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To Do: November 2–November 16, 2016

Twenty-five things to see, hear, watch, and read.

1. Listen to Common’s Black America Again
Uplifting words in troubled times. 
The Chicago rapper Common’s new album is, by design, an hour-long therapy session aimed at working through the struggle to survive in America, but what makes it a crucial Election Week listen is its mission to create peace amid the strife. Guest singers include Stevie Wonder and Marsha Ambrosius. —Craig Jenkins
ARTium/Def Jam Recordings, November 4.

2. Hear the Berlin Philharmonic
Simon Rattle’s farewell tour.
With the end of his Carnegie Hall residency and his role at the Berlin Philharmonic both in sight, Simon Rattle leads the great orchestra in a two-night stand that begins with Pierre Boulez’s Éclat and works its way back to Brahms’s Symphony No. 2. —Justin Davidson
Carnegie Hall, November 9 and 10.

3. See Seu Jorge:  The Life Aquatic — A Tribute to David Bowie
Maybe Bill Murray will make a cameo? 
Yes, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou got watery reviews, but Seu Jorge’s samba treatment of David Bowie’s songbook was a universal hit. Here, the Brazilian guitarist revisits his songs from the soundtrack in a tribute to the Star Man, performing alongside screens showing stills from the ’04 Wes Anderson joint.
The Town Hall, November 11 and 12.

4. See The Handmaiden
Twists abound. 
Korean director Park Chan-wook has turned Sarah Waters’s cheerfully perverse novel Fingersmith into his most fabulously entertaining work. The first part is poky, but by the time you get to the third, there are narrative land mines bursting all over. Superb! —David Edelstein
In theaters now.

5. See Douglas Melini: You Have to Peer Into the Sky to See the Stars
Tightly structured wonder. 
Not to jinx it, but this gallery can almost do no wrong of late. On the same day that the spectacular Aneta Grzeszykowska show of sexual-smart photographs closed, Douglas Melini unveiled his crazy geometric paintings that never let up. One cutout shape has another beneath it, all sandwiched into shaped frames that set the eye ablaze. —Jerry Saltz
11R, 195 Chrystie Street, through December 4.

6. See Chita: Nowadays
Everywhere joy. 
She’s been a Broadway triple threat since Guys and Dolls in 1953, and a star since West Side Story in 1957, but never in all those years has Chita Rivera headlined Carnegie Hall. At 83, she’s finally there, in a one-night concert featuring lots of men — Alan Cumming, the Gay Men’s Chorus — and a 15-piece band. —Jesse Green
Carnegie Hall, November 7.

7. Watch Rikers
Life on the inside. 
Bill Moyers and his team of filmmakers from the criminal-justice arena interviewed dozens of former inmates at New York’s most notorious jail for this sobering documentary. Tough documentary reporting with intellectual heft.
WNET/Thirteen, November 15 at 10 p.m.

8. See Beach House
Dreamy cloudlike synths. 
With their pair of albums last year, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally graduated to the stadium level without losing the mellow intensity that launched a thousand imitators. Visit their website ( for the unconventional “setlist creator,” encouraging fans to pick favorites.
Kings Theatre, November 3.

9. Watch The Crown
The Royals are at it again.
The writer behind The Queen and Frost/Nixon takes another dive into British history with this retelling of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who assumed the throne in 1952 at age 25. It’s a gold mine of material for heavy-hitting character actors, and John Lithgow (jut-jawed as Winston Churchill) and Victoria Hamilton (as the Queen Mother) do not disappoint. —Matt Zoller Seitz
Netflix, November 4.

10. & 11. See Tschabalala Self: Gut Feelings and Louis Fratino: With Everyone
A force for good painting. 
This gallery is on a real roll. After its glowing show of young visionary illuminator Hiba Schahbaz, now come two unknowns with big gulps of talent. Tschabalala Self gives us a Chris Ofili–inflected Garden of Sexy Id in sewn and collaged paintings, while the even younger Louis Fratino brings us succulent, highly structured men-on-men squeezed spaces. —J.S.
Thierry Goldberg Gallery, 103 Norfolk Street, through November 13.

Theater Music
12. See Broadway’s One-Hit Wonders
I’ll never fall in love again. 
Why didn’t Burt Bacharach return with a new Broadway show after the sensation of Promises, Promises? Why didn’t the songwriters of Man of La Mancha, who did return, ever strike gold again? The Broadway Close Up series continues its season with an annotated concert about the great one-megahit wonders, featuring selections from the shows above plus Grease, Hair, The Music Man, and more. —J.G.
Merkin Concert Hall, November 14 and 15.

13. Watch Demagogues
Election Week fodder. 
This series features 14 films about political windbags, blowhards, rabble-rousers, and even outright fascists. Many are meant to be funny, although Duck Soup, Dr. Strangelove, and The Manchurian Candidate cut a little close to the bone these days. —D.E.
Film Forum, November 4 to 10.

14. See Tegan and Sara
Winning combinations.
Beloved identical-twin indie-pop giants Tegan and Sara perform in support of their latest album, Love You to Death. The surprise gift is opener Torres, whose melancholy poetics and cyborg guitar playing blend John Donne and St. Vincent.
Theater at Madison Square Garden, November 4.

15. Read A Gambler’s Anatomy
Surrealist paranoia returns.
Jonathan Lethem’s woolly but worthy new novel follows a possibly clairvoyant gambler who hocks his future and his (tumor-stricken) face to a wealthy friend in order to save his life. An affectionate skewering of Berkeley, that land of faded liberal dreams and smug libertarian gentrifiers. —Boris Kachka
Doubleday, October 18.

16. See Jeremy Denk: Medieval to Modern
A musical panorama.
Jeremy Denk whips from one end of Western music history to the other in a single piano recital. Starting with the 14th-century Guillaume de Machaut and winding up, 24 short pieces later, with John Adams, he follows musical threads and digressions, pulled by his own constantly chugging train of thought.        —J.D.
Alice Tully Hall, November 16.

17. Watch Soundbreaking: Stories From the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music
How the beats got made. 
This series goes behind the scenes in recording studios throughout the past half-century, showing how revolutions in recording technology allowed the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and others to advance their art. Watch for interviews with Paul McCartney, Debbie Harry, Annie Lennox, and more. —M.Z.S.
PBS, November 14.

18. See Miles for Mary
Overhead-projector nostalgia trip.
Downtown-theater stalwarts the Mad Ones explore the VHS age in this new play about a group of late-1980s high-school teachers planning a telethon. The meticulous ensemble acting is anchored by director Lila Neugebauer.
Bushwick Starr, 207 Starr Street, through November 12.

Theater Music
19. See Rodgers, Rodgers & Guettel
The king and they.
Mary Rodgers (1931–2014) championed the acclaimed work of both her father, Richard Rodgers (1902–1979), and her son Adam Guettel (born 1964), while also accumulating a fascinating if less-known catalogue of her own. The New York Festival of Song honors all three in a concert of classics, obscurities, and new work. —J.G.
Merkin Concert Hall, November 1 and 3 at 8 p.m.

20. Read The Boat Rocker
Blast from the past.
Feng Danlin’s wife abandoned him just as they emigrated from China. Years later, still licking his wounds, he’s a New York journalist assigned to unravel the messy motivations of a best-selling novel written by … his ex-wife. He charges her with being a shill for the government, is derided for sour grapes by the powers that be, and then discovers that those powers may well be conspiring against him. Arguably Ha Jin’s most political — and funny — novel yet. —B.K.
Pantheon, October 25.

21. See The Philadelphia Orchestra
Richly brocaded ballet score.
With Yannick Nézet-Séguin easing into his future role as music director of the Metropolitan Opera (a position he doesn’t fully assume until 2020!), nervous operagoers will be paying closer attention to the visits he makes with his other orchestra. This time he brings Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. —J.D.
Carnegie Hall, November 15.

22. See Finding Babel
Documenting atrocity.
Director David Novack follows writer Isaac Babel’s grandson on a trip to the settings of his first great collection, Red Cavalry, which recounts Babel’s travels with Cossacks in their war against the Poles. In the story excerpts, Liev Schreiber’s voice is smoother than I’d have liked, but nothing can smooth out Babel’s prose. —D.E.
In theaters now.

23. See Frankie Cosmos
Songs for quiet moments.
Greta Kline, the 22-year-old songwriter behind Frankie Cosmos, writes two-minute exercises of existential dread in the guise of simple, sweet guitar pop. She performs in support of her sophomore record, Next Thing.
Webster Hall, November 13.

24. Hear Susanna Phillips and Eric Owens
Double feature.
The seismic-voiced basso and the silken soprano, both deeply musical and emotionally open, take a break from rehearsing Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin at the Metropolitan Opera for a duo recital of Schubert songs. —J.D.
Zankel Hall, November 6.

25. Listen to Pavo Pavo
Rivers of reverb. 
The geeky Brooklyn psych-pop outfit has teased with shows and singles, and now it’s finally released a debut album, Young Narrator in the Breakers. Expect sublime, synthy slow-burners echoing a bittersweet autumn from years past.
Bella Union, November 11.