"Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibemus Quarry"… (Courtesy of the BMA )
With temperatures stuck in an annoying, chilling rut as the new year begins, the array of hot cultural activity ahead looks all the more attractive. Something warm and interesting awaits inside museums, theaters and concert halls during the bleak, wintry weeks all across the Baltimore area.
Since everybody likes Top 10 lists, here's one outlining highlights (in chronological order), but this only scrapes the surface. Plenty of other comforting jolts from the arts can easily be found.
Center Stage The tale of the world's most pronounced schnoz, which is connected to a deeply sensitive soul, gets a fresh "adaptation for three actors" by Jo Roets. "Cyrano," directed by David Schweizer, stars Manu Narayan in the title role, with Sarah Grace Wilson and Luke Robertson. Jan. 13 to Feb. 7. 410-332-0033, centerstage.org.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Ever-stylish pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays Beethoven's Concerto No. 3 with the BSO, led by eminent Czech conductor Jiri Belohlavek. The program offers two vivid Czech works: Dvorak's "Othello" Overture and Janacek's "Taras Bulba." Jan. 22 and 24 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Jan. 23 at Strathmore). 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org.
Pro Musica Rara Baltimore's hearty early-music ensemble teams up with the fine Philadelphia-based group Tempesta di Mare for Pro Musica's annual "SuperBach Sunday" program, this one featuring a couple of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and music of Vivaldi. Jan. 24 at Towson University Center for the Arts. 410-704-2787, towson.edu/artscalendar.
Shriver Hall Concert Series This is a tie, since two of today's most rewarding keyboard virtuosos are giving successive recitals on this valuable series. Emanuel Ax plays music of Schumann and Chopin on Jan. 31; Yefim Bronfman tackles works by Beethoven, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev on Feb. 21. 410-516-7164, shriverconcerts.org.
Peabody Institute Venerable pianist Leon Fleisher will be joined by violinist Pamela Frank and several other excellent artists on the Peabody faculty for a chamber music program that includes Brahms' Piano Quintet in F minor. Works by Beethoven and Webern round out the concert. Feb. 2. 410-234-4800, peabody.jhu.edu.
Baltimore Ballet This educational and performance company celebrates its 10th anniversary with a gala concert that features Cem Catbas (Baltimore Ballet's co-founder and artistic director) and dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and more. Feb. 6 at the Lyric Opera House. 410-547-7328, ticketmaster.com.
Baltimore Museum of Art "Cézanne and American Modernism," one of the season's most anticipated exhibits, puts 16 of Paul Cézanne's compelling works in context with more than 80 paintings, watercolors and photographs by several 20th-century artists from this country who were influenced by his work. Feb. 14-May 23. 443-573-1700, artbma.org.
Lyric Opera House The first full-length, fully staged opera production to be presented in this theater since Baltimore Opera Company's tragic swan song in 2008 will be Bizet's "Carmen." The vibrant Denyce Graves stars in this Opera New Jersey production, which also features the reassembled Baltimore Opera Chorus. Feb. 14. 410-547-7328, ticketmaster.com.
Hippodrome Theatre Winner of four Tony Awards in 2008, including Best Musical, "In the Heights" tells a slice-of-life tale from the dynamic, way-uptown Latin-American neighborhood of Manhattan's Washington Heights. The popular, salsa-spiced show, conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, visits Baltimore on its first national tour. Feb. 23-March 7. 410-547-7328, broadwayacrossamerica.com.
Everyman Theatre By the closing weeks of winter, we'll all be ready for a change of scenery. A heartwarming option will be Grover's Corners, the fictional spot immortalized by Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." Everyman teams up with the Baltimore School for the Arts in a new production directed by Donald Hicken. March 17 to April 18. 410-752-2208, everymantheatre.org.
Slatkin returns to D.C.
Leonard Slatkin sounds like his old self over the phone, shortly after arriving in Washington on Monday, speaking as rapidly and enthusiastically as ever about life and music. Two months ago, things were not so chipper for the distinguished American conductor.
On Nov. 1, while guest-conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic in the Netherlands, he had a heart attack.
"I finished the concert," Slatkin, 65, says. "I don't know why. Stubborn, I think. Then I collapsed in the dressing room. Thirty minutes later, there were three stents in me. I was supposed to be on a plane to Germany that night. If I had gone, that would have been the last people saw of me."
Slatkin, the current music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and former music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, will make his first podium appearance anywhere since the health scare this week with the NSO.