Art and Performance

The Best Classical Music and Opera in Seattle This Winter

Picks from Seattle Art and Performance
December 9, 2015
Find all listings for classical music and opera in Seattle on our Things To Do calendar.

Through Dec 21

recommended Home for the Holidays
Directing the Seattle Men's Chorus for the last time, Dennis Coleman will pull out all the "beloved carols, soaring holiday classics, and charming, cheeky antics" audiences have loved over the years.
Benaroya Hall

Dec 12–13

recommended UW Music and Pacific MusicWorks: Handel & Messiah
Handel's Messiah has become a Christmas classic regardless of the fact that it was first written for Easter. But I digress. The piece is, obviously, tremendous. If you've never seen it live, you're doing your ears wrong. If you want the conventional, solid route, go to Seattle Symphony's performances. But this performance promises to be excellent in its own way, guided by the noted early music conductor Stephen Stubbs. He'll "take a revolutionary approach to Handel's Messiah, returning to the composer's own practice of "embedding soloists in the choir." Team Stubbs! JG
UW Meany Theatre

Jan 16–30

recommended The Marriage of Figaro
Seattle Opera had the same general director—Speight Jenkins, who introduced the company's famed Ring cycle and generally brought the opera into the modern age—for more than 30 years. Then, in 2014, he retired, and Aidan Lang took his place. General directors don't usually act as creative artists, and Lang "doesn't intend to repeat this feat," but this presentation of Figaro, Mozart's best-loved and most commonly produced opera, is Lang's own production. He created it in 2010 in New Zealand, partly at the same place—Weta Workshop—where Peter Jackson made his Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it sailed across the seas to get here. Says Jonathan Dean, Seattle Opera dramaturg, "Like Speight, Aidan is obviously a very intelligent man; but it's his common sense that has impressed me so much. His goal with this Figaro was simply to tell the opera world's most complicated story clearly, so that everyone can follow (and enjoy) every twist and turn of the crazy plot. [H]e has stripped away both the typical excessively ornate Rococo fussiness that you often see, in terms of sets and costumes, and loads of traditional gags and shtick that have accumulated over the centuries." The goal? "Logic," Dean says, and "realness." JG
McCaw Hall

Feb 5

recommended Chansons D'Amour
Soprano Clara Rottsolk and pianist Byron Schenkman will perform songs by Gabriel Fauré, Mozart, and Poulenc.
Resonance at SOMA Towers

recommended [UNTITLED] 2
Seattle Symphony's late-night concerts in the lobby of Benaroya Hall are wrapped in windows, so the sparkling night city is their backdrop. This time, the music relates to the urban avant-garde of New York in the middle of the 20th century, when Christian Wolff, the composer, was hanging out with Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and the artist Robert Rauschenberg. For Bob is Wolff's musical tribute to Rauschenberg, to be joined by modernist Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel, a composition for the color-field painter Mark Rothko. Cage himself is on the program, as well as Earle Brown, another compatriot. Modernism all night in the city. JG
Benaroya Hall

Feb 18

recommended Mozart & Fauré
It's terrific when celebrity musicians or rising solo stars drop into town to perform with Seattle Symphony. But if you want to see and hear the principal musicians who live among you year-round, this is your chance. Meet Meeka Quan DiLorenzo, Emma McGrath, Seth Krimsky, Jeffrey Fair, and Eric Han in works by Haydn, Strauss, and Fauré. And the night concludes with Mozart's Symphony no. 40 in G Minor, which begins with a movement that, if you only know one piece of classical music, is the one that's playing in your head right now. (Oh, go YouTube it.) JG
Benaroya Hall

Feb 25

recommended we do it to one another
Tracy K. Smith is the knockout poet who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry Life on Mars in 2011. Life on Mars is apocalyptic and erudite, a body of poetry wearing a nonfiction jacket. ("These were the Reagan years,/ When we lived with our finger on The Button and struggled/ To view our enemies as children.") Cellist Joshua Roman is the knockout cellist who was commissioned to turn the book into a song cycle; he called it we do it to one another. Soprano Jessica Rivera (conducted by Roman himself) will perform; then Smith and Roman will sit and talk to each other about the creative process, music, and poetry. JG
Town Hall

Feb 27–March 12

recommended Mary Stuart
You don't see this opera much, but it tells the fantastically juicy story of the real-life 16th-century battle to the death between Mary Queen of Scots, the Catholic, and Queen Elizabeth I, the virgin icon. It's not too dramatic to say that this battle was crucial in shaping the course of Western modern history. What's more, the opera was written by an Italian composer, Donizetti, a man steeped in the Roman Catholic world who was not as sympathetic to Elizabeth as history turned out to be. Facing off will be the tremendous sopranos Mary Elizabeth Williams (that name!) as Elizabeth (a local favorite after last winter's Tosca and this summer's Abigaille in Nabucco) and Italian Serena Farnocchia, making her Seattle Opera debut as Mary. (In the alternate cast, there are also debut-making singers: Lebanese Joyce El-Khoury and American Keri Alkema.) Warm up the scaffold. JG
McCaw Hall