EUROPE London Sudan: Ancient Treasures British Museum (through Jan. 9). Currently ravaged by violence, Sudan was home to one of the Nile Valley's most accomplished ancient civilizations. This spectacular show from the National Museum in Khartoum includes rare objects and recent discoveries dating from Paleolithic times to the 19th century, including gold statues of Kushite kings, exquisite jewelry, and calligraphy. Paris Turner-Whistler-Monet Grand Palais (through Jan. 17). Impressionism, that quintessentially French phenomenon, may have had its roots in London. Captivated by the paintings of Joseph Mallord William Turner and expatriate American James Abbott Whistler, a young Claude Monet found the seeds of an aesthetic revolution in the shimmering, pollution-laden fog over the Thames. Madrid The Spanish Portrait: From El Greco to Picasso Museo Nacional del Prado (through Feb. 6). Gertrude Stein meets the Duchess of Alba in this magnificent exhibition showcasing five centuries of portraits by Spanish masters of the genre, from the grave courtiers and elegant ladies of El Greco, Goya, and Velázquez to bohemians by Juan Gris and Picasso. Berlin Berlinische Galerie Opening The art and archival documents at this stunning new museum and library, which was scheduled to open in October, span 120 years of artistic activity in the German capital, from 19th-century Expressionist masterworks and the ferment of Weimar café society, to the struggles of the postwar period and Berlin's current revival as vital center for contemporary art-making. Friedrich Christian Flick Collection Hamburger Bahnhof (through Jan. 23). This premier collection of 20th- and 21st-century art comes trailing controversy—the collector's family fortune was built during the Nazi era. But curators are promising full disclosure, alongside a lively display of works by Marcel Duchamp, Bruce Nauman, and Cindy Sherman, among others.
UNITED STATES New York China: Dawn of a Golden Age, A.D. 200-750 Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Jan. 23). Priceless treasures on loanfrom mainland China reveal an ancient culture in transformation, open to Hellenistic, Persian, and Buddhist influences as they were carried along the Silk Road and showed up in the curved stem of a jade goblet or the graceful sway of religious sculpture. Highlights include fantastic clay animals and a bronze cavalry arrayed in mid-procession. The Aztec Empire Guggenheim Museum (through Feb. 13). The largest collection of Aztec gold jewelry ever shown is just one part of this major exhibition—the country's first in more than 20 years—co-designed by Mexican architect Enrique Norten and J. Meejin Yoon. Monumental clay gods of the netherworld vie for attention with more humble artifacts, like the handle of a flyswatter. Philadelphia Florence Knoll Bassett: Defining Modern Philadelphia Museum of Art (Nov. 17-April 10). Luxurious simplicity and refined luminosity marked the interiors that Florence Knoll Bassett created for high-profile clients like CBS and Seagram's, changing the face of postwar corporate America. Now 87, Knoll Bassett returns to the limelight, designing the first museum exhibition of her own work. Washington, D.C. Calder Miró Phillips Collection (through Jan. 23). This exhibition documents five decades of friendship between the two great masters of play in 20th-century art, from their early fascination with carnival and circus figures to their mature experiments in abstraction and late collaborations on public projects in Cincinnati and Paris. Chicago Chicago Architecture: 10 Visions Art Institute of Chicago (Nov. 26-April 3). Rooms by 10 Chicago firms explore the city's architectural heritage and its future, with installations and models on everything from the impact of the information age to the baseball park's built environment. San Francisco Roy Lichtenstein: All About Art San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (through Feb. 22). "Is he the worst artist in the U.S.?" Life magazine asked of Roy Lichtenstein in 1964. His Donalds and Mickeys and tough guys and tearful gals who "won't call Brad for help" have never looked more sophisticated. Los Angeles Robert Smithson Museum of Contemporary Art at California Plaza (through Dec. 13). Pioneering artist and passionate traveler Robert Smithson—best known for his Spiral Jetty (1970)—found room for his apocalyptic visions of nature on the Great Salt Lake in Utah and in the jungles of the Yucatán. His first comprehensive retrospective promises to be a revelation. Miami Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form, 1940's-70's Miami Art Museum (Nov. 19-Apr. 24). If you missed this eclectic international survey of the postwar avant-garde in Los Angeles last summer, catch it in Miami, where visionary Brazilian performance artists, austere U.S. minimalists, and far-out Italian Conceptualists cozy up together. Art Basel Miami Beach Miami Beach Convention Center (Dec. 2-5). Big-time dealers, collectors, luminaries, and wild parties have made this international fair, in its third year, the art world's favorite winter destination.
Cultural institutions in Europe, the United States, and Japan are marking the fall with new buildings.
EUROPE Baden-Baden Architect Richard Meier's museum for the Collection Frieder Burda (www.sammlung-frieder-burda.de) in Germany—a crisp, abstract geometric design in his signature all-white palette—adjoins the Neoclassical 1907 Staatliche Kunsthalle. Clerestory windows illuminate the top-floor galleries, whose recessed walls allow light to suffuse its three floors. The collection excels in German Expressionism and American abstract painting. Düsseldorf Japanese architect Tadao Ando is known for subdued structures impeccably rendered in concrete. His building for the Langen Foundation's collection (www.langenfoundation.de) is no exception. Currently on view in the newly opened museum: "Images of Stillness: Traditional Japanese and Western Modern Art". Cardiff In 1995, the unceremonious scrapping of Zaha Hadid's design for the opera house in Wales, sparked one of the U.K.'s biggest architecture controversies. Now that the brouhaha is long past, Cardiff is quietly opening the Wales Millennium Centre (www.wmc.org.uk) on November 26. The new building, by Welsh architect Jonathan Adams, has two theaters, a shallow dome, and walls of Welsh slate. Resident companies include the Welsh National Opera and the Dance Company of Wales. Copenhagen Thanks to the largesse of Danish shipping magnate Sir Maersk McKinney Moller, Copenhagen built its gleaming new opera house without the controversy (and delay) that Cardiff endured. Designed by architects Henning Larsens Tegnestue, the dramatic Operaen (www.kgl-teater.dk) stands out from the converted 17th-century Holmen district along the waterfront; its cantilevered roof soars 105 feet beyond the curved four-story building, which holds a 1,400-seat main hall and a smaller 200-seat studio stage. The Royal Danish Opera inaugurates its new house with performances of Aida beginning January 15.
UNITED STATES New York The latest addition to the visual arts has taken up residence in a smartly repurposed space designed by Beyer Blinder Belle and Milton Glaser. Nostalgic shoppers will recognize the Rubin Museum of Art (www.rmanyc.org) as part of the original Barneys, with its spiraling Andrée Putman-designed marble staircase intact. Its six floors showcase works from Shelly and Donald Rubin's collection of more than 900 works of Himalayan art dating from the 12th century. Madison An expert in changing skylines, architect Cesar Pelli has reimagined the cityscapes of Madison, Wisconsin, and Osaka, Japan. The Overture Center (www.madisonsymphony.org) in downtown Madison includes a new theater for the symphony orchestra and the Madison Opera.
JAPAN Osaka Pelli's building for the National Museum of Art, Osaka (www.nmao.go.jp) is nearly invisible—because it's underground. Only an elegant scribble of stainless-steel tubes towers above the street, serving as the entrance. It opens on November 3 with "Mirrorical Returns: Marcel Duchamp and 20th-Century Art."
UNITED STATES New York Nora Harvey Theater (Nov. 9-13; 718/636-4100; www.bam.org). Germany's Thomas Ostermeier, an artistic director of the Berlin Schaubühne, brings his bold reconception of A Doll's House to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Pacific Overtures Studio 54 (Nov. 12-Jan. 30; 212/719-1300; www.pacific-overtures.com). The Roundabout Theatre Company presents Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical, in its first Broadway revival, about Admiral Perry's invasion of Japan. Amon Miyamoto directs the English-language version of the highly regarded Japanese production, which stars B. D. Wong. Democracy Brooks Atkinson Theatre (opens Nov. 18; 212/307-4100; www.ticketmaster.com). Depend on playwright Michael Frayn—who made physics enticing in Copenhagen—to serve up West German politics as intense drama. The National Theatre production is staged by Michael Blakemore, with James Naughton in the featured role of charismatic chancellor Willy Brandt and Richard Thomas as his crafty assistant. Los Angeles The Center Theatre Group raises the curtain on the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, a 300-seat house that will serve as an incubator for new plays. The inaugural season brings six premieres. First up: the comedy A Perfect Wedding (Oct. 31-Nov. 22; www.taperahmanson.com), by Charles L. Mee and directed by Gordon Davidson. Chicago Spamalot Shubert Theatre (Dec. 21-Jan.16; www.broadwayinchicago.com). The Second City will be the first to see one of the year's most eagerly anticipated Broadway musicals, prior to its scheduled New York opening in March. Based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the show was adapted by Monty Python alum Eric Idle and is being staged by Mike Nichols. The cast includes David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria, and Tim Curry.
EUROPE London The History Boys Lyttelton Theatre (through spring 2005; 44-207/452-3000; www.nationaltheatre.org.uk). Alan Bennett's Goodbye, Mr. Chips for the 21st century explores the value and meaning of education, and life's ultimate lessons, with wit and grace. Nicholas Hytner directs. Mary Poppins Prince Edward Theatre (opens Dec. 15; 44-207/447-5400; www.marypoppinsthemusical.co.uk). A seemingly improbable collaboration between Disney and Cameron Mackintosh brings to the West End a new musical, based on the novels of P. L. Travers and the 1965 movie musical about the "practically perfect" Victorian governess. The show is co-directed by Richard Eyre and Mathew Bourne and stars Laura Michelle Kelly in the title role.
EUROPE Venice La Traviata Teatro La Fenice (Nov. 12-20; 39-041/786-510; www.teatrolafenice.it). What many consider the most beautiful opera house on the planet has been rebuilt after a devastating fire. The "phoenix" reopens with Verdi's opera, which premiered here in 1853. Lorin Maazel conducts. Paris Angels in America Châtelet, Théâtre Musical de Paris (Nov. 23-29; 33-1/40-28-28-40; www.chatelet-theatre.com). This eclectic and progressive theater presents the premiere of Peter Eötvös's opera based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tony Kushner. The composer conducts a cast headed by Barbara Hendricks, Julia Migenes, Roberta Alexander, Donald Maxwell, and Daniel Belcher.
UNITED STATES New York Rodelinda Metropolitan Opera (Dec. 2-Jan. 6; 212/362-6000; www.metopera.org). Handel's opera about royal intrigue in seventh-century Milan receives its first Met production. Conductor Harry Bicket and director Stephen Wadsworth make house debuts; soprano Renée Fleming is the besieged eponymous queen; countertenor David Daniels is her consort. Chicago A Wedding Lyric Opera of Chicago (Dec. 11-Jan. 21; 312/332-2244; www.lyricopera.org). Lyric Opera, celebrating its 50th-anniversary season, cuts a different cake for the premiere of the opera by composer William Bolcom and librettist Arnold Weinstein, based on Robert Altman's 1978 movie of the same name. Altman directs it anew, with 16 principal singers, including sopranos Lauren Flanigan and Catherine Malfitano. Los Angeles The Tristan Project Los Angeles Philharmonic Walt Disney Concert Hall (Dec. 3-12; 323/850-2000; www.laphil.com). Music director Esa-Pekka Salonen takes the orchestra—and a game cast—through Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Peter Sellars, who discovers surprising emotional jolts in everything he stages, directs in the special ambience of Disney Hall and enlists video artist Bill Viola to help. San Francisco San Francisco Symphony Davies Hall (Jan. 6-15; 415/864-6000; www.sfsymphony.org). Michael Tilson Thomas's 10th year as music director of this orchestra coincides with his 60th birthday. The orchestra is celebrating in grand style throughout the month, including a special birthday concert with Renée Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Audra McDonald, and Thomas Hampson on January 13.
UNITED STATES New York In the theater district, Beyer Blinder Belle, the architects behind the Rubin Museum, have transformed an underground cinema multiplex into the $23 million Dodger Stages. Five former screening rooms beneath the Worldwide Plaza office complex are now black-box theaters (ranging in size from 199 to 499 seats), for off-Broadway productions, including Modern Orthodox, a new play by Daniel Goldfarb, staged by James Lapine, with Craig Bierko, Molly Ringwald, and Jason Biggs (opens Dec. 6). 340 W. 50th St.; www.dodgerstages.com.
UNITED STATES New York 700 Sundays Broadhurst Theatre (opens Dec. 5-Mar. 6; 212/239-6200; www.telecharge.com). Billy Crystal makes his Broadway debut in a one-man, two-act play written by Crystal with additional content by Alan Zweibel that recounts the people and events—alternately funny and probably sentimental—along the path from Long Island to Manhattan to Hollywood. Back with a Vengeance Music Box Theatre (opens Nov. 21-Mar. 13; 212/239-6200; www.telecharge.com). A different kind of one-man show will be a block (and world) away when Dame Edna Everage (a.k.a. Barrie Humphries) makes a welcome return to Broadway. Don't arrive late, possums. Los Angeles The Paris Letter (Dec. 5Jan. 2; 213/628-2772; www.taperahmanson.com). The second premiere in the inaugural season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre is a drama by Jon Robin Baitz about the high-tension life of a financial titan who is at a crossroads, dealing with power, money, and revelations about sexuality. Chicago All Shook Up Cadillac Palace Theater (Dec. 19Jan. 23; 312/902-1400 www.broadwayinchicago.com). It was perhaps only a matter of time before a musical romantic comedy would be fashioned around the music of Elvis Presley. The King lives on as his hits wake up a sleepy town with the arrival of—what else?—a jukebox.
EUROPE London His Dark Materials Olivier Theatre (Nov. 20April 2; 44-207/452-3000; www.nationaltheatre.org.uk). Nicholas Wright's six-hour, two-part adaptation of novels by Philip Pullman. Nicholas Hytner stages the epic tale, in the allegorical style of The Lord of the Rings, in which two adolescent protagonists, Lyra and Will, take on adventures in worlds known and fantastical. Aladdin Old Vic Theatre (Dec. 17Jan. 22; 44-870-060-6628; www.oldvictheatre.com). Sir Ian McKellen fulfills a career ambition and appears as the Widow Twankey in a holiday pantomime, the singularly British Christmas tradition replete with stock characters, bad puns, audience participation, and lavish sets and costumes. Not to be missed.
EUROPE Paris Hercules Opéra National de Paris, Palais Garnier (Dec. 427; 33-1/40-01-80-54; www.opera-de-paris.fr). One of Handel's most powerful operatic tragedies, considered by some the peak of Baroque music-drama, arrives from this summer's Aix-en-Provence festival in a production conducted by the iconic William Christie and directed by Luc Bondy. William Shimell is the hero, and Joyce DiDonato portrays the treacherous Dejanira.
UNITED STATES New York The MET Orchestra Carnegie Hall (Jan. 9, 23, 30; 212/247-7800; www.carnegiehall.org). The opera company's superb orchestra, led by conductor James Levine, gives a series of three concerts at Carnegie Hall during the company's mid-season hiatus of productions at Lincoln Center. Highlights: the Brahms Violin Concerto with soloist Gil Shaham (Jan. 9); mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and tenor Ben Heppner are soloists in Mahler's Song of the Earth (Jan. 23); and Anton Webern's diaphanous Symphony Op. 21 and Charles Wuorinen's friskily antiphonal 1971 Grand Bamboula (Jan. 30).