September Classical Music Preview

See Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena,” Gil Shaham playing Samuel Barber, and Anne-Sophie Mutter this month.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

The fall season gets underway with two great operas, some vocal stars in concert,
and a lot—quite a lot—of American music.

Stephanie Blythe, who has made a name for herself at such venues as the Met and the Lyric Opera of
Chicago, appears at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on September 14 in a recital
sponsored by Vocal Arts DC. Accompanied by pianist
Warren Jones, Blythe sings the late James Legg’s settings of poems by Emily Dickinson, as well
as works by Samuel Barber, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and other American composers.

Anna Bolena, one of Gaetano Donizetti’s Tudor operas and a classic of the bel canto repertoire,
opens the season at the Washington National Opera on
September 15, continuing through October 6.
Antonello Allemandi conducts, and
Stephen Lawless directs this Dallas Opera production. Soprano
Sondra Radvanovsky stars as Anna Bolena, condemned to die by her husband, Enrico (Henry) VIII, sung
by bass
Oren Gradus.

Is there a more enduring work in the world of opera—one that blends comedy and tragedy
so effortlessly—than Mozart’s
Don Giovanni? This Washington National Opera revival, opening September
20 and running through October 9, features bass
Ildar Abdrazakov as the salacious rake, as well as soprano
Meagan Miller, soprano
Barbara Frittoli, tenor
Juan Francisco Gatell, bass-baritone
Andrew Foster-Williams, and soprano
Veronica Cangemi.
Phillippe Auguin conducts, and
John Pascoe directs.

Nearly 20 years ago, I saw Gil Shaham perform Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, and
aside from the maturity of the playing, I cannot forget the sweet, radiant tone he
produced in the work’s first two movements and the fiery and frenetic virtuosity he
displayed in the finale. Shaham plays the Barber on September 22 at the Baltimore
Symphony Orchestra
’s season-opening performance at the Music Center
at Strathmore. Marin Alsop conducts two other American works: Leonard Bernstein’s
suite from
On the Waterfront and the Symphony No. 3 by Aaron Copland.

Another all-American program can be heard on September 22 at George Mason’s Center
for the Arts, where
Christopher Zimmerman leads the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra in music by John Adams
Chairman Dances), Ellen Zwilich (the
Shadows for piano and orchestra, featuring soloist
Jeffrey Biegel), Bernstein (three dance episodes from
On the Town), and George Gershwin (the Piano Concerto in F, also starring Biegel).

On September 23, baritone
Nathan Gunn appears, along with tenor
William Burden and soprano
Emily Albrink, in a Washington National Opera Celebrity Concert. The
program will include music by Mozart, Gioacchino Rossini, Stephen Sondheim, and others.

Bernstein’s Third Symphony, titled
Kaddish—named for the Jewish prayer for the dead but ostensibly a prayer for peace—is the
main draw of the Baltimore Symphony’s September 29 performance
at the Music Center at Strathmore. Guest soloists include narrator
Claire Bloom, soprano
Kelley Nassief, and the Washington Chorus.
Marin Alsop also conducts John Adams’s
Short Ride in a Fast Machine and
Ansel Adams: America by Dave and Chris Brubeck.

The National Symphony Orchestra performs its Season Opening
Ball Concert on September 30 with
Christoph Eschenbach conducting several crowd pleasers suitable for the occasion. On the program: Beethoven’s
Overture to
Creatures of Prometheus and Richard Strauss’s Suite from
Der Rosenkavalier. Superstar
Anne-Sophie Mutter appears in two iconic works: Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Pablo de Sarasate’s
Carmen Fantasy.


More from Things to Do