Holiday Performing Arts Preview

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The Washington Ballet's "The Nutcracker." Photo by Dean Alexander. Courtesy TWB.

CLOSE TO HOME

Let’s start with the Dumbartons. Dumbarton Concerts at Dumbarton United Methodist Church hosts a tribute to John Coltrane by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (Dec. 1) and, a week later, a candlelit “Celtic Christmas” by the Barnes and Hampton Celtic Consort (Dec. 8 and 9). Vocal ensemble Blue Heron will perform “Christmas in 15th-Century France and Burgundy” at Dumbarton Oaks (Dec. 2 and 3). And the Friday Morning Music Club presents a chamber music concert at Dumbarton House on a Tuesday (Dec. 4).

“Sing Thee Nowell!” is an intimate mediation on the Christmas season by New York Polyphony, a foursome of male singers. St. John’s Church Georgetown, Nov. 24.

Down on Water Street, “A Gypsy Sally’s Holiday Hoedown” will feature indie roots rock band the Woodshedders and Americana band Bearcat Wildcat. Gypsy Sally’s, Dec. 7.

You’ll find plenty of seasonal jazz on the December calendar at Blues Alley, including: Spur of the Moment’s “Soulful Christmas” (Dec. 13), violinist Chelsey Green & the Green Project’s “A Very Green Christmas” (Dec. 15), keyboardist Marcus Johnson’s “Christmas Jam” (Dec. 20 to 23) and pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s “Tis the Season” (Dec. 26 to 30).

COMMEMORATING THE ARMISTICE

This weekend is the last chance to see Washington National Opera’s “Silent Night,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning work by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell about a Christmas truce on the Western Front during World War I. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, through Nov. 25.

National Symphony Orchestra Music Director Gianandrea Noseda will lead the NSO, the Choral Arts Society of Washington and the Children’s Chorus of Washington in two performances of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem.” Soloists include soprano Karina Flores, tenor Ian Bostridge and baritone Matthias Goerne. Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Nov. 29 and Dec. 1.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS IN MUSIC

In conjunction with the exhibition “Churchill’s Shakespeare,” Folger Consort — with organist Webb Wiggins and a vocal ensemble — will perform “A Christmas Messe,” a program of seasonal English music named for a 1619 manuscript. Folger Theatre, Dec. 14 to 23.

The Cathedral Choral Society, conducted by Steven Fox, will present “Joy of Christmas,” featuring beloved Christmas choral music and a new carol by composer Paul Moravec. Also featured: Seraph Brass, carillonist Edward Nassor, organist Jeremy Filsell and the Madrigal Singers of National Cathedral School and St. Albans School. All this, plus festive sing-alongs. Washington National Cathedral, Dec. 15 and 16.

This year’s “Christmas with Choral Arts” program is “Songs of the Season,” with a candlelight processional and a varied program featuring soprano Esther Heiderman, conducted by Scott Tucker and Brandon Straub. Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Dec. 16, 17 and 24.

Nicholas McGegan will conduct the NSO, the University of Maryland Concert Choir and soloists Yulia van Doren, Meg Bragle, Miles Mykkanen and William Berger in this year’s performances of Handel’s “Messiah.” Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Dec. 20 to 23.

NUTCRACKERS AND SCROOGES

The Washington Ballet will again showcase former artistic director Septime Webre’s version of “The Nutcracker,” now in its 15th season, with nearly 40 matinee and evening performances. Set in Georgetown, complete with George Washington, the magical show includes Washington children in the cast. Super Value Performances: Dec. 11, 12 and 13. Warner Theatre, Nov. 19 to Dec. 28.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, the National Museum of Women in the Arts will host two benefits for the Washington Ballet: Breakfast with the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Tea Party, with hands-on activities for children and opportunities to pose for photos with cast members. The events precede and follow the 1 p.m. performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Warner.

Other “Nutcrackers” include a new Ballet West production in the Kennedy Center Opera House (Dec. 5 to 9), “Ellington’s Nutcracker” with the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra at Blues Alley (Dec. 11 and 12) and, at Strathmore, Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” (Dec. 16 and 17) and “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” with MC Kurtis Blow (Dec. 18 and 19).

There are probably as many Scrooges as Nutcrackers, chief among them “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre (with one president in attendance in spirit), starring Craig Wallace as Scrooge (through Dec. 30). Matthew J. Keenan’s “An Irish Carol,” set in a Dublin pub, will return to the Keegan Theatre in Dupont (Dec. 13 to 31). And Paul Morella’s one-man version is coming back to Olney Theatre Center (Nov. 23 to Dec. 30), where you can also see “Elf the Musical” (through Jan. 6).

MORE MUSICAL EVENTS

The In Series presents “Operetta Wonderland: The Magic of Victor Herbert,” a selection of hits from Herbert’s turn-of-the-century Broadway shows, such as “Sweethearts,” “Naughty Marietta” and “Babes in Toyland.” D.C. Scottish Rite Temple, Nov. 28 and Dec. 1 and 2.

Holiday-time presentations by Washington Performing Arts include: cellist Yo-Yo Ma bowing the complete Bach cello suites at Washington National Cathedral, simulcast to a large screen in Union Station (Nov. 29); a free Millennium Stage concert at the Kennedy Center by Children of the Gospel Choir (Dec. 5); and a performance of works by Couperin, Schumann, Satie and Glass by pianist Simone Dinnerstein in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (Dec. 6).

Joined by Mark Morris dancers Billy Smith and Lesley Garrison, the Aeolus Quartet will explore the avant-garde of 1960s Japan and its legacy, performing works by Toru Takemitsu, Akira Miyoshi, Henry Cowell, Philip Glass and Osvaldo Golijov. Freer Gallery of Art, Dec. 1.

The Russian Chamber Art Society presents “Two Poets in Music: Whitman and Pushkin,” with settings of their works by composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Lee Hoiby, César Cui, Charles Ives, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Dmitri Shostakovich sung in English and Russian by soprano Shelley Jackson and baritone Kevin Wetzel. Embassy of France, Dec. 6.

Made plans for New Year’s Eve yet? Here’s a suggestion for the night before. The Strauss Symphony of America, conducted by Christoph Campestrini, presents a “Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert” with soprano Iva Schell and tenor Martin Piskorski, also featuring dancers from Europaballett St. Pölten and international champion ballroom dancers. Strathmore, Dec. 30.

COMEDY

The Second City comedy troupe is on two D.C. stages next month, with an all-female team roasting the patriarchy at “She the People” at Woolly Mammoth (Dec. 3 to Jan. 6) and a satiric riff on a certain holiday movie, “Love, Factually,” in the Kennedy Center Theater Lab (Dec. 4 to 31). And, for fans of the “sad clown with the golden voice,” YouTube star Puddles will throw a “Puddles Pity Party” in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater (Dec. 14).

NON-HOLIDAY THEATER, MOSTLY

Scena’s Theatre’s all-woman version of Oscar Wilde’s “A Woman of No Importance” is closing soon at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, as is “King John,” directed by Aaron Posner at the Folger Theatre (through Dec. 2). Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” is at Arena Stage, directed by Artistic Director Molly Smith (through Dec. 23), soon to be joined by “Indecent,” Paula Vogel’s behind-the-scenes look at a controversial Yiddish drama (Nov. 23 to Dec. 30). “Gem of the Ocean,” a gem of the late, great August Wilson’s “American Century” cycle of plays, set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, is coming to Round House Theatre (Nov. 28 to Dec. 23).

Lanford Wilson’s “Talley’s Folly,” a rom-com set in 1940s Missouri, has been staged by that busy Posner guy for Theatre J at GALA Hispanic Theatre while Theater J’s space is in the midst of renovations (Dec. 3 to 30). And, in his last season at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the legendary Michael Kahn directs “The Panties, the Partner and the Profit: Scenes from the Heroic Life of the Middle Class,” David Ives’s “translaptation” of works by Carl Sternheim, at the Lansburgh Theatre (Dec. 4 to Jan. 6).

Get out to Tysons much? Why not catch Paula Vogel’s “A Civil War Christmas,” directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes at 1st Stage (Nov. 29 to Dec. 23).

AND A COUPLE FEBRUARY SAVE-THE-DATES

Jess Gillam, the first saxophonist to win the woodwind final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, will make her U.S. debut, performing works by Ravel, Milhaud, Bartók and Britten with pianist Thomas Weaver. Phillips Collection, Feb. 3.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, celebrating its 60th anniversary, will present three different programs over a six-day stand. Kennedy Center Opera House, Feb. 5 to 10.

 

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