Best of the Rest: Classical & Dance

“Margaret Garner”
Toni Morrison ventures into the world of opera with this new interpretation of the story of a slave woman who tries to kill her children, the true tale that inspired her novel Beloved. It’s already got the Peter Gelb seal of approval: Morrison says the Met director told her, “Your lyrics are wonderful.” New York City Opera; premieres September 11.

“The BQE”
Sufjan Stevens’s intricate, epic story-songs have always been orchestral in feel; now he’s bringing them to an actual orchestra. In perhaps the first large-scale tribute to Robert Moses’s hulking urban viaduct, Stevens melds a “virtual road trip” on film with a live orchestral ensemble performing old and new material. BAM; November 1 through 3.

Photo: Arne Hyckenberg/courtesy of Van Walsum Management

“Composer Portraits: Esa-Pekka Salonen”
Finnish composer-conductor Salonen made headlines recently when he relinquished his directorship of the L.A. Philharmonic, but he’s been shaking things up for a while with his own avant-garde compositions and his dedication to giving modern composers a wider stage. This deserved tribute spans three decades of his career, ranging from a late-seventies work he did when very young to the New York City premiere of his 2003 Memoria. Miller Theatre; October 5.

“New Ballet”
The ever-inventive George Steel marks his tenth season programming the Miller with a new take on the theater’s historic devotion to dance: Excellent up-and-coming choreographers Amanda Miller, Luca Veggetti, and Alison Chase get their works performed by stars from New York City Ballet. Miller Theatre; September 27 through 30.

“Einstein in Concert”
It’s Philip Glass’s 70th birthday year, which means Glass-mania will soon draw to a close. Before it’s over, catch this Minimalist masterwork, Glass’s seminal first opera, created with fellow downtown visionary Robert Wilson. Never mind that it’s plotless, and five hours long. Carnegie Hall; December 6.

American Ballet Theatre
Can’t stand the thought of sitting through Giselle one more time? The ultimate ballet company’s supremely talented dancers get a chance to stretch here on a variety of more-contemporary works. Besides Benjamin Millepied’s new work (see page 136), Jorma Elo’s balletic setting of Philip Glass’s A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close will be a major draw, City Center; October 27 through November 4.

“Perspectives: Valery Gergiev”
New York loves the Kirov Opera’s music director right now: He braved an epic run of the Ring cycle at the Met this summer, and now curates a series of spectacularly Russian concerts. Close your eyes, take in the Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, and Borodin, and it’ll feel like the Mariinsky Theatre on 57th Street. Carnegie Hall; December 1, 2, and 4.

Photo: Mark Von Holden/Wireimage

Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Takács Quartet
The innovative string quartet’s first violinist conceived this odd, intriguing program; Hoffman reads scenes from Philip Roth’s pensive novella Everyman, interspersed with performances of works from Roth’s “composer contemporaries” (Arvo Pärt, for one). Will it work, and, perhaps more important, will Hoffman comb his hair for Carnegie Hall? Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall; October 23.

“María de Buenos Aires”
Tango king Astor Piazzolla called this his “tango operita,” a sensual mix of dance, music, and spoken word portraying the life of the titular María, who for the composer embodies the spirit of tango. Gotham Chamber Opera interprets it with a genuinely special touch: choreography from David Parsons, one of modern dance’s great living dance-makers. Skirball Center; September 26, 28, and 29.

Photo: Gadi Dagon; courtesy of BAM

Batsheva Dance Company
Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s dancers are rightly the pride of their country, the best example of a company intimately in tune with its physical assets and capabilities. They return to the Next Wave Festival with Three, an engrossing piece set to Glenn Gould’s recordings of the Goldberg Variations, Brian Eno, and the Beach Boys. BAM; November 13, 15, 16, and 17.

“The Tchaikovsky Experience”
The New York Philharmonic follows up its all-encompassing celebration last season of Brahms’s sublimely romantic orchestral works with a tribute to a composer with similarly lush tendencies. Swan Lake? The epic fifth and sixth symphonies? They’re all there. Say what you will about the safe choices of the Philharmonic—a grand symphony they can play. Avery Fisher Hall, September 26 through October 13.

Best of the Rest: Classical & Dance