A Skull in Connemara A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), July 21-Aug. 20; 206/292-7676. In this black comedy by Martin McDonagh — one of the hottest voices in Irish theater — a gravedigger is ordered to unearth his late wife's remains, and rumors begin to fly about his involvement in her sudden death seven years earlier.
Costa Mesa, Calif.
The Education of Randy Newman South Coast Repertory, May 26-July 2; 714/708-5555. Singer-songwriter Randy Newman, famous for the irreverent "Short People," is the subject of this new musical modeled on The Education of Henry Adams.
From the Bauhaus to their house
The crucible of modern design, the Bauhaus may have been short-lived, but its aesthetic aspirations still shape ours. After it was shut down by the Nazis, the earliest Bauhaus buildings were consigned to decay when they fell behind the Iron Curtain. Now Walter Gropius's stark design school in Dessau has been transformed into a museum. And earlier this year, the former quarters for the school's senior faculty — including the house in which the painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky lived — opened to the public. Built in the 1920's, these classic monuments of Modernism recall a time when their residents helped set off a cultural revolution.
—Michael Z. Wise
Curated by Jean-Hubert Martin, whose exhibition "Magicians of the Earth" forever axed the word primitive from our vocabulary, Lyons's fifth contemporary art biennial (at Halle Tony Garnier, June 28-Sept. 24) is set to offer a global survey of live-wire art. Entitled "Sharing Exoticism," this display of works by artists from at least 50 countries sprawls through what was once a slaughterhouse.
Not just a job, an adventure
Djibouti, an East African republic roughly the size of Massachusetts, seems an unlikely setting for an American classic. But that's where French director Claire Denis shot Beau Travail, inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd. The arid landscapes serve as a vast petri dish for Denis's cool examination of human nature, as she transposes Melville's tale of good and evil among sailors to a far-flung outpost of the Foreign Legion. By day the men perform grueling exercises. On weekends, they unwind in the neon-lit nightclubs of Tadjoura, where Rimbaud once trafficked in arms. Sensual and startling, Denis's film tests the limits of Europe's relation to Africa.
Verdi walks on water
A floating stage on Lake Constance provides the spectacular backdrop for Verdi's A Masked Ball in Richard Jones and Anthony McDonald's sensational production. Indoors: 19th-century Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov's seldom-produced final opera, The Golden Cockerel. And for a more contemporary investigation of the complications of seduction, there's Argentinean Astor Piazzolla's "tango operita" María de Buenos Aires. Bregenz Festival, July 20-Aug. 30; 43-5/574-4070.
Lincoln Center Festival July 11-30; 212/875-5928. Dance takes center stage with the Bolshoi Ballet performing Giselle; Wim Vandekeybus's inventive performance-art piece In Spite of Wishing and Wanting (with a score by David Byrne); and Meredith Monk's Voice Travel, a three-part retrospective of the work of this iconoclastic performance artist.
Salzburg Festival July 23-Aug. 31; 43-662/804-5579. Soprano Dawn Upshaw and baritone Dwayne Croft star in Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's opera L'Amour de Loin (Love from Afar). Staged by maverick director Peter Sellars, it promises to be the most talked-about production at this renowned festival.
Aix-en-Provence Festival June 15-July 28; 33-442/17-34-34. Four new opera productions ranging from the Baroque era — Monteverdi's vivid Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria — to the 20th century — Janácek's fantastical Makropoulos Affair. Plus, the ever-energetic Pierre Boulez, the guru of Modernist music, conducts four concerts.
Dresden Music Festival May 26-June 12; 49-351/486-6317. Bach's Brandenburg concertos and numerous cantatas mark the 250th anniversary of his death. To leaven the 18th-century polyphony, Cuban octogenarian Rubén González, of Buena Vista Social Club fame, takes his turn at the piano.
Florence Maggio Musicale April 19-June 29; 39-055/211-158. Soprano Mariella Devia and tenor Marcelo Álvarez portray Verdi's tragic lovers in La Traviata, which opens this year's festival. Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea, and the world premiere of contemporary composer Giorgio Battistelli's Impressions d'Afrique round out the operatic offerings.
Drottningholm Court Theater May 31-Sept. 2; 46-8/665-1400. The Royal Swedish Opera and Drottningholm's Teatermuseum present period opera and dance performances with reproductions of original stage settings. Mozart's Così fan tutte and Handel's Tamerlano alternate with two ballets that take a stab at unraveling the Gordian knot of love and power, Semiramis and Médée.
Glyndebourne Festival May 20-Aug. 27; 44-1273/815-000. At this festival, good news comes in threes: a trio of Mozart-Da Ponte collaborations — The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte — and three 20th-century works, including Britten's Peter Grimes.
Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival Aug. 18-Sept. 30; 61-2/9297-2000. Cultural programs encompassing opera, music, dance, and theater are on a scale comparable to the Olympic Games: 4,000 artists, 53 productions, 50 exhibitions, 45 locations. Classical concerts aside, the fare ranges from crowd-pleasing duets to avant-garde dance. Cabaret star Barbara Cook and Australian favorite son David Campbell team up at the Sydney Opera House, while choreographer Bill T. Jones delivers his new work, You Walk?, at Her Majesty's Theatre.
—Mario R. Mercado
Portraits by van Gogh at the Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston, July 2-Sept. 24.
1900: Art at the Crossroads at the Guggenheim, New York, May 19-Sept. 10.
Barbara Kruger's politically charged installations at the Whitney Museum, New York, July 13-Oct. 22.
Eighteenth-century French genre painter Chardin at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, June 27-Sept. 3.
The Stroganoff family treasures at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Tex., July 2-Oct. 1.
Ben Shahn's New York at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., June 10-Aug. 27.
Retrospective of American photographer Walker Evans at San Francisco MOMA, June 2-Sept. 12.
The Work of Charles and Ray Eames at the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art, June 25-Sept. 10.
Artists' favorite Philip Guston at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, May 12-July 30.
Inside/Out: New Chinese Art at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, through July 9.