NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC: “BUGS BUNNY AT THE SYMPHONY II” / BEETHOVEN EROICA / CORIGLIANO SYMPHONY No. 1
David Geffen Hall (“Bugs Bunny” May 17-18) / (Eroica May 22-23, 25 & 28) / Corigliano May 30)
A month of laudable eclecticism by The New York Philharmonic commences with “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II,” classic Warner Brothers cartoons scored live; a cinematic gambit the NY Phil performs as well as any orchestra around. Music director Jaap van Zweden then conducts Beethoven’s Napoleonic Eroica, alongside Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony, before ending the month with John Corigliano’s heart-rending Symphony No. 1, the composer’s deeply personal tribute to those lost to AIDS in the 1980s, presented as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Stonewall uprising and the Philharmonic’s own “Music of Conscience” series, devoted to pieces created in response to historic events and unrest, both political and social.
DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES / WAGNER’S “RING CYCLE”
The Metropolitan Opera House
The Met’s 2018-2019 season concludes with a revival of John Dexter’s indelible production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, conducted by the Met’s new musical director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring the incandescent Isabel Leonard and the heart-stopping Karita Mattila. Wagner’s complete “Ring” Cycle rounds out the month, à la Robert Lepage’s controversial staging, with Jamie Barton in her Met Wagnerian debut as Fricka and Christine Goerke in ascendance as Brünnhilde.
NEW WORLD SYMPHONY and THE MET ORCHESTRA
Carnegie Hall (May 1) / Zankel Hall (May 2) and Carnegie Hall (May 18)
Two symphonic ensembles with elite dual functions are spotlighted in May at Carnegie Hall. The New World Symphony arrives first, orchestra of the eponymous Miami Beach-based teaching academy for young virtuosos, led by its founder and artistic director, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, performing Prokofiev’s final piano concerto, No. 5, with pianist Yuja Wang; Berlioz’s epic of romantic obsession, Symphonie fantastique; and the New York premiere of Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe’s Fountain of Youth, a joint commission of New World Symphony and Carnegie Hall. Conductor and orchestra, with Wang and soprano Measha Brueggergosman, return to Carnegie’s smaller Zankel Hall the following night for a program of Tilson Thomas’ own compositions, plus Schubert’s String Quartet in D Minor (“Death and the Maiden”), as arranged for string orchestra by Gustav Mahler and “edited” by Maestro Tilson Thomas.
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, having just completed its primary opera-accompanying duties with the close of the Met season, will arrive on its own at Carnegie Hall to assay Schubert’s (“Great”) Symphony No. 9, under the direction of the titanic Valery Gergiev, together with Robert Schumann’s only piano concerto, played by the incomparable Daniil Trifonov.
JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER: “ELLINGTON THROUGH THE AGES”
The Rose Theater (May 3 & 4)
The full sweep of Duke Ellington’s genius will be celebrated by Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis leading a 14-person ensemble of young jazz “comers,” many of them alumni of JALC’s Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band. Veteran ringers will include trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and reed man Dan Block.