Here are some highlights of the upcoming winter and spring in the concert halls of Washington.
Giuliano Carmignola, violinist
American cellist Alan Toda-Ambaras was only 14 years old when he qualified for the Rostropovich Cello Competition. In the final rounds in Paris, he received the Prix du meilleur espoir for best young cellist. He returns to Washington on January 13 to play a recital with violinist Daniel Austrich, at the Mansion at Strathmore. Superstar violinist Joshua Bell will play selections from his CD Voice of the Violin on January 28, with pianist Jeremy Denk, at Strathmore. The house sold out long ago, but WPAS has just started selling special seats on the stage. Act quickly.
Pianists giving solo recitals in the Washington area include Richard Goode (February 11, Strathmore), Jean-Yves Thibaudet (February 17, Kennedy Center),
Jupiter String Quartet
For contemporary music, Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists will play a program of music by Japanese composers at the Library of Congress (January 24). The National Gallery of Art has scheduled three Sundays in its free concert series for its Sixty-second American Music Festival (February 18 and 25, March 4), with performances by Mark Kaplan, Yael Weiss, Alan Feinberg, and the Contemporary Music Forum. Best of all, Pierre-Laurent Aimard will give a concert of contemporary chamber music at La Maison Française (May 8).
Soloists of interest appearing with the National Symphony include Renaud and Gautier Capuçon (February 15 to 17), Leonidas Kavakos playing Sibelius with guest conductor Osmo Vänskä (March 8 to 10), Julia Fischer playing Khachaturian (March 15 to 17), and Christian Tetzlaff with guest conductor Jiří Bĕlohlávek on the Janáček violin concerto The Wandering of a Little Soul (April 19 to 21).
The duel of the Chinese piano virtuosi will take place between appearances with the NSO by Lang Lang premiering a Jennifer Higdon concerto (May 17 to 19) and Yundi Li playing Liszt's first piano concerto (April 5 to 7). Incredibly, Yundi Li will play the same concerto a month prior to that with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, conducted by Riccardo Chailly, at the George Mason University Center for the Arts (March 3). That should make for an interesting comparison.
Deborah Voigt, soprano
She may not be stripping down to a body suit, but the considerably slimmer Deborah Voigt will be singing in a concert performance of Strauss's Salome with the National Symphony (January 18, 20, and 22). Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham will give a recital of French songs at the Kennedy Center (January 26). A month later, it will be another great mezzo, Joyce DiDonato, with Julius Drake (February 27), presented by Vocal Arts Society at the Terrace Theater. At the Austrian Embassy, a recital of songs from Hugo Wolf's Spanische Liederbuch, with Wolfgang Holzmair, Hermine Haselböck, Susanna Phillips, and Russell Ryan (April 11). More Lieder, this time by Schubert, when Matthias Goerne sings with the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Christoph Eschenbach, at the Kennedy Center (June 3).
Excellent choral events include the Hilliard Ensemble in a free concert at the Freer Gallery of Art (January 24) and the Tallis Scholars at Shriver Hall (April 1).
Patricia Racette, soprano
We look forward to Washington National Opera's continuing Ring cycle, with Die Walküre (March 24 to April 17). Even more exciting than this, however, is the production of Leoš Janáček's Jenůfa, with Patricia Racette and Catherine Malfitano, and Jiří Bĕlohlávek at the podium (May 5 to 24). Around the same time, Baltimore Opera will be mounting a welcome production of Bedřich Smetana's Prodaná nevěsta, or The Bartered Bride (March 24 to April 1).
The Kirov Opera comes back to the Kennedy Center Opera House with Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims (January 27 and 28) and Verdi's Falstaff (January 31, February 2 and 3). Finally, and most anticipated, they will give a concert performance of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (February 4).
You can see what two composers did with the same libretto, with Opera Lafayette's concert performance of Lully's Armide (February 3) and Gluck's Armide from University of Maryland Opera Studio (April 19 to 22). Both will occur at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Finally, Baroque opera is making the leap to non-specialist companies in the area: Virginia Opera will bring its production of Handel's Agrippina to the George Mason University Center for the Arts (February 9 and 11).
University opera companies should all be doing what University of Maryland Opera Studio is doing, performing less familiar works because they can. Do not miss the chance to see the group's production of Conrad Susa's opera Transformations at Clarice Smith (April 12 to 15). Grimm fairy tales, through the lens of Anne Sexton's poems, set as a two-act chamber opera. By comparison, the nth and n+1th production of Tosca -- Bulgarian State Opera (January 26, George Mason) and Baltimore Opera (May 5 to 13) -- seem like a waste. Rossini's Otello from Washington Concert Opera at Lisner is of greater interest, especially with Elizabeth Futral as Desdemona (April 29). That woman is tireless when it comes to learning new roles.