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.