparkling sets and costumes by couturier Christian Lacroix (Dec. 15–31). Place de l'Opéra, 33-8/36-69-78-68.
London Tristan and Isolde Royal Opera, Oct. 14–Nov. 9; 44-207/304-4000. After decades of absence from the world's stages, Wagner's monument to transcendent love was revived last season in productions by opera companies from Chicago to Honolulu. Now it's Covent Garden's turn. Royal Opera music director Bernard Haitink leads American tenor Jon Frederic West and German soprano Gabriele Schnaut in a new staging, directed, designed, and lit by Herbert Wernicke.
San Francisco Dead Man Walking San Francisco Opera, Oct. 7–28; 415/864-3330. Joe Mantello directs the world premiere of American composer Jake Heggie's opera, based on the searing true story by Sister Helen Prejean, with a libretto by Terrence McNally. Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham stars as Prejean and the young baritone John Packard takes on the role of death-row inmate Joe de Rocher in this modern tale of crime and punishment.
New York Fidelio Metropolitan Opera, Oct. 13–Jan. 11; 212/362-6000. Beethoven's sole opera is so seldom staged that its title served as the secret password to the pleasure palace in Stanley Kubrick's final film. The Met makes good with a new production of the 19th-century composer's ode to revolutionary ideals.
The Love for Three Oranges New York City Opera, Oct. 17–Nov. 5; 212/870-5570. Prokofiev's delicious opera based on the Carlo Gozzi comedy (melancholy prince plus humorless witch equals fruitful farce) is rarely produced. But it's a must-see, and next March, across the Lincoln Center plaza, the Met produces Prokofiev's The Gambler, based on the Dostoyevsky novel.
Chicago The Queen of Spades Lyric Opera of Chicago, through Oct. 27; 312/332-2244. The setting: imperial Russia. The subject: passionate love and obsessive gambling. The twist: retribution from beyond the grave. Russian tenor Vladimir Galouzine and Swedish soprano Katarina Dalayman are the fated protagonists in Tchaikovsky's hyper-romantic tragic opera, after the Pushkin novella. Versatile mezzo-soprano Felicity Palmer holds the trump card as the formidable countess.
HoustonKatya Kabanova Houston Grand Opera, Oct. 27–Nov. 12; 713/227-2787. More than one storm is brewing along the banks of the Volga. Catherine Malfitano, one of today's great singing actresses, embodies the role of Janacek's heroine, torn between bourgeois duty to her husband and forbidden passion for her lover. Emma Bovary would have understood. –Mario R. Mercado
- Van Gogh portraits at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 22–Jan. 14.
- Jacob Lawrence at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Oct. 7–Dec. 3.