Two more of Madison's major musical organizations, the Wisconsin Chamber Or have announced their schedules for the 2010-2011 season.
Celebrating Andrew Sewell's 10th anniversary as conductor, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has projected a season of Masterworks concerts that combine warhorses with novelties and experiments.
Most curious at first sight is the plan to perform two familiar Beethoven Symphonies, the Eighth (Oct. 9) and the Seventh (April 8), and the Schubert Eighth (Oct. 29). But Sewell is ending this current season with Schubert's Ninth Symphony. And, on further thought, such choices make sense, for a group the size of the WCO can restore the balance of winds to strings that would have been normal in the days of Beethoven and Schubert.
Another warhorse, more predictable, is Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," featuring violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky (Oct. 9). Pianists are a natural presence, with Anne Marie McDermot playing Mozart's great Concerto No. 24 (April 8), and sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton in the Two-Piano Concerto in E by the teenage Mendelssohn (Oct. 29).
Several concerts will feature music by such contemporary composers as Michael Torke (Oct. 29), Jennifer Higdon (March 4) and Charles Wuorinen (April 8). A program featuring the jazz trio Time for Three (March 4) will balance out with classic "modern" pieces by Gustav Holst (the "St. Paul's Suite") and Darius Milhaud ("Le Boeuf sur le toit").
The most experimental program is that of January 21, which will include a Vivaldi concerto, but will open with Respighi's Third Suite of "Ancient Dances and Airs", and then close with a really rare collage of nine short dance movements, each by a different French composer of the early 20th century. Called "The Fan of Jeanne", the set was commissioned in 1927 by dance patroness Jeanne Dubost for the use of her pupils. Just a performance of this full cycle is an extreme novelty, but the WCO has appropriately invited the Madison Ballet to dance their choreographic realization of this set.
Of course, the WCO will also present its annual Holiday Pops concert (Nov. 27, 28) and its holiday "Messiah" (Dec. 10), as well as the 2010 Concerts on the Square.
For its part, Madison Opera is observing a pair of anniversaries. Its coming season celebrates the 50th anniversary of the company's founding in 1961 -- a track record a lot of larger companies in larger cities might well envy.
There will be two full-scale productions in Overture Hall, and a more intimate one in the Playhouse, all three to be conducted by John DeMain. The two larger ones will offer two beloved favorites. Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro will be presented Nov. 5 and 7. Recently acclaimed for his Don Giovanni, Jason Hardy will play Figaro, and Metropolitan Opera baritone Jeff Mattsey will portray Count Almaviva. Anya Matanovic will be Susanna, and Melody Moore, remembered from Opera in the Park in 2008, will be the Countess. The production brought from the New York City Opera is directed by A. Scott Parry.
The other larger presentation will be of Verdi's La Traviata, on April 29 and May 1, in the plush sets of the Chicago Lyric Opera's production, as directed by Garnett Bruce. The tragic role of Violetta will bring back Elizabeth Caballero, remembered for her Carmen here last year. On the other hand, in the role of Alfredo, Italian tenor Giuseppe Varano will make not only his Madison but his U.S. debut, while baritone Donnie Ray Albert, of Opera in the Park a few years back, will sing Germont.
In between, Madison Opera will give another of its smaller mid-season productions, and again in the Playhouse, where it so enterprisingly ventured Britten's "Turn of the Screw" this season. It's another 20th-century novelty this time, Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera, a jazzy setting of Bertholt Brecht's adaptation of The Beggar's Opera. This production, directed by Dorothy Danner, will feature the Madison Opera debuts of two performers with a difference, famous already as actors with the American Players Theater: James DeVita as the swashbuckling Macheath and Tracy Michelle Arnold as the treacherous Jenny Diver. Performances will run Feb. 4-13.
And then there is that other anniversary, the 10th for Opera in the Park itself, given free to the public. It will be celebrated on July 16, 2011 at Garner Park, with the usual mix of opera and Broadway, featuring guest soloists as well as the Madison Opera Chorus and the Madison Symphony Orchestra.