Singers’ delight

Spring Arts Preview: Opera and vocal works lead the season
By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  March 10, 2008
LOVE AND HONOR: Barbara Quintiliani sings Verdi’s Ernani with Opera Boston.

The season may be starting to wind down, but there remain some events music lovers have been waiting for all year. The BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA closes with its most ambitious undertaking: James Levine conducting Berlioz’s grand and gorgeous epic, LES TROYENS, a two-part history of the Trojan War centering on two doomed heroines, Cassandra and Dido (Part I: April 22, 24, 26; Part II: April 30 + May 2; both parts: May 4; 617.266.1200). Dido reappears when the CELEBRITY SERIES OF BOSTON brings back Purcell’s DIDO AND AENEAS, the first great opera in English, with Mark Morris’s profound choreography (the same dancer playing both the Queen of Carthage and her ruthless nemesis) and Morris himself conducting the Emmanuel Music orchestra and off-stage voices (Cutler Majestic Theatre: May 28–June 1; 617.482.6661).

OPERA BOSTON offers a rare production of Verdi’s early and richly melodic Ernani (based on a Victor Hugo novel of love and honor), with Gil Rose conducting marvelous Verdi soprano Barbara Quintiliani, tenor Eduardo Villa, and baritone Jason Stearns in his first Boston gig since Chorus pro Musica’s Pagliacci last June (Cutler Majestic Theatre: May 2, 4, 6; 617.451.3388). BOSTON LYRIC OPERA gives us six chances to board the Orient Express in its fine English version of Mozart’s tuneful harem comedy The Abduction from the Seraglio (Shubert Theatre: April 25–May 6; 617.542.4912). The Boston Conservatory’s GUERILLA OPERA presents the world premiere of Andy Vores’s No Exit, this brilliant composer’s version of Sartre’s famous one-act play (Zack Box: April 24-27; 617.912.9240).

EMMANUEL MUSIC has John Harbison conducting Bach’s B-minor Mass (Emmanuel Church: April 12) and a Schumann chamber concert (April 6; 617.536.3356). David Hoose and the CANTATA SINGERS wrap up their exploration of Kurt Weill with a “Weill Cabaret” (Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center: April 6) and his rarely performed Symphony No. 2, on a bill with Charles Fussell’s new High Bridge, which is based on Hart Crane (Jordan Hall: May 9; 617.868.5885). Martin Pearlman’s BOSTON BAROQUE brings us Haydn’s The Creation, with soprano Heidi Stober, tenor Brian Stucki, and bass-baritone Kevin Deas (Jordan Hall: May 2-3; 617.484.9200). And Sir Roger Norrington is scheduled to lead Haydn’s Tragic Symphony and Harmoniemesse with the HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY (Symphony Hall: April 4 + 6; 617.262.1815).

Can’t wait for the BSO’s premiere of JOHN HARBISON’S SYMPHONY NO. 5, with mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and baritone Nathan Gunn singing poems about Orpheus by Rilke, Czeslaw Milosz, and Louise Glück. Or for James Levine leading mezzo Anne Sofie von Ottter and tenor Johan Botha in Mahler’s great song symphony, DAS LIED VON DER ERDE (April 17-18). Levine will also conduct a Brahms program, with Evgeny Kissin (Symphony No. 3 with Piano Concerto No. 2, April 8-9, and with Piano Concerto No. 1, April 11-12; 617.266.1200). Benjamin Zander leads the BOSTON PHILHARMONIC in Brahms’s noble Symphony No. 1 and Bartók’s Violin Concerto No 2, with Kyoto Takezawa (Sanders Theatre: April 24 + 27; Jordan Hall: April 26; 617.236.0999).

Sublime pianist DUBRAVKA TOMSIC returns in a Celebrity Series recital (Symphony Hall: April 18). Pianist MURRAY PERAHIA conducts and plays Bach, Mozart, and Haydn with the ACADEMY OF ST. MARTIN IN THE FIELDS (Symphony Hall: April 2). Also in the Celebrity Series: the BEAUX ARTS TRIO (Jordan Hall: April 4), KURT MASUR leading the ORCHESTRE NATIONAL DE FRANCE with pianist David Fray (Symphony Hall: April 27), and the gifted young cellist ALISA WALLERSTEIN in a Boston Marquee concert (Jordan Hall: May 4; 617.482.6661).

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