Critic’s Choice 2022-23

Tue Sep 13, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb will perform a recital for Vocal Arts DC December 8. Photo: Fay Fox

David T. Little’s Black Lodge. Opera Philadelphia. October 1

Just a couple hours north in the City of Brotherly Love is this fall’s Festival O22, a smorgasbord of experimental and unusual works from Opera Philadelphia. In addition to stagings of Rossini’s Otello and Hosokawa’s The Raven, the company will give the world premiere of Black Lodge, a new opera by David T. Little. Steeped in the surreal worlds of William S. Burroughs, the work combines a film screening, industrial rock, classical string quartet, and opera.

Jean Rondeau. Capriccio Baroque. October 26

This talented young French harpsichordist, who released his second recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations earlier this year, has said, “I will no doubt spend my life working on them.” As part of a fine season of intimate harpsichord recitals, Capriccio Baroque offers a chance to hear Rondeau’s latest interpretation of this masterwork, in a complete performance without intermission in a small venue downtown.

Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. Washington Concert Opera. December 4

Here comes another year of Washington Concert Opera performing operas one is unlikely to hear anywhere else in town. First on its season is Donizetti’s English history opera Roberto Devereux, starring tenor René Barbera and Italian soprano Roberta Mantegna, the latter in her U.S. debut. Baritone Ricardo José Rivera, in another company debut, and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong portray the Duke and Duchess of Nottingham.

Rihab Chaieb and Brian Zeger. Vocal Arts DC. December 8

Mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb is a strong draw in a five-concert season from Vocal Arts DC. With pianist Brian Zeger, she will sing Robert Schumann’s Maria Stuart-Lieder, Ravel’s Chants Populaires and Shéhérazade, as well as songs by Bizet, Aubert, and Golijov. The pair will also give the world premiere of works by Canadian composer Matthew Ricketts, as well as Arabic songs reflecting Chaieb’s roots in Tunisia, accompanied by guitar.

Emerson String Quartet. Barns at Wolf Trap. December 9

The Emerson String Quartet has decided to disband at the end of this season. The much-respected ensemble will bid adieu with a farewell concert tour that makes its one local stop in the Barns at Wolf Trap, on the chamber music series shepherded by pianist Wu Han. The program is devoted to Beethoven, a composer the Emersons have surveyed time and again. After String Quartet No. 8, the group has its last word with String Quartet No. 13, crowned by the final movement Beethoven originally composed for it, now known as the “Grosse Fuge.”

Susanna Mälkki will conduct the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra May 8, 2023, presented by Washington Performing Arts. Photo: Jiyang Chen

Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers. Virginia Opera. February 4-5, 2023

Virginia Opera finally brings this promising new opera by Virginia-born composer Gregory Spears to the area. Based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel, the plot even unfolds here in Washington, a gay love story set during the repressive 1950s of the Joseph McCarthy era. Joseph Lattanzi and Andres Acosta star in a production directed by Kevin Newbury, with members of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adam Turner.

Bach Collegium Japan led by Masaaki Suzuki, with Roderick Williams. February 11

After two and a half years of Covid uncertainty, the free concert series at the Library of Congress is returning to in-person performances, in one of the city’s best acoustics. One of many highlights will be the return of Bach Collegium Japan. Masaaki Suzuki conducts Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2, and baritone Roderick Williams sings a Telemann cantata, Erquicktes Herz, sei voller Freuden, as well as Bach’s moving cantata No. 82, “Ich habe genug.”

Manuel de Falla’s El retablo de maese Pedro. PostClassical Ensemble led by Angel Gil-Ordóñez. April 19

Over the summer Joseph Horowitz stepped down from his role as executive producer of PostClassical Ensemble, leaving music director Angel Gil-Ordóñez as sole leader of the group. His first season concludes with a program devoted to Falla’s chamber opera El retablo de maese Pedro, coinciding with the work’s centenary. The opera, performed with animation synched with the score, is paired with the world premiere of Derek Goldman’s Entwined, about the friendship between Falla and the poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra led by Jonathon Heyward, with Khatia Buniatishvili. May 4-7

Eyes will be on this orchestra to the north when Jonathon Heyward takes the reins of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as music director next season. The young conductor gives Charm City another preview with two programs in May. At the first of them, he will pair Tania Léon’s Pasajes and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, a characteristic juxtaposition of old and new. Pianist Khatia Buniatishvili stars as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra led by Susanna Mälkki, with Claire Chase. May 8

Washington Performing Arts crowns a worthy season with a rare visit from one of Finland’s premiere ensembles, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. The program, too, is all Finnish, in this concert at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Susanna Mälkki conducts Sibelius’s Second Symphony and “Lemminkäinen’s Return,” a movement from the composer’s Four Legends suite. Claire Chase is soloist in L’Aile du songe, a flute concerto by Kaija Saariaho.

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