Noseda takes the reins at NSO; “Alcina,” “Don Carlo” and “Candide” on tap at WNO in Kennedy Center’s 2017-18 season
The Kennedy Center announced its 2017-2018 season on Monday, timed so that Gianandrea Noseda, the incoming music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, could talk up his first season with the ensemble.
According to materials released by the NSO, the season includes eight works performed by the NSO for the first time. That list is headed most importantly by The Gospel According to the Other Mary, the Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio from 2012, which will feature on a tribute concert honoring John Adams in March 2018. Noseda’s interest in lesser-known Italian modernists is expressed in the first performance of Luigi Dallapiccola’s Partita, scheduled for November 2017.
Noseda launches the season officially this summer, starting with a performance of Orff’s Carmina Burana July 28 in the Filene Center at Wolf Trap. The following day he will lead the NSO in a free, public performance on the National Mall. “That weekend,” said Noseda enthusiastically, “we will begin our journey to bring music to the widest possible audience and build upon that throughout my first season together with my fellow musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra.”
The new music director will conduct eight of the 22 programs on the NSO’s subscription series, plus the regular season-opening gala September 24, with cellist Yo-Yo Ma as soloist, and a special concert for the SHIFT Festival at the Kennedy Center with Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in April 2018. A roster of guest conductors will also conduct, including return engagements by Donald Runnicles, Marek Janowski, Hannu Lintu, Mark Elder, Nathalie Stutzmann, and former NSO music director Leonard Slatkin. Outgoing music director Christoph Eschenbach will be featured in a series of three concerts to end the season.
Also this season the NSO will mark the centennial of American composer Leonard Bernstein, devoting the season opening gala to his music as well as later performances of his Songfest, Divertimento, and Second Symphony (“The Age of Anxiety”). A noteworthy conducting debut will be Jeannette Sorrell, director of the early music ensemble Apollo’s Fire, who will lead this season’s annual performances of Handel’s Messiah. As part of a season-long residency, violinist Leila Josefowicz will perform a chamber music program on the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts series, as well as playing violin concertos by Oliver Knussen and Igor Stravinsky.
Other highlights include the debut of conductor Fabien Gabel, music director of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra with cellist Alban Gerhardt in Bloch’s Schelemo, Rachmaninoff’s The Rock, and Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony; Cristian Măcelaru conducting Cameron Carpenter as soloist in Copland’s Symphony No. 1; and the NSO’s first performances of Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad and the Third Symphony of Vaughan Williams.
In an unusual gesture, the NSO is co-hosting a guest performance by the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia from Rome, with Antonio Pappano conducting music by Verdi, Prokofiev, and Respighi. The elusive pianist Martha Argerich, recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor award this year, is scheduled to perform as soloist.
Washington National Opera brings more interesting developments than the NSO next season. Baroque opera returns to the Kennedy Center Opera House after a regrettable absence, with the company’s belated first production of Handel’s Alcina in November 2017. Angela Meade, a knockout in her performance in the WNO Norma in 2013, will have her first run at the title role, joined by an excellent cast that includes Ying Fang, Elisabeth DeShong, and Daniela Mack. Jane Glover will make her company debut at the podium, in this production planned for the Eisenhower Theater, an unusual choice.
Leah Crocetto, Jamie Barton, Eric Owens, and Russell Thomas team up for the company’s first production of Verdi’s Don Carlo in two decades (March 2018), which will be conducted by WNO music director Philippe Auguin. Less interesting choices include another Verdi opera, Aida, Rossini’s Barber of Seville, as well as an ill-advised return to music theater with Bernstein’s Candide. And Missy Mazzoli, whose opera Breaking the Waves was a critical success at Philadelphia Opera this year, will premiere a new hour-long work through the auspices of the American Opera Initiative, Proving Up (January 2018), working with the same librettist as her last opera, Royce Vavrek.
All listeners will be happy when the Kennedy Center finally completes the renovation of the Terrace Theater, announced for September or October 2017. That would be just in time for the new season of the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts series, which will open with a program of chamber music for duet, quartet, sextet, and octet combining the Emerson and Dover Quartets, plus pianists Lisa Emenheiser and Joseph Kalichstein. The series will also help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sphinx Organization and its mission of supporting diversity in the arts.
Other noteworthy Fortas appearances include the beloved Takács Quartet, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, and cellist Steven Isserlis. At opposite historical ends, soprano Dawn Upshaw and Sō Percussion will collaborate in George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny and in a new piece by Caroline Shaw (April 2018), while esteemed violinist Isabelle Faust will join the excellent Canadian ensemble Les Violons du Roy for an all-Bach program (May 2018).