San Francisco Opera's new music director, Nicola Luisotti, makes his debut with an arresting new production of Giuseppe Verdi's crowd-pleasing potboiler about a Gypsy woman who vows to avenge her mother's death. The all-star cast features baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe. Head to AT&T Park on Sat., Sept. 19, to experience a live simulcast of director David McVicar's production for free.
Sept. 11-Oct. 6. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. $15-$302; call 864-3330 or visit www.sfopera.com.
Mahler Festival, Itzhak Perlman, the Berlin Philharmonic, and Bach
The San Francisco Symphony and its director, Michael Tilson Thomas, have developed a global reputation for their take on Gustav Mahler's music. Following the August launch of its new recording of Symphony No. 8 and the adagio movement from Symphony No. 10, the orchestra kicks off its new season with a three-week festival devoted to the 19th-century Austrian composer (Sept. 16-Oct. 3). Further highlights of the fall season include a series of Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Elgar concerts led by the Israeli-American violin virtuoso and conductor Itzhak Perlman (Oct. 14-18) and a visit from the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic (Nov. 20-21).
Sept. 16-Nov. 21. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. $35-$135; call 864-6000 or visit www.sfsymphony.org.
Thomas Hampson at San Francisco Performances
When most people think of the American songbook, names like Irving Berlin and George Gershwin come to mind. Song was a bedrock of this country's cultural identity long before the Jazz Age, however. The superlative American baritone Thomas Hampson hopes to make this plain in a special celebration of hymns, folk songs, war songs, African-American spirituals, and other works by this country's great composers from the 17th century to the present.
Wed., Sept. 30. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. $32-$49; call 677-0325 or visit www.sfperformances.org.
The S.F. Girls Chorus
The Girls Chorus gets mystical this fall with a program of vocal music devoted to Eastern spirituality and philosophy. American composer Abbie Betinis creates a sensual musical riff on the metaphors of the medieval Persian poet Hâfez with From Behind the Caravan, John Tavener's Two Hadiths of the Prophet Mohammed pays homage to Islam's founder, and Gustav Holst's Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda explore Indian scripture. With guest harpist Karen Gottlieb.
Fri., Oct. 23. Calvary Presbyterian Church, 2515 Fillmore (at Jackson), S.F. $25-$32; call 392-4400 or visit www.sfgirlschorus.org.
The New Century Chamber Orchestra Celebrates William Bolcom
This ever-innovative San Francisco–based chamber orchestra spotlights the Pulitzer Prize–winning American composer Bolcom as part of its 18th season (and second season under the leadership of violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg). The group's November program includes Bolcom's haunting Serenata Notturna for Oboe and Strings featuring soloist Laura Griffiths of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and three of Bolcom's well-known piano rags arranged for strings. (Romanza, Bolcom's violin concerto written especially for Salerno-Sonnenberg and New Century, will receive its premiere in May, not in November as was previously printed in error in SF Weekly.)
Sat., Nov. 21. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. $32-$125; call 357-1111 or visit www.ncco.org.
Fall Arts Guide
Nicola Luisotti by Chloe Veltman
Stage Sage: Speculating about this season's theatrical experiments by Chris Jensen
Other Fall Stage Events by Chris Jensen
Harpoons and Harbingers: This fall, visual artists bite, reflect, and cannibalize by Traci Vogel
Art listings compiled by John Graham
HUM525: Hitting the Books: Your required reading for the fall semester by Jonathan Kiefer