UNITED STATES Chicago Ravinia Festival June 4-September 12; 847/266-5100; www.ravinia.org. North America's oldest music festival celebrates its centenary. Kicking off the proceedings is the American premiere of South Africa's first indigenous opera, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, with a cast of more than 60 artists. Stephen Sondheim's homage to Seurat, Sunday in the Park with George, is the current offering in its Sondheim 75 series; and the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin, rocks on in two concerts. New York Lincoln Center Festival July 6-25; 212/721-6500; www.lincolncenter.org. An authentic kabuki theater constructed in Damrosch Park?The Japanese company Nakamura-za promises kabuki slapstick with The Summer Festival: A Mirror of Osaka. In addition, Nathan Lane stars as Dionysus in Sondheim's musical reworking of Aristophanes' classic The Frogs. British composer Sir John Tavener's epic merging of Eastern and Western musical idioms, The Veil of the Temple, takes over the night shift at Avery Fisher Hall, beginning at 10:30 p.m. and concluding at 5 a.m. Washington, D.C. Tennessee Williams Explored Through August 8; 800/444-1324; www.kennedy-center.org. The Kennedy Center surveys the work of the great master of sexual neurosis, Southern gothic style. Highlights include Patricia Clarkson relying upon the kindness of strangers as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, and an evening of five one-act plays (four newly discovered), including the story of a New Orleans drag queen. Washington National Opera May 15-June 2; 800/876-7372; www.dc-opera.org. Don't miss the production of André Previn's 1998 Streetcar Named Desire. Charleston, S.C. Spoleto Festival USA May 28-June 13; 843/579-3100; www.spoletousa.org. Mikhail Baryshnikov stars in Georgian director Rezo Gabriadze's The Doctor and the Patient as a former soldier, returning to his native village, who is driven mad by his true love's betrayal. Spoleto also offers the last chance to catch the U.S. performances of the 16th-century Chinese operatic epic The Peony Pavillion. Opera Opera Theatre of Saint Louis May 22-June 27; 314/961-0644; www.experienceopera.org. The company that domesticates opera, with four productions all performed in English, is presenting quintessentially American fare: John Adams's modern classic Nixon in China. Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown, New York July 1-August 24; 607/547-5704; www.glimmerglass.org. Four new stagings of works just beyond the standard repertory, including Handel's penultimate opera, Imeneo, and Richard Rodney Bennett's 20th-century thriller The Mines of Sulphur. The Santa Fe Opera July 2-August 28; 800/280-4654; www.santafeopera.org. A remarkable open-air theater is the backdrop for Beatrice and Benedict, Berlioz's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, and Bellini's La Sonnambula, in which soprano Natalie Dessay lends her dazzling coloratura to the tale of a sleepwalking orphan who sings her way back into her fiancé's heart. Performance American Dance Festival, Durham, N.C. June 10-July 24; 919/684-4444; www.americandancefestival.org. This international program of modern dance ranges from Israel's Batsheva Dance Company, to the Shen Wei Dance Arts, a new group that fuses Chinese operatic traditions with dance, theater, painting, and sculpture, to the Paul Taylor Dance Company, now celebrating its 50th season.
LESLIE CAMHI is a New York-based arts writer and cultural critic.