Kennedy Center announces feast (symphony and chamber music) and famine (opera) for 2023-2024 season

Thu Mar 09, 2023 at 12:25 pm

Gianandrea Noseda will take the National Symphony Orchestra on the first international tour of his tenure in the 2023-24 season.

The Kennedy Center announced exciting plans for classical music and opera in the 2023-2024 season Thursday. After the coronavirus canceled the National Symphony Orchestra’s planned tour to China and Japan in the spring of 2020, the Kennedy Center’s lead ensemble will at last make its first international tour under music director Gianandrea Noseda. The group will visit Spain, Germany, and Italy from February 16 to 28, 2024, including a stop at the Teatro Alla Scala in Noseda’s home town of Milan. Pianist Seong-Jin Cho and violinist Hilary Hahn will join as soloists on the tour.

Noseda will celebrate his 60th birthday during what will be his seventh season with the NSO, the first under new executive director Jean Davidson. Here at home the season is partly focused on the three formative influences of Noseda’s career, with concerts devoted to composers from America, Russia, and Italy: Carlos Simon’s Fate Now Conquers (September 23), Rachmaninoff’s The Rock and The Bells (September 28 to 30), and Respighi’s Roman Trilogy (October 5 to 7).

Lastly, Noseda gives a nod to his work conducting opera by committing to performing an opera in concert each season, beginning with Verdi’s Otello (June 7 and 9, 2024). That event will be preceded by another season highlight for Noseda, Mahler’s Seventh Symphony (May 30 to June 1). New music next season will include NSO commissions from Adolphus Hailstork’s JFK: The Last Speech (October 26 and 28), Tania León’s Pasajes (November 2 to 4), Carlos Simon’s Concerto for Orchestra (January 25 to 27), a new Saxophone Concerto by Billy Childs (April 11 to 13), Bryce Dessner’s Mari (May 9 to 11), and This Moment by Anna Clyne (May 16 to 19).

Star soloists announced for the season include violinists James Ehnes (who will headline the NSO’s return to Carnegie Hall on February 12) and Randall Goosby; and pianists Fazil Say, Yefim Bronfman, Lise de la Salle, Benjamin Grosvenor, and Orion Weiss. Firebrand Yuja Wang will brave Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2, under 22-year-old Finnish conductor Tarmo Peltokoski, making a noteworthy debut (November 9 to 12).

Other guest conductors will include Michael Tilson Thomas, Xian Zhang, Simone Young, Manfred Honeck (leading Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony on May 2 to 4), Daniele Rustioni, Dima Slobodeniouk, as well as early music specialists Laurence Equilbey (leading Handel’s Messiah on December 14 to 17) and Bernard Labadie. Joshua Bell inaugurates the new season, conducting music of Mendelssohn and also serving as soloist in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (September 15 and 16).


In what appears to be the new normal, Washington National Opera will again mount just three operas at its home venue, electing not to return to its pre-pandemic number of productions. The 2023-2024 season will open with the world premiere of Grounded, a new opera composed by Jeanine Tesori and co-produced with the Metropolitan Opera (October 28 to November 13). Daniela Candillari will conduct a cast starring mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, in this story about an elite female fighter pilot banished to flying drones when she becomes pregnant (libretto by George Brant, based on his recent play).

Radiant soprano Rosa Feola makes her anticipated WNO debut in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, conducted by Evan Rogister (November 4 to 18). Speranza Scappucci will conduct Puccini’s Turandot, fitted out with the world premiere of a new ending for the opera by composer Christopher Tin and librettist Susan Soon He Stanton (May 11 to 25). The latter will star Ewa Płonka, Yonghoon Lee, and the remarkable Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha as Liù.

A fourth production, Offenbach’s opéra-bouffe La Périchole, will be relegated to the Eisenhower Theater. Isabel Leonard will star in this jazz-infused adaptation arranged and orchestrated by James Lowe, who will also conduct (March 9 to 23). A holiday opera (Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me) and an evening of three 20-minute operas presented by the American Opera Initiative will take place in the Terrace Theater.

The Opera House will host some of the expected regular visits by ballet companies, including American Ballet Theatre, performing Swan Lake (February 21 to 25); Sydney Dance Company accompanied by the Australian String Quartet performing a recent score by Bryce Dessner (April 25 to 27); and New York City Ballet performing Balanchine’s Jewels (June 4 to 9). These will all feature music performed live.


Jennifer Koh makes her presence known as the incoming artistic director of the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts series. The violinist appears twice on the series, first with her teacher, violinist Jaime Laredo, and members of the Juilliard Orchestra in a program combining Bach and Mozart with contemporary composers (December 1). Koh then joins composer and pianist Missy Mazzoli for an evening devoted to Mazzoli’s music (March 1).

Major events will include recitals by violinist Augustin Hadelich and pianist Orion Weiss (October 15), the Emerson String Quartet (in its final KC appearance on October 20), violinist Maxim Vengerov and pianist Polina Osetinskaya (November 14), bass-baritone Bryn Terfel (November 19), the Takács Quartet (January 25), and the Dover Quartet with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes (April 23).

Carlos Simon and Hub New Music will perform his poignant work Requiem for the Enslaved, composed to commemorate the tragic sale of enslaved people by the Jesuits of Georgetown University, along with new works by Tyshawn Sorey and others (March 14). This concert will be one of several to take the Fortas series out of its traditional venue, the Terrace Theater, and into the new space known as The Club at Studio K, in the Reach annex.

Subscriptions for the 2023-2024 NSO, WNO, Fortas, and dance seasons at the Kennedy Center are on sale today.

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