Critic’s Choice for the 2017-18 season

August 21, 2017 at 3:29 pm

By Aaron Keebaugh

Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday anniversary will be celebrated with several performances of his music by Boston organizations in the 2017-18 season.

Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday anniversary will be celebrated with several performances of his music by Boston organizations in the 2017-18 season.

The 2017-2018 season will bring new and familiar faces to Boston in performances of new and familiar works. But central to the season’s offerings will be the birthday centennial of Leonard Bernstein, a composer with deep roots in the city. The Boston Symphony Orchestra will perform two of the composer’s symphonies, and the Boston Lyric Opera will stage one of his little-heard operas.

But there’s much more. Superstar pianists Daniil Trifonov and Maurizio Pollini will appear in recital, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic will return to Boston with a program of modern music. Each will be part of the Celebrity Series.

Here is a list of some of the performances you do not want to miss.

Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust. Charles Dutoit and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. October 26-28 at Symphony Hall.

Concert opera has long been a specialty of beloved BSO guest conductor Charles Dutoit. In what promises to be the highlight of the orchestra’s fall concerts, the conductor leads the BSO and starry cast of soloists in Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust. Susan Graham returns to Symphony Hall in the role of Marguerite, Paul Groves will perform the role of Faust, and John Relyea is Mephistopheles.

Norman Dello Joio’s The Trial at Rouen in a performance by Odyssey Opera and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. December 1 at Jordan Hall.

This season, Gil Rose and Odyssey Opera will explore works inspired by the life and times of Joan of Arc through performances of little-known operas by Verdi, Honegger, Tchaikovsky, and Donizetti.

One work by an American composer, Norman Dello Joio’s The Trial at Rouen, stands out from this intriguing season theme. An opera written for television, The Trial at Rouen premiered in 1956 but has since fallen into neglect. In a single performance this December, Odyssey Opera and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project will offer the belated stage premiere of Dello Joio’s work. Heather Buck will perform the role of Joan and Gil Rose will conduct.

Jeremy Denk and Stefan Jackiw presented by the Celebrity Series. January 26, 2018 at Jordan Hall.

Charles Ives’ Violin Sonatas brim with nostalgia for the American life of the composer’s childhood. But there’s nothing stuffy about pianist Jeremy Denk’s recordings of these and other Ives’ works, which ring with an interpretive freshness. In his return to the Celebrity Series, Denk will team up with violinist Stefan Jackiw to offer Ives’ complete Violin Sonatas.

Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan will perform a duo-piano concert March xx for the Celebrity Series.

Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan will perform a duo-piano concert March 3 for the Celebrity Series.

Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan in Celebrity Series recital. March 3 at Jordan Hall.

Pianist Daniil Trifonov is a force unto himself. Since winning both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions in 2011, the young musician has launched an international career, and in only six years has risen to the front ranks of today’s piano virtuosi. Trifonov, known for his probing interpretations of a wide rang of repertoire, learned from the best, and in a Celebrity Series recital he will make a rare appearance with his teacher, Sergei Babayan.

Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, Age of Anxiety, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4 given by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. March 22-24, 27 at Symphony Hall.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra will celebrate Bernstein’s centennial in several programs this season. One of those events will take place this spring when Andris Nelsons leads the orchestra in the composer’s Age of Anxiety, a jazzy work that blends symphony and concerto genres. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, in his new role as artist-in-residence with the BSO, will perform as soloist.

The same program will also spotlight Shostakovich’s dark and Mahlerian Fourth Symphony as part of the multi-season exploration of the composer’s symphonic works by Nelsons and the BSO.

Purcell’s The Fairy Queen given by the Handel and Haydn Society. April 6 and 8 at Jordan Hall.

If you missed H&H’s performance of Purcell’s riff on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Tanglewood this past summer, you can catch it this coming spring in a semi-staged production. The performance will feature some of Boston’s best singers, including Margot Rood, Sonja DuToit Tengblad, Jonas Budris, Stefan Reed, and Woodrow Bynum, just to name a few. Harry Christophers will conduct.

Maurizio Pollini in Celebrity Series recital. April 8 at Symphony Hall.

Boston audiences will be treated to musical royalty once again this season as pianist Maurizio Pollini returns for a Celebrity Series recital. The program will be announced at a later date.

Beethoven’s Fidelio performed by Boston Baroque. April 13-15 at Jordan Hall.

Performances of Beethoven’s only opera are not rare occasions. But Boston audiences will have the chance to hear this tale of love and rescue on period instruments for the first time in the city. The cast features a stellar lineup, including Wendy Bryn Harmer as Leonore and William Burden as Florestan. Martin Pearlman will conduct.

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a Celebrity Series performance. April 25 at Symphony Hall.

This energetic conductor and orchestra will mark their return to the Celebrity Series with Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, Varèse’s Ameriques, and the Boston premiere of a new work by former LA Phil music director Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. Boston Lyric Opera. May 11-20. Venue TBA.

The season-long celebration of Leonard Bernstein will include a rare performance of the composer’s opera Trouble in Tahiti, an ironic love story set to a jazzy score. In addition to the opera, the company will offer Bernstein’s Arias & Barcarolles, a piece dealing with the nature of love and marriage. The cast for Tahiti will include Heather Johnson as Dinah and Marcus DeLoach as Sam. David Angus will conduct.

Pianist Maurizio Pollini performs April xx for the Celebrity Series.

Pianist Maurizio Pollini performs a recital April 8 at Symphony Hall for the Celebrity Series.

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