Fall's best classical and opera events

This season brings the epic Nine Rivers and the Met's first staging of Anna Bolena.

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  • Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe/Metropolitan Opera

    Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena

    Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena

  • Photograph: Bill Dean

    Steve Schick at the premiere of Nine Rivers

    Steve Schick at the premiere of Nine Rivers

  • Photograph: Michael Kneffel

    Whirling Dervish from Istanbul

    Whirling Dervish from Istanbul

Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe/Metropolitan Opera

Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena

Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena

Anna Bolena
Drama! Intrigue! Divas! Madness! Renowned Scottish director David McVicar ventures into the bel canto repertoire, staging the Met's first-ever production of Donizetti's breakthrough tragedy. McVicar transports the audience back to Tudor England to witness the demise of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn. Soprano Anna Netrebko is the doomed queen, betrayed by her lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour (played here by rising Russian mezzo Ekaterina Gubanova) and driven to madness before actually losing her head. Since Maria Callas's legendary portrayal in the 1957 La Scala revival, the arduous role has become a calling card for dramatic sopranos. Last spring, Netrebko's first incarnation, at the Vienna Staatsoper, won universal praise, and we expect she'll bloom even more under McVicar's guidance. Anna Bolena begins the Met's project of presenting all three of Donizetti's Tudor Queen operas, which also include Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux. Marco Armiliato conducts the marvelous Met Orchestra. Metropolitan Opera House (at Lincoln Center). Sept 26--Oct 28. Times and prices vary; visit metopera.org for more info.

Nine Rivers
If you're struggling to kick your brain into high gear for fall, allow Columbia's Miller Theatre to lead you on a three-night journey through James Dillon's multimedia epic, Nine Rivers. The work was written over the course of 18 years and finally performed in its entirety, to great fanfare, in the composer's hometown of Glasgow last November. Prior to that, the premiere of the three-and-a-half-hour piece—which requires more than 50 musicians, an octophonic sound system and a 48-channel mixing board—was canceled five times. To accommodate the vast technical requirements, Miller has divided the piece into three bite-size concerts featuring drum guru Steven Schick and his San Diego--based percussion ensemble Red Fish Blue Fish, as well as Philly vocal group the Crossing and New York's own International Contemporary Ensemble. Miller Theatre (millertheatre.com). Sept 14, 16, 17 at 8pm; $40, three-concert cycle $100.

Wordless Music Orchestra
The always on-point ensemble marks the anniversary of 9/11 with a meditative program of Schnittke, Golijov, Ingram Marshall and William Basinski at the Temple of Dendur. Metropolitan Museum of Art (wordlessmusic.org). Sept 11 at 3:30pm; free with museum admission.

Mariinsky Orchestra
Yo-Yo Ma joins maestro Valery Gergiev and the legendary Russian ensemble for the opening gala, followed by a cycle of Tchaikovsky's six symphonies. Carnegie Hall (carnegiehall.org). Oct 5--11.

White Light Festival
The inaugural edition of Lincoln Center's spiritual music festival transformed New York's cultural scene last fall. New highlights include a sequel to Shakespeare's Othello conceived by Toni Morrison, Peter Sellars and Malian singer Rokia Traor; a light-and-sound spectacular inspired by mystic Russian composer Scriabin; and much more. Lincoln Center (lincolncenter.org). Oct 20--Nov 19. Times and prices vary.

Brooklyn Philharmonic
In his first season as music director, Alan Pierson reboots the outer-borough orchestra with programs embracing Brooklyn's inspiring diversity. In October, hip-hop legend Mos Def joins Pierson for a pair of season-preview concerts. Bed-Stuy Restoration (restorationplaza.org). Oct 8 at 8pm. The Winter Garden at the World Financial Center (bphil.org). Oct 12 at 7pm. Free.

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