T+L's guide to the arts—A Rembrandt retrospective and the Whitney Biennial; eye-popping Spanish architecture and the complete Shakespeare; an operatic monster in Los Angeles and Imelda in Oz. plus: premieres in London and New Orleans, and more

Robbie Jack The Mark Morris Dance Group.
| Credit: Robbie Jack


NEW YORK Whitney Biennial 2006: Day for Night Whitney Museum of American Art (March 2–May 28). The famed survey of contemporary art goes global with works by more than 100 artists—from both the usual art-world haunts and from newer centers as diverse as Sweden, Trinidad, and Hong Kong. The curators home in on a zeitgeist of anxious foreboding and political subversion. But there's still fun to be had, including Francesco Vezzoli's decadent, Hollywood-inspired trailer for an imaginary remake of Gore Vidal's Caligula. On-Site: New Architecture in Spain Museum of Modern Art (through May 1). The dramatic development of Spain as a hub for architectural innovation is celebrated in this show, which features models and photographs of projects under construction or recently completed, by home-grown talents (Rafael Moneo, Abalos & Herreros) and international stars (Toyo Ito, Jean Nouvel). WASHINGTON D.C. The Renoir Returns: A Celebration of Masterworks at the Phillips Collection Phillips Collection. In the 1920's, art collector Duncan Phillips envisaged for his "American Prado" an intimate domestic setting, where his Modernist treasures would shine with particular splendor. The nation's first museum of modern art reopens on April 15, after a four-year renovation, with galleries for the display of postwar and contemporary work, a new sculpture courtyard, a re-sited Rothko room, and the return of the museum's most beloved work, Renoir's Boating Party. Cézanne in Provence National Gallery of Art (through May 7). The centennial of Paul Cézanne's death is the occasion for this exhibition exploring the painter's intimate relationship with the region of his birth. The nearly 120 works include early portraits of family members, paintings of Provençal villages, a late series of bathers, and, presiding over all, the monumental profile of Montagne Ste.-Victoire. BOSTON Living in Motion: Design and Architecture for Flexible Dwelling Institute of Contemporary Art (through May 7). From Afghani yurts to Noguchi lamps and German wristphones, this wide-ranging show investigates the idea of mobility in traditional and contemporary design. HOUSTON Eva Hesse Drawings Menil Collection (through April 23). Hesse, one of the most influential American sculptors of her generation, developed a signature style of postminimalist abstraction, emphasizing process and organic form. This exhibition (which travels to New York's Drawing Center in May) focuses on her works on paper. LOS ANGELES Lorna Simpson Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (April 16–July 10). The first mid-career survey devoted to this groundbreaking contemporary artist, whose photo-based works and film installations explore issues of race and gender. HONOLULU Life in the Pacific of the 1700's Honolulu Academy of Arts (through May 14). Priceless treasures given by Pacific Islanders to the English captain James Cook during his three voyages are making a return journey from the Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, for this exhibition, which reveals the art and industry of a world untouched by the West. EUROPE AMSTERDAM Rembrandt, Quest of a Genius Rembrandt House (April 1–July 2); Rembrandt-Caravaggio Van Gogh Museum (through June 18). The 400th anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn's birth is being observed with a spate of spectacular exhibitions, including a major retrospective at the Rembrandt House and, at the Van Gogh Museum, a show pairing two Baroque geniuses famed for psychological insight and metaphysical illumination.—Leslie Camhi


AUSTIN, TEXAS The Mari and James A. Michener Gallery at the Blanton Museum of Art (University of Texas at Austin; www.blantonmuseum.org) opens to the public April 30. Boston architects Kallmann McKinnell & Wood designed the Neoclassical structure, which has limestone and granite walls capped by red Spanish-tile roofs. The new gallery will allow the Blanton—which will ultimately be the largest university museum facility in the country—to showcase more of its collection, with strong holdings of old-master paintings and art of the American West and Latin America. The five inaugural exhibitions include "New Now Next: The Contemporary Blanton." OHIO Fans of hip Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the firm SANAA will have to wait until June to see the innovative Tokyo designers' first American project: the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art (800/644-6862; toledomuseum.org). On the museum's wooded campus, SANAA has created a crystalline box with a steel roof that appears to float above the transparent, curving walls. What's inside?A collection of glass objets that ranges from 13th-century Egyptian lamps and 17th-century Venetian vases to sculpture by Dale Chihuly. EUROPE WOLFSBURG, GERMANY The latest feat of structural daring by Zaha Hadid is the Phaeno Science Center (www.phaeno.de), a museum of exploration and science for both children and adults. The swelling concrete piers and kinetic patterns of oblong windows animate the building, which rises above the Mitteland Canal, beside the city's main rail station. (Berlin is an hour away by ICE train, Hanover 30 minutes.) Inside, a surreal landscape of whitewashed concrete craters and cones creates a sculptural backdrop for 250 hands-on, kid-friendly interactive exhibits and installations that illuminate natural and scientific phenomena.—Raul Barreneche


NEW YORK Hedda Gabler Brooklyn Academy of Music (February 28–March 26; 718/ 636-4100; www.bam.org). Academy Award–winning actress Cate Blanchett makes her American stage debut in the title role of Ibsen's play featuring a ruthless protagonist, in a Sydney Theatre Company production. The History Boys Broadhurst Theatre (opens April 23; 212/239-6200; www.historyboysonbroadway.com). First produced by the National Theatre in London, the critically acclaimed play by Alan Bennett finally arrives for its U.S. premiere. Nicholas Hytner directs the original cast in a funny and moving tale that illustrates the difference between education and learning in the English school system. Three Days of Rain Bernard Jacobs Theatre (opens April 19; 212/239-6200; www.telecharge.com). Julia Roberts makes her Broadway debut in a revival of Richard Greenberg's searing drama of misunderstandings among a sister, brother, and longtime family friend. Joe Mantello directs the three-person cast, which costars Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd. The Threepenny Opera Studio 54 (opens April 20; 212/719-1300; www.roundabouttheatre.org). Scott Elliott stages the Roundabout Theatre production of the corrosive, ever relevant Weill-Brecht satire in a new translation by Wallace Shawn, with Alan Cumming (Macheath), Jim Dale (Mr. Peachum), Ana Gasteyer (Mrs. Peachum), and Cyndi Lauper (Jenny). EUROPE LONDON Royal Court Theatre (through March; 44-20/7565-5000; www.royalcourttheatre.com). The Royal Court is observing its golden anniversary with the series 50 Readings, 50 Writers, 50 Years, over 50 nights. The play readings take audiences through the past half-century of modern theater, with works by John Osborne, Harold Pinter, and Hanif Kureishi. One major British playwright not represented is Tom Stoppard, whose new play, Rock N Roll, about the recent history of the Czech Republic as told through the perspectives of a rock band and a Cambridge philosopher, debuts at the Royal Court on June 3, with a run through July 15. Stratford-on-Avon The play is the thing and then some: commencing April 23, the Royal Shakespeare Company launches The Complete Works Festival (44-1789/403-437; www.rsccompleteworks.co.uk), an unprecedented, yearlong, multivenue celebration of all 37 plays, the sonnets, and several longer poems by the greatest writer in the English language. Leading directors, actors, and companies from around the world are participating, including Trevor Nunn, Yukio Ninagawa, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, the Münchner Kammerspiele, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.—Bill Rosenfield


NEW YORK Jordi Savall, the Spanish viola da gambist and conductor, a living legend in early music, returns this month to New York. Savall will lead his Hespèrion XXI ensemble and La Capella Reial de Catalunya in music of the Iberian Peninsula on March 4 at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle (www.millertheatre.com) and on March 16 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org). Mazeppa Metropolitan Opera (March 6–27; 212/362-6000; www.metopera.org). Tchaikovsky's opera, based on a poem by Pushkin about the 17th-century Ukrainian Cossack hero, premiered in 1884 in Moscow; this will be its Met debut. A Creative Path: The Music of Dmitry Shostakovich Lincoln Center (March–May; 212/721-6500; www.lincolncenter.org). A two-pronged celebration for the centennial of the birth of the Russian composer. Valery Gergiev leads performances of the first 9 of Shostakovich's 15 symphonies, conducting the Kirov Orchestra March 12 and 13 and the Rotterdam Philharmonic April 9 and 10, all in Avery Fisher Hall. The symphonic cycle concludes next fall. Meanwhile, the versatile and energetic Emerson String Quartet surveys all 15 quartets—which span the composer's career—in a marathon series, on April 27 and 30 and May 4, 11, and 14. LOS ANGELES Grendel (May 27–June 17; 213/972-8001, www.laopera.com). At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the L.A. Opera launches the premiere of Elliot Goldenthal's musical adaptation of John Gardner's witty, tragic novel about the monster whom Beowulf destroyed. The story gives Grendel's side of things. Julie Taymor, whose theatrical imagination seems boundless, stages the opera, which bows later in the summer at the Lincoln Center Festival, in New York.—Leighton Kerner


Famed for its innovative programming, the Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts (March 3–19; www.adelaidefestival.com.au) in South Australia presents more than 130 performances of theater, music, and dance from companies around the world. This year's highlights include Richard Jones's Glyndebourne Festival Opera production of Jonathan Dove's Flight, a melodic fable about travelers grounded overnight at an airport, and a world premiere, Here Lies Love, a staged song cycle that spans the life of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos—including her New York disco days. The piece features music and lyrics by David Byrne, with contributions by DJ Fatboy Slim, and will be performed by a multinational cast.


Choreographer Mark Morris (www.mmdg.org) contributes to dance on many levels. This month, his company celebrates its 25th anniversary with 10 performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (March 6–25; www.bam.org). For the occasion, Morris makes his conducting debut, leading a performance of his popular Gloria. As part of the anniversary season, Morris is creating five new works—including a full-evening opera-ballet, King Arthur, set to a score by English Baroque composer Henry Purcell—that will be showcased in the United Kingdom and the United States.


Fiercely committed to bringing New Orleans back to life, Wynton Marsalis returns to his hometown for a week of concerts with his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (April 17–23; www.jalc.org). To celebrate the Crescent City's cultural legacy, the group will perform some of the best New Orleans jazz; the premiere of Congo Square, a musical work by Marsalis and percussionist Yacub Addy (named for the only place in the city where African Americans could congregate during the slave era); and a newly discovered piece by legend Jelly Roll Morton.
—Valerie Gladstone


Washington, D.C. Hokusai Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (March 4–May 14). This sublime Japanese master’s renditions of thunder gods, waterfalls, and views of Mount Fuji are on display in an exhibition that includes an unprecedented assembly of 41 rare Hokusai paintings from the adjacent Freer Gallery’s collection, alongside the artist’s better-known books, scrolls, drawings, and prints. Montreal Catherine the Great: Art for Empire—Masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (through May 7). A show of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts illuminating the life and taste of the legendary ruler, who overthrew her husband in 1762 to become Empress of All Russia, and whose relationships with leading European artists and intellectuals helped usher her adopted homeland into the modern era.—Leslie Camhi


Rome, Italy The new Museum of the Ara Pacis Augustae, designed by Richard Meier, has sparked a controversy in the Eternal City. The first modernist building to be erected in the historic center since Mussolini’s era, Meier’s crisp, three-story glass-and-travertine structure shelters the Altar of Peace, a white marble artifact with exquisite friezes, begun in 13 B.C. to commemorate Augustus Caesar’s military victories in Spain and Gaul. The new building, which replaces an outdated fascist-modern structure designed in 1938 under Mussolini’s direction, sits on the east bank of the Tiber, next to Augustus’s Mausoleum on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore. Meier’s museum opens on April 21.—Raul Barreneche


New York Wall-to-Wall Stravinsky Symphony Space (March 18; 212/864-5400; www.symphonyspace.com). This daylong musical marathon, a tradition on the Upper West Side since 1978, focuses this year (11 A.M. to 11 P.M.) on the great Igor’s music, from early dynamite to late 12-tone, with lots in between. Dozens of singers, actors, dancers, and instrumentalists—many well-known and many not yet—will be doing their stuff. And it’s free! The World in Flower (May 24–27; 212/875-5656; www.nyphil.org). Conductor Lorin Maazel leads the New York Philharmonic in the premiere of the cantata by American composer Peter Lieberson, featuring extraordinary mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (the composer’s wife), baritone Gerald Finley, and the New York Choral Artists. The work is the third in a series. Chicago Beginning on May 25, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (312/294-3000; www.cso.org) starts bidding a fond farewell to its music director, Daniel Barenboim, at the close of his 15-year tenure, with a wealth of old and new pieces from his repertoire. Highlights: May 25–27: the world premiere of Pierre Boulez’s Notations 5 and 6, and the third act of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal. May 30: an all–Gustav Mahler program, with Thomas Quasthoff singing Kindertotenlieder, followed by Symphony No. 5. June 9–10: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and a trio of ninth symphony pairings. June 15: Elliott Carter’s Soundings and Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. June 16: Boulez’s Notations and Anton Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony. June 17: Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and, of course, Ninth Symphony. Across the U.S. In an unprecedented collaboration between a corporate funder and nonprofit music organizations, orchestras in all 50 states will perform a new work by American composer Joan Tower. Throughout 2006 and 2007, “Made in America”—a commission by 65 orchestras and the Ford Motor Company Fund, and a collaboration with the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer— which Tower says was inspired by the patriotic anthem “America the Beautiful,” will be performed in midsize and smaller cities. Audiences can hear the work in Cambridge, Massachuetts, on April 2; Missoula, Montana, on May 6–7; Honolulu on October 13–15; and Santa Barbara, California, on October 14–15. (For a complete list of dates and cities, go to www.fordmadeinamerica.org.)—Leighton Kerner


Houston Jean Cocteau’s one-act play, The Human Voice—a telephone monologue in which a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown tries to win back her lover—has attracted such legendary performers as Anna Magnani, Ingrid Bergman, and Simone Signoret. So when, in 1958, composer Francis Poulenc made it into an opera, Cocteau wanted him to write it for soprano Maria Callas, the era’s supreme diva. But instead, Poulenc gave the tour-de-force role to his favorite prima donna, Denise Duval, a mesmerizing singer-actress who began her career at the Folies-Bergère. Now the Houston Grand Opera is following Poulenc’s example by casting Broadway star Audra McDonald in a new production of the 45-minute work. The occasion marks the operatic debut of the four-time Tony Award–winning soprano, who, although classically trained, has devoted herself to musical theater. McDonald will also sing the world premiere of Send (who are you?I love you), a short, one-woman piece about romance on the Internet, composed by Michael John LaChiusa specifically as a comedic companion for The Human Voice. (March 4–26; www.houstongrandopera.org; 713/228-6737).—Peter Webster