Spring Arts Guide 2012

Spring Arts Guide: Must-See Classical and Opera 

Feb. 25–March 15
Washington National Opera performs Cosi Fan Tutte
Mozart is a good gateway for people who don’t normally love opera. Unlike the doom and gloom of the late romantics, a Mozart opera is pleasantly light, like a puff pastry rather than a Wagnerian four-course, stuffed-schnitzel meal. For WNO’s production of Cosi Fan Tutte, British director Jonathan Miller sets the romantic comedy in present-day D.C. and fills it with scheming yuppies and sight gags involving laptops and cell phones. Kennedy Center, $25–$300.

Feb. 29
The Vienna Philharmonic
The Vienna Philharmonic’s reputation has preceded them for more than 150 years, back when the orchestra’s hometown really was the musical capital of the world. Normally, the closest you could hope to hear them is a livestream of their famous New Year’s concert. They charge a pretty penny the few times they make it stateside, and this time is no exception. But if money is no object, it’s a chance to see one of the hands-down best orchestras in the world. Kennedy Center, $65–$250.

March 15–17
National Symphony Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Fidelio
Yes, Beethoven wrote an opera—just one, and it doesn’t get performed a lot. But NSO director Christoph Eschenbach is bringing it back as part of his “Music of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna” series. It’s sandwiched between two other noteworthy concerts in the series, Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle (March 8–10) and Dvorák’s Stabat Mater (March 22–24). See Fidelio in conjunction with WNO’s Cosi Fan Tutte, though, to get a sense of how Beethoven learned to use sonata form to heighten melodrama back while he was still riding Mozart’s jock. Kennedy Center, $20–$85.

April 7
Video Games Live
National Philharmonic does music from World of Warcraft, Splinter Cell, and Assassin’s Creed. Don’t front like you’re too mature for this. Come early for the Guitar Hero competition. Strathmore, $25–$76.

April 10
The Arditti String Quartet and Stephen Drury perform John Cage’s Two4
Give it up to the Library of Congress for its mandate in both commissioning new music and presenting it for free to the public. The current season has a couple premieres of contemporary pieces, including an intriguing new musical inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Ohio Impromptu (March 7). Most exciting, though, is a never-before-performed work for strings and piano by the late zen weirdo John Cage. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Coolidge Auditorium, free with reserved ticket.

April 14–15
Opera Lafayette performs Il Barbiere di Siviglia
That’s Barber of Seville to us. But it’s not the Rossini opera or the Bugs Bunny cartoon; rather, it’s an earlier Italian opera by Giovanni Paisiello based on an even older French play. Opera Lafayette does this kind of stuff: resurrect mostly-forgotten fare and spruce it up with high quality instrumentation and a fastidious adherence to history. They’re back from France following a successful run with an opera that was once a star vehicle for Marie Antoinette. Now catch their season closer before they skip town again. Kennedy Center, $65.

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