Critic’s Choice 2023-24

Mon Sep 04, 2023 at 2:15 pm

Rene Orth’s Ten Days in a Madhouse will receive its world  premiere at Opera Philadelphia September 21.

Rene Orth’s Ten Days in a Madhouse. Opera Philadelphia. September 21-30.

Opera lovers in Washington who feel starved by the reduced offerings from the city’s leading company should make the trek north to Opera Philadelphia for this year’s Festival O23. Heading the two-week lineup is the world premiere of Ten Days in a Madhouse by Rene Orth. The libretto by Hannah Moscovitch tells the story of reporter Nellie Bly, who went undercover as a patient in an asylum, exposing the medical establishment’s biases against women. Kiera Duffy, Raehann Bryce-Davis, and Will Liverman star.

Meta4 String Quartet. Library of Congress. October 18.

The free concerts at the Library of Congress have long been a jewel of Washington’s classical music scene. This eminent series returns to its home in the Coolidge Auditorium, after extensive water damage from a malfunctioning sprinkler system closed it to the public for much of last season. One of many highlights will be the Meta4 String Quartet, an adventurous Finnish group that visits the U.S. rarely, in a striking program of quartets by Shostakovich and Sibelius, as well as Terra Memoria by late Kaija Saariaho, which she dedicated to “those departed.”

Couperin’s Ariane consolée par Bacchus. Opera Lafayette. October 25.

Opera Lafayette announced this summer that Patrick Dupre Quigley will succeed Ryan Brown as its artistic director, when the group’s beloved long-time leader steps down officially in 2025. Brown is dialing back his involvement already this year, instead curating a season of performances led by an exciting lineup of guest conductors. Eminent early music specialist Christophe Rousset leads the first of two programs, featuring a Couperin cantata that he discovered, as well as works by Mouret, Montéclair, and Clérambault.

Rossini’s Ermione. Washington Concert Opera. December 2.

Almost every performance by Washington Concert Opera features an unusual corner of the repertoire, sung by top-notch casts. Artistic director Antony Walker has done it again with his opening concert, a rare chance to hear Rossini’s Ermione, a work withdrawn from the public after a handful of performances but always treasured by the composer. The blockbuster cast features Angela Meade, Lawrence Brownlee, David Portillo, and Ginger Costa-Jackson at Lisner Auditorium.

National Symphony Orchestra led by Gianandrea Noseda, with Fazil Say. January 11-13, 2024.

Among several outstanding programs from the NSO this season will be a visit from Fazil Say. The enigmatic Turkish pianist takes the stage as soloist in two brief but intriguing rarities, Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in E minor. Music director Gianandrea Noseda, who is celebrating his 60th birthday all season long, rounds out an evening of surprises with Stravinsky’s Concerto in D and Haydn’s Symphony No. 95.

Lucas Debargue performs in the Candlelight Concert Society series January 28.

Lucas Debargue. Candlelight Concert Society. January 28.

One of the standouts at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition was Lucas Debargue. The French pianist finished with a fourth prize, in an event perversely known for not always crowning the most gifted musician, but was recognized with a special award by the Moscow Music Critics Association. For his first local appearance since 2016, presented by Candlelight Concert Society, Debargue plays music of Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, and Medtner.

Thalea String Quartet. Chiarina Chamber Players. April 14.

For fans of more recent music, Chiarina Chamber Players will join with the Thalea String Quartet to present a wide-ranging program focused on American music on their series at St. Mark’s, Capitol Hill. Classics of the 20th-century repertoire like Terry Riley’s Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector and George Crumb’s Vox Balaenae are matched with more recent pieces by Whitney George, Mason Bates, and Jeffrey Mumford, as well as more conventional works by Haydn and Piazzolla for good measure.

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Barns at Wolf Trap. April 19.

Violinist Bella Hristova leads an all-strings program of unusual chamber music for one of the CMS programs brought to the Barns at Wolf Trap by artistic advisor Wu Han. With various combinations of violinist Chad Hoopes, violists Timothy Ridout and Matthew Lipman, and cellist Sihao He, the concert includes string trios by Beethoven and Françaix, moves to Frank Bridge’s Lament for Two Violas, and culminates with all five musicians in Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 2.

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra led by Simon Rattle. Washington Performing Arts, Kennedy Center. April 30.

This year’s most exciting visiting ensemble is the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, presented by Washington Performing Arts for the first time since 2016. Mariss Jansons was at the podium last time around, and this tour offers the first chance to hear this esteemed orchestra under his successor, Simon Rattle, who takes over as music director this season. The program combines two monuments, Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (“Pastoral”) and orchestral excerpts from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, with Zemlinsky’s Symphonische Gesänge starring baritone Lester Lynch as soloist.

Erin Morley performs a recital for Vocal Arts DC May 13.

Erin Morley and Gerald Martin Moore. Vocal Arts DC. May 13.

Erin Morley was an ear-tickling season highlight in her last local appearance, with Washington Concert Opera last year. Listeners will get the coloratura soprano all to themselves when she makes her Vocal Arts DC recital debut at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Pianist Gerald Martin Moore will accompany her in selections by Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Rimsky- Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Berg, Zemlinsky, Milhaud, and others.

Leave a Comment


 Subscribe via RSS