Our picks for the best of the new season, including the California Academy of Sciences opening, opera divas, Chanel Mobile Art, and more. Plus, quick trips to Rome, Berlin, and Mumbai.
Courtesy of Tim Griffith T+L October Culture Guide
| Credit: Courtesy of Tim Griffith

Visual Arts

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North America

New York

“Paris/New York: Design Fashion Culture 1925–1940” at the Museum of the City of New York (October 3–Februrary 22; mcny.org). Dada was not the only Parisian export that found a home in New York. The creative ferment of cross-cultural exchanges between two cradles of modernism in the 20th century—refined Paris and upstart New York—is examined through the works of architects, designers, and others, from Coco Chanel to Helena Rubenstein and Josephine Baker.

“Drawing Babar: Early Drafts and Watercolors” at the Morgan Library (through January 4; themorgan.org). This exhibition devoted to the Morgan’s Babar collection, which was acquired in 2004, shows how an orphaned pachyderm—the hero of a bedtime story told by the wife of French painter Jean de Brunhoff to the couple’s three young sons—became both king of the elephants and an international icon of childhood. On display are original illustrations for the classic series, comprising drawings and watercolors for the books by de Brunhoff and his son Laurent.

“Alfred Kubin: Drawings, 1897–1909” at the Neue Galerie (through January 26; neuegalerie.org). The first large-scale U.S. presentation of works by this visionary Viennese modernist, a contemporary of Klimt, whose hallucinatory writings and art—drawings, watercolors, and lithographs—demonstrate the influence of Goya and Munch in explorations of the darkest impulses of the unconscious.

“Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton” at the New Museum (October 8–January 11; newmuseum.org). Peyton’s explorations of beauty—intimate, jewel-like paintings of friends, family, fashion icons, and cultural heroes, from Marc Jacobs to Kurt Cobain—is surveyed in this midcareer retrospective of more than one hundred canvases, a portrait of our era.

“The Art of the Japanese Chrysanthemum” at The New York Botanical Garden (October 18–November 16; nybg.org). For the second year in a row, the most extensive collection of exquisitely cultivated chrysanthemums, or kiku, outside of Japan will be on display throughout the courtyards of the New York Botanical Garden as part of a month-long exhibition. Here, the floral crest of the Imperial Family will be in stunning form, including a chrysanthemum that is trained to produce hundreds of simultaneous blossoms in a massive dome-shaped array.

“Yaddo: Making American Culture” at the New York Public Library (October 24–February 15; nypl.org). This exhibition of letters, photographs, art, and film clips showcases the unique role that Yadoo, the artists’ retreat in upstate New York, played in fostering American creativity from the 1920’s to the 1980’s, when it was a draw for Leonard Bernstein, Carson McCullers, and Sylvia Plath. Documents range from an admissions committee note regarding Truman Capote to background correspondence on the 1939 landmark film The City that brought together film makers Ralph Steiner and Willard van Dyke, writer Lewis Mumford, and composer Aaron Copland.


"Multiple Modernities: India, 1905–2005” Philadelphia Museum of Art (through December 7; philamuseum.org). Exploring art from the colonial period to the formation of nation states, a selective group of more than 25 drawings, prints, and watercolors, including works by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, gives a wide picture of visual creativity. Other luminaries include M. F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, F. N. Souza, and contemporary art star Atul Dodiya.

Washington D.C.

“Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture Around the Bay of Naples” National Gallery of Art (October 19–March 22; nga.org). Imagine the opulent houses of the Hamptons lined with exquisite frescoes and sprinkled with classical statuary, built around gardens filled with the tinkling of bronze fountains, and you get some idea of Pompeian splendor. The remarkable culture that flourished in and around the seaside resort for Rome’s power elite, where the likes of Julius Caesar summered, is the focus of this exhibition comprising more than 150 works of sculpture, fresco, mosaic, and jewelry.


“The Louvre and the Masterpiece” High Museum of Art (October 12–September 6, 2009; high.org). What is a masterpiece?Curators at the Louvre provide an informed perspective on the evolution of taste and connoisseurship in this final installment of a three-year partnership, bringing treasures from the French capital to Atlanta. Paintings, drawings, decorative art, and sculpture on display span 4,000 years and include both Vermeer’s The Astronomer and the famed Blue Head, a 20th-century forgery once believed to be an ancient Egyptian masterwork.

New Orleans

“Prospect.1: New Orleans” (November 1–January 18; prospectneworleans.org). The largest international biennial devoted to contemporary art ever organized in the United States descends upon the post-Katrina city, with 81 cutting-edge artists from over 30 countries (including Iran and South Africa) installing work in sites ranging from galleries to warehouses, and from the French Quarter’s Historic New Orleans Collection to the abandoned houses and churches of the Lower Ninth Ward.

Birmingham, Alabama

“Leonardo Da Vinci: Drawings from the Biblioteca Reale in Turin” Birmingham Museum of Art (through November 9; artsbma.org). “The most beautiful drawing in the world,” according to art critic Bernard Berenson—a sketch for an angel in Leonardo’s Madonna of the Rocks—goes on view this month in this rare Italian loan exhibition, alongside 10 of the artist’s other anatomical renderings, fantastical visions, and acute observations of the natural world. Also included—Leonardo’s Codex on the Flight of Birds (1505–06), a bound notebook of motion studies in which his powers of invention take wing.

Berkeley, California

“Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection” University of California Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (through January 4; berkeley.edu). Swiss collector Uli Sigg’s vast holdings in contemporary Chinese art date back to the 1970’s, providing an unusually deep context for work by the country’s newly minted international art stars, such as Zhang Huan, Liu Wei, Ai Weiwei, and others.


“Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique” at the Cleveland Museum of Art (October 19–January 18; clevelandart.org). Three hundred objects of decorative art from collections around the world provide a comparison of three preeminent 20th-century designers and inaugurate the museum’s new special exhibition galleries. Notable are two works on display in the United States for the first time: the glittering Imperial Blue Serpent Egg by Fabergé, on loan from Prince Albert of Monaco and a favorite treasure of his mother Princess Grace, and Magnolia Window, a work of expressive stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Ottawa, Canada

“Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture” National Gallery of Canada (November 28–March 8; gallery.ca). Bernini’s contemporaries marveled at his “speaking likeness,” the fruit of his genius for freezing the living presence of his sitters in marble, bronze, and porphyry. Mighty popes and cardinals come to call in this groundbreaking exhibition, the first comprehensive show devoted to the transformations wrought in portrait sculpture by the artist and his followers.


New Delhi

“Still Moving Image” Devi Art Foundation (through November 2; deviartfoundation.org). A laboratory for contemporary artists, curators, and critics from throughout India, the Devi Art Foundation, displaying collections from the New Delhi-based mother-and-son team, Lekha and Anupam Poddar, opens with a daring inaugural exhibition that includes video and photography by emerging Indian artists.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Mario R. Mercado, Tanvi Chheda, and Bree Sposato.



Herzog & de Meuron, architects of Beijing’s now-famous Olympic stadium, created yet another gravity-defying building shrouded in seductive materials, this time transforming an old electrical plant on Paseo del Prado into CaixaForum Madrid, a cultural exhibition space one of Spain’s largest savings banks, Caixa Catalunya (lacaixa.es). The avant-garde Swiss duo gutted the 101-year-old brick building and capped it with a sculptural two-story addition wrapped in oxidized steel that seems to float above the street. Inside the roughly 100,000-square-foot building are two levels of galleries, an underground auditorium for lectures, concerts, and film screenings, and a top-floor café overlooking Madrid’s Paseo del Prado and Botanical Garden. Admission is free.

North America

New York

The Museum of Art and Design (madmuseum.org), formerly the American Craft Museum, opened on September 27. The long-vacant 1964 Edward Durrell Stone-designed building at 2 Columbus Circle, dubbed the “lollipop building” by the architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable because of its idiosyncratic street-level colonnade, has been transformed by architect Brad Cloepfil, who sliced through the facade and carved out slender bands, fitted with clear and patterned glass, to brighten the interior. The transformed building, newly skinned in 22,000 glazed terra cotta tiles, has expanded exhibition galleries on four floors, a renovated 148-seat theater, and a ninth-floor restaurant with Central Park views that is opening in early 2009. Inaugural exhibitions: “Elegant Armor: The Art of Jewelry” and “Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary,” a show consisting of found and reused materials by artists and designers as wide-ranging as Fred Wilson, Ingo Maurer, and Do Ho Suh.

Washington D.C.

The Newseum (newseum.org) bills itself as the world’s largest museum of journalism—so fittingly, the sleek facade along Pennsylvania Avenue features a 74-foot-tall marble engraving of the First Amendment and an immense glass wall through which pedestrians can see into the museum and its atrium, where a giant LED screen shows current and breaking news. The 250,000-square-foot building, designed by New York–based Polshek Partnership Architects and inaugurated this spring, fills a prominent spot on Pennsylvania Avenue across the avenue from the National Gallery of Art. Inside, in 14 galleries distributed over seven floors, visitors can examine state-of-the-art exhibits that trace 500 years of news coverage from pamphlets and historic newspapers to the evolving electronic media, read daily postings of the front pages of 80 national and international newspapers from around the globe, and enact the role of news reporter in an interactive TV studio.

Dumbarton Oaks (doaks.org), the Harvard-affiliated museum and gardens on the former estate of Robert and Mildred Bliss in Georgetown, has recently completed an eight-year renovation of its 16-acre property, including the 19th-century mansion, filled with treasures of European and Asian art, and the music room designed by McKim, Mead, & White; the museum wing of Bzyantine art; and a 1963 pavilion for pre-Columbian artifacts, designed by Philip Johnson. The Blisses were known for their support of music and musicians (they commissioned Stravinsky, a friend, to write the concerto Dumbarton Oaks for their 30th wedding anniversary) and the presentation of house concerts; the tradition continues with monthly public concerts organized by Friends of Music. The season begins on October 26 with a program of virtuoso works performed by the Baroque ensemble Musica Pacifica.


At the Rhode Island School of Design (risd.edu), the newly opened Chace Center—a five-story glass-and-brick building designed by architect Rafael Moneo as part of the Museum of Art—has more than 6,000 square feet for temporary exhibitions, some of which is devoted to the cutting-edge work of its students. The center debuts with an exhibition showcasing a site-specific installation by RISD alum Dale Chihuly.


More than 60 years after moving to Los Angeles, Frank Gehry is coming home. The Pritzker Prize—winning architect’s first building in his native Toronto, a $276 million expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario (ago.net), opens November 14. Gehry added a sweeping 600-foot-long glass and Douglas fir prow to the existing museum’s Dundas Street façade (inside is a soaring, sunlit sculpture gallery) and a four-story titanium-and-glass gallery wing for contemporary art at the rear, overlooking Grange Park. Inside, an off-kilter spiral stair winds through an interior courtyard linking the old and new structures. One third of the 4,000 permanent works on view for the museum’s reopening are new gifts and acquisitions, including Rubens' The Massacre of the Innocents, shown for the first time in Toronto.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Mario R. Mercado, Tanvi Chheda, and Bree Sposato.



Creditors Donmar Warehouse (through November 15; donmarwarehouse.com). Following the success of its revival of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, the Donmar turns to Strindberg’s tragicomedy about obsession, mistrust, and moral debts between a recently married couple and a mysterious stranger. Alan Rickman, known for his staging of My Name is Rachel Corie, directs the new version by acclaimed playwright David Greig, which features Owen Teale and Anna Chancellor.

Oedipus (opens October 8; nationaltheatre.org.uk). Ralph Fiennes in the title role and Clare Higgins as Jocasta star in Jonathan Kent’s production of the Sophocles epic tragedy.

Ivanov Donmar Warehouse (through November 29; donmarwarehouse.com). Kenneth Branagh portrays Chekhov’s compelling character of squandered promise, failing finances, and romantic despair in a staging by Michael Grandage, artistic director of the Donmar. One of the playwright’s early and rarely performed dramas, Ivanov, presented in a new version by Tom Stoppard, is the first of four Donmar productions to be presented in the West End at Wyndham’s Theatre.

No Man’s Land Duke of York’s Theatre (through January 3; theambassadors.com). Harold Pinter’s witty tragicomedy about two aging writers of different accomplishment and a pair of shady characters who watch over the success of the two has become one of the dramatist’s most enduring plays, partly because of the plum roles for actors. This production offers some of the best: Michael Gambon and David Bradley as sparring intellectuals.

War Horse National Theatre (opens Sept. 27; nationaltheatre.org.uk). Last season’s surprise theatrical event, returns to the National’s Olivier Theatre. The production by Mariane Elliott and Tom Morris of Michael Morpurgo’s heartrending drama of a boy and the horse he follows onto the battlefields of World War I is an affecting adventure that employs puppetry and spectacle on a grand scale.

North America

New York

The Seagull Walter Kerr Theatre (opens October 1; telecharge.com). Ian Rickson’s acclaimed West End production starring Kristin Scott Thomas (in her Broadway debut) makes the transatlantic transfer, with Peter Saarsgard and Art Malik among a first-rate cast in the Chekov classic.

13, A New Musical Jacobs Theatre (opens October 5; 13themusical.com). This rock musical about a New York teenager who, after his parents' divorce, moves to Indiana with his mother, facing the challenges of a new school and its social hierarchy (geeks to jocks and everything in between), has a 13-member cast, comprised of 13-year-olds. The pangs of growing may never have such an authentic ring. Music and lyrics are by Jason Robert Brown, Tony Award-winning composer of Parade; Dan Elish and Robert Horn collaborated on the book.

All My Sons Schoenfeld Theatre (opens October 16; allmysonsonbroadway.com). Arthur Miller’s World War II drama about a failure of moral responsibility and its familial consequences has a starry cast: John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson, and Katie Holmes, and one of today’s great stage directors, Simon McBurney.

Speed-the-Plow Ethel Barrymore Theatre (opens October 23; speedtheplowonbroadway.com). Jeremy Piven and Raúl Esparza are rival film producers in David Mamet’s acid comedy about Hollywood hustling. Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) provokes the conflict between them in this 20th-anniversary revival.

Road Show Public Theater (October 28-December 28; publictheater.org). John Doyle, who worked his magic on innovative stagings of Sweeney Todd and Company, faces a new challenge with the latest version of the Sondheim and John Weidman collaboration (Sam Mendes and Hal Prince staged earlier incarnations entitled Bounce, Wise Guys, and Gold!). Road Show, based on a true story, follows the lives of the two Mizner brothers over a span of 40 years, from the Alaska Gold Rush to the Florida real estate boom of the 1930’s.

Billy Elliot Imperial Theater (opens November 13; billyelliotthemusical.com). Lee Hall’s prize-winning film, set during the Thatcher years, about a blue-collar boy from a coal-mining family with an iron-will determination to dance, is brought to the stage by the film’s director, Stephen Daldry. Elton John wrote the musical score. A hit in London where the three boys who alternated in the title role collectively won an Olivier Award for best actor, the New York production is also cast with a trio of talent in the title role.

Shrek: The Musical Broadway Theater (opens December 14; shrekthemusical.com). Everyone’s favorite ugly beast with a heart of gold is the star of his own Broadway spectacle, starring Brian d'Arcy James as the very green title character, with Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona and Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad. Book and lyrics are by David Lindsay-Abaire, who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for his drama Rabbit Hole; Jeanine Tesori composed the scassessed ore for the family show with a satiric edge.


Kafka on the Shore Steppenwolf Theatre (through November 16; steppenwolf.org). When director Frank Galati adapted Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath the result was a theatrical sensation in Chicago, on Broadway, and in London. This season Galati has set his sights on the fantastical novel by Haruki Murakami, with its interrelated stories of youth and maturity, set in modern-day Japan.

San Diego

Tobacco Road La Jolla Playhouse (through October 21; lajollaplayhouse.org). To launch his inaugural season, newly appointed artistic director Christopher Ashley has chosen to produce the longest running play in Broadway history (1933–1941). In the 1930’s it was considered shocking and depraved; in the context of contemporary daytime television, its dramatic punch will be newly assessed. Jack Kirkland’s adaptation of Erskine Caldwell’s potboiler, with its rural Georgia setting, receives a rare revival under David Schweizer’s direction.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Mario R. Mercado, Tanvi Chheda, and Bree Sposato.



“Festival d'Automne: Gérard Pesson and Karlheinz Stockhausen” (October 5–December 14; festival-automne.com). It will be interesting to see whether the late maverick Karlheinz Stockhausen will emerge more clearly as a 20th-century master now that the eccentric but influential composer is no longer with us. The Festival d'Automne is offering audiences a chance to find out with several Stockhausen concerts, including the second act of the opera Donnerstag, from the towering seven-opera cycle Licht. The other featured composer on the fall program is the intriguing but much-less-well-known 50-year-old Frenchman Gérard Pesson.


“From the Canyons to the Stars: The Music of Olivier Messiaen” Royal Festival Hall (October 6–December 10; southbankcenter.co.uk). Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the pianist who has won a nearly reverential following for his brilliant interpretations of contemporary music, is the director of a festival honoring the work of his maverick compatriot, who wrote sweet, spiritual, and unique music circling around themes like birdsong, love, and his Catholic faith, and who would have been 100 this year. Highlights include three concerts by the Philharmonia Orchestra in October, a chamber recital with pianist Mitsuko Uchida and other artists, and Pierre Boulez conducting Aimard and the Ensemble Intercontemporain in December.


Eugene Onegin Staatsoper unter den Linden (through October 25; staatsoper-berlin.de). Tchaikovsky’s opera is popular this season; but the Staatsoper production should be a standout among several new stagings around the world. Conducted by Daniel Barenboim, Onegin is staged by the innovative director Achim Freyer, and features two of today’s male star singers, tenor Rolando Villazón (as Lenski) and bass René Pape (as Gremin).

“Do Something” Tempelhof Airport (November 9; tuwas-berlin.de). The 70th anniversary on November 9 of Kristallnacht, the infamous night in which synagogues and Jewish businesses were destroyed in 1938 throughout Germany and Austria, will be marked by a memorial concert that brings together leading classical, jazz, and rock musicians and actors in an evening of collaborative performance. The program, led by violinist Daniel Hope, takes place in one of the former Berlin airports, and features singers Thomas Quasthoff, pianists Hélène Grimaud, Menachem Pressler, popular singers Max Raabe and actor Klaus Maria Brandauer.


Faust Staatsoper (October 11–26; wiener-staatsoper.de). Charles Gounod’s sentimental version of Goethe’s classic is a dream vehicle for the artists occasionally known as the “Love Couple,” soprano Angela Gheorghiu and tenor Roberto Alagna, whose voices make the score soar. Bertrand de Billy conducts.


Parsifal Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (October 25–November 7; lesarts.com). The legendary Lorin Maazel is in his last season as music director of this new arts complex, and this production of Wagner’s final opera is worthy of his caliber. The German film director Werner Herzog will direct some current Wagnerian stars, including Christopher Ventris in the title role and Katarina Dalayman as Kundry (with Violeta Urmana taking over for the last two performances).


“Sounds from Europe” (through November 8; milanomusica.org). The 17th-annual edition of the Milano Musica festival is devoted to cutting-edge composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, their music played in venues around the city by ensembles from all over Europe. At the opening concert at La Scala, the Filarmonica della Scala goes back through the generations, from 40-year-old Jon Øivind Ness to sixtyish Peter Eötvös to the late centenarian Olivier Messaien to a radical from days gone by, Franz Liszt. Also on the program: music by Stockhausen and Nono, Henze, and Sciarrino: some radical, some tough, many of them contemporary classics.

Don Carlo Teatro alla Scala (December 4–January 15; la-scala-milan.com). Many think it is Verdi’s finest opera, and for its annual season opener on the Feast of St. Ambrose, La Scala has stocked it with some of its finest stars, including Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II, Dolora Zajick as Eboli, and Giuseppe Filianoti, who takes on the title role; Daniele Gatti conducts.


Boris Godunov Semper Opera (December 17–January 3; semperoper.de). There are no fewer than four productions of Mussorgsky’s masterwork this fall. The other three are in London, San Francisco, and Amsterdam, but Dresden’s takes the prize for having René Pape, probably the greatest bass singing today, in the title role (the fourth-act aria from Godunov is one among the highlights of Pape’s new recording, Gods, Kings & Demons, on the Deutsche Grammophon label, due out on November 11.)


Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Rajasthan International Folk Festival (October 10–14; jodhpurfolkfestival.org). From Qawwali-style singing, characterized by a playful interchange between a solo performer and a chorus to a rare recital by the preeminent musician Ustad Sultan Khan, who has collaborated with Ravi Shankar, the lineup at the second annual Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) showcases the fullest range of Rajasthani folk music and talent. Performances take place in the evening on the terraces of the Mehrangarh Fort, which is being kept open especially for the festival.

North America

New York

“Leonard Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds” (through December 13; carnegiehall.org). The New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall team up for a festival devoted to the beloved American composer. Highlights include conductor Alan Gilbert leading his future orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, on November 14, and the composer’s conglomerate, cross-genre, yet marvelous Mass, with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, on October 24. As part of the proceedings, New York City Center (nycitycenter.org) presents Bernstein’s musical On the Town, as part of its “Encores!” series November 19–23.

Doctor Atomic Metropolitan Opera (October 13–November 13; metopera.org). John Adams has become one of America’s leading composers, and certainly its most active opera composer, known for taking on political themes with contemporary relevance (Nixon in China). His penultimate opera is the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer; three years after its world premiere in San Francisco, the Met is giving it a new high-profile production by the director Penny Woolcock rather than Adams’s usual collaborator and the librettist of this piece, Peter Sellars. Alan Gilbert, the conductor, will make his Metropolitan Opera debut. Movado Hour (December 5; bacnyc.org) On a much smaller scale, the Baryshnikov Arts Center, in New York’s Hell Kitchen neighborhood, presents a series of eight one-hour chamber music concerts by established and up-and-coming performers during the 2008–09 season. Sponsored by the Movado Group corporation, the concerts are free. Violinist Jennifer Frautschi, violist Beatrice Muthelet, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein perform works by Kodály and Beethoven in the December program.

“Beethoven Concerts” Metropolitan Museum of Art (from November 8; metmuseum.org). Beethoven takes center stage this season in programs in the museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. On December 5, the exceptional Austrian pianist Till Fellner launches a three-year traversal of the complete 32 sonatas (followed by programs in March and May). The string quartets, a form Beethoven cultivated throughout his life, are presented in concerts by six different string quartets from the United States and abroad. Next up on January 22 is the Zurich-based Stradivari Quartett in its only New York appearance. And making their farewell season at the MET after 43 years is the celebrated Guarneri Quartet, which will offer no Beethoven, but will, beginning on November 8, present programs that show the range of the quartet literature from Haydn to Bartók.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Mario R. Mercado, Tanvi Chheda, and Bree Sposato.



Giselle Royal Danish Ballet (October 1–25; kglteater.dk). Internationally acclaimed classical dancer Nikolaj Hübbe, recently retired from the New York City Ballet, is the artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet. As his calling card, Hübbe and associate Sorella Englund present a new production of Giselle, the celebrated romantic tale of betrayed love, retribution, forgiveness, and sacrifice.


Three Short Works The Royal Ballet Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (October 28–November 10; roh.org.uk). Britain’s Royal Ballet offers a winning bill with two Balanchine masterworks set to Tchaikovsky, the moonswept Serenade and the imperial showpiece Theme and Variations, bookending L’Invitation au Voyage, a moody suite by England’s Michael Corder, which is set to five Henri Duparc songs (sung by a mezzo-soprano and is worked into the choreography).

Romeo & Juliet, On Motifs of Shakespeare Mark Morris Dance Group Barbican Centre (November 5–8; barbican.org.uk). This modern-dance distillation of a ballet classic takes viewers back to the Prokofiev work’s earliest intentions, incorporating the happy ending first envisioned by the composer for his dance piece inspired by Shakespeare’s stage work. Morris’s company of individuals does him proud as it finds the wit and wisdom in what he’s devised to make this tale of woe fresh again.

North America


All Tharp Pacific Northwest Ballet (October 2–5; pnb.org). Sinatra Songs, a ballroom display originally staged by Twyla Tharp for Mikhail Baryshnikov has become a ballet classic; it shares a program with two premieresby the indefatigable choreographer who sets her sights on the old music of Brahms and on the new music of the Russian Vladimir Martynov. The company continues its commitment to new work November 6 to 16 with premieres by choreographers Kiyon Gaines and Benjamin Millepied.


Swan Lake Miami City Ballet Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, (October 17–19; miamicityballet.org). Not your grandmother’s classic, this 1951 one-act encapsulation by George Balanchine remade what all the world thought it knew about this masterwork, with Tchaikovsky’s evocative music, into an electrifying concentration of the moonlit world of the white swan. The Miami City Ballet staging tours South Florida: it goes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, in Ft. Lauderdale (November 7–9), and to the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, in West Palm Beach (November 14–16).

New York

Steve Reich Evening Brooklyn Academy of Music (October 22–25; bam.org). One of the brighter lights of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival is a program bringing together Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dance-making and Reich’s music-making. Four facets make up this bill, which also includes the music of György Ligeti, with the postmodern-dance choreographer’s newest work, which also explores Reich’s bold Four Organs composition.

What do you see?Beth Gill The Kitchen (November 20–22; thekitchen.org). This performance for four dancers, from the hand, eye, and brain of the intriguing movement-experimentalist Beth Gill, promises to take audiences into the inner workings of the Kitchen’s intimate physical space as an expansive aesthetic adventure. The dance piece marks Gill’s first evening-long work, a decisive step in her budding career.

Berkely, California

Merce Cunningham Dance Company University of California, Berkeley (Cal Performances; November 7–15; calperformances.org). Of the seven works making up four programs for the Cal Performancesseries, choosing a favorite Cunningham masterwork isn't easy, but the ever-experimental octogenarian hit extra-potent paydirt of his 1999 work BIPED, which blends the dancers’ movements with digital imagery, and in the vibrating color display conjured by his eyeSpace, made in 2006–07.

Washington, D.C.

San Francisco Ballet Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (November 25–30; kennedy-center.org). Taking its 75th-anniversary celebrations on the road, the ballet troupe hits the Kennedy Center running. Specially commissioned works by Mark Morris (Joyride, set to music by John Adams) and Christopher Wheeldon (Within the Golden Hour, with music by Ezio Bosso), join a Balanchine classic, The Four Temperaments; the company’s traditional production ofartistic director Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle completes the festive week.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Mario R. Mercado, Tanvi Chheda, and Bree Sposato.

From Baroque sacred music in Spanish-colonial California to the piano music of 20th-century French iconoclast Olivier Messiaen, the fall season brings recording releases evocative of time and place.

Mission Road

Warner Classics

Marking its 31st season, the San Francisco-based vocal ensemble Chanticleer investigates the expressive but unknown repertory of Baroque choral music cultivated by Spanish and Mexican composers for the Franciscan mission churches that lined the King’s Highway, in what was then Alta California.


Virgin Classics

Emmanuelle Haïm leads the period-instrument group Le Concert d’Astrée and a dream team of singers, including Natalie Dessay, Véronique Gens, Philippe Jaroussky, and Rolando Villazón, in a ravishing recording of lamenti, dramatic musical scenes of heightened emotional content, by the 17th-century composer Claudio Monteverdi and his contemporaries.

Benjamin Britten: Billy Budd

Virgin Classics

Last year in London, the Barbican Centre and the London Symphony Orchestra organized concert performances of Britten’s opera Billy Budd, based on the Melville novella. The cast was choice: baritone Nathan Gunn as Budd, Gidon Saks as Claggart—embodiments of good and evil, respectively—and the tenor Ian Bostridge as Captain Vere, the narrator at the center of the music drama.

Rinaldo Alessandrini and the Concerto Italiano/Masses of Scarlatti and Pergolesi


The 10-year-old French record label Naive has earned special success with lavishly beautiful and revelatory recordings of less-explored corners of music repertory. The latest: a pair of masses written for the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome that document the musical life of the Eternal City in the 18th century and that are performed with authority by the Rome-based Rinaldo Alessandrini and his period-music group the Concerto Italiano.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard: Hommage à Messiaen

Deutsche Grammophon; release date: October 14

The French pianist, known for his probing intellect and dazzling virtuosity, offers a range of his compatriot’s unique music in the composer’s 100th-anniversary year, a tribute to Messiaen and a gift to listeners (See our music listings for details about the two-month Messiaen festival, organized by Aimard, at London’s Royal Festival Hall, beginning in early October).

René Pape: Gods, Kings, & Demons

Deutsche Grammophon; release date: November 11

The exceptional German bass singer makes every role he assumes—Wotan to Mefistofele—seem definitive and wholly new. This collection of arias by Wagner, Mussorgsky, Boito, and others are from operas for which Papé is justly celebrated. Pape appears at the Metropolitan Opera as King Marke in Tristan & Isolde, November 28–December 2, and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at Dresden’s Semper Opera, December 17–January 3 (See our music listings for details).

Yo-Yo Ma & Friends: Songs of Joy & Peace

Sony BMG Masterworks; release: October 14

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has recorded his instrument’s classical repertoire impeccably, and is the force behind the Silk Road Project, a multinational musician’s collective that performs, commissions, and records music from the cultures along the old Silk Road route. Now he turns his attention to what may be described, though only feebly, as a holiday album; it is much, much more. Alongside interpretations of “Joy to the World,” with Dave and Matt Brubeck and Paquito d'Rivera, and the “Wexford Carol,” sung by Alison Cross, there are beguiling collaborations: Diana Krall’s take on “You Couldn't be Cuter” by Jerome Kern, and an instrumental duet of “My One and Only Love” with saxophonist Joshua Redman that soars.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Mario R. Mercado, Tanvi Chheda, and Bree Sposato.