Culture Worth Traveling For: Spring 2020
Mark your calendars: Here are the season’s must-see events in art, music, theater, and performance.
This spring, the Metropolitan Museum of Art marks its 150th anniversary in grand style with the exhibition “Making the Met, 1870-2020,” which traces the institution’s development from modest civic beginnings to preeminence among the world’s cultural repositories. More than 250 works are on display, both visitor favorites—Sargent’s Madame X; Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Lute—and rarely seen treasures (March 30–Aug. 2). • This year is also the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and Carnegie Hall is celebrating with two cycles of the composer’s nine symphonies, one by the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nezét-Séguin, and the other on period instruments. • After acclaimed runs in London and at the Park Avenue Armory, The Lehman Trilogy comes to Broadway. Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, and Ben Miles assume the roles of the immigrant siblings (and later their sons and grandsons) in the tale of the rise and fall of the global financial firm (opens March 26). • This season’s other big ticket: Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker star as three different couples in Plaza Suite, Neil Simon’s incisive 1968 comedy about love and marriage (opens April 13).
The Phillips Collection, near Dupont Circle, has one of the capital’s most beloved holdings of impressionist and modern art. Now, the newly renovated museum explores the complicated history between black American artists and European modernism in “Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition” (Feb. 29–May 24). • The show “Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture” at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art considers the achievement of the 19th-century German naturalist, whose explorations throughout the western hemisphere impacted American artists, scientists, writers, and statesmen (March 20–Aug. 16). • When the Steven Holl–designed pavilions known as The Reach at the Kennedy Center opened in fall 2019, its studios, performance spaces, and outdoor areas vastly extended the institution’s range of programming. One new must: The Club at Studio K, a lab of contemporary culture showcasing hip-hop, jazz, techno, and comedy (through April 25) • Also at the Kennedy Center, the alluring mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges makes her anticipated company debut as one of opera’s great seductresses in the Washington National Opera production of Saint-Saëns’s Samson & Delilah (March 1–21).
Music director Fabio Luisi leads the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in concert performances of Richard Strauss’s Salome, an opera that remains as fascinating, lurid, and gripping as when it premiered in 1905. Its opulent score is a tour de force for the orchestra as well as the title role, portrayed by the Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte (Jan. 31–Feb. 2). • At the Dallas Museum of Art, the show “Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art” surveys the varying depictions of women before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 (Feb. 15–Sept. 20). • “Nature’s Art: The Mineral Beauty of China” is a rare display of unusual specimens that dazzle with their color and shape at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (through Sept. 7). • In nearby Fort Worth, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art gleams after a recent refurbishment. The pioneering show “Looking In: Photography from the Outside” examines the work of six photographers, including Richard Avedon, Dorothea Lange, and Laura Gilpin (through May 10).
Since its opening in 2017 near the foot of Tower Bridge, the Bridge Theatre has claimed a particular place in London’s theater landscape, presenting new work as well as revivals of gripping dramas such as Caryl Churchill’s A Number. Staged by Polly Findlay, this play considers genetic experimentation and its consequences (Feb. 14–March 14). • The Royal Ballet presents the revival of its spectacular production of Swan Lake, with additional choreography by Liam Scarlett and starry casts that include principal dancer Natalia Osipova and guest artist David Hallberg as her ardent prince (March 5–May 16). • In the landmark exhibition “Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company,” the Wallace Collection rediscovers the overlooked achievements of a group of 18th- and 19th-century painters from the subcontinent (through April 19). • Picasso—painter, sculptor, ceramicist—possessed a superhuman gift of invention. With more than 300 works from his 80-year career, “Picasso and Paper” at the Royal Academy of Arts reveals the innumerable ways in which the artist employed the medium, from drawings to collages to three-dimensional cut-outs (Jan. 25–April 13).
Among the city’s many concert halls, the Philharmonie de Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel, stands out for its inventive thematic programs. Week-End Elles shines a spotlight on women composers and conductors, including the electrifying Lithuanian Mirga Gražinyté-Tyla, leading the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (March 19–22). • Opening later this spring, the Bourse de Commerce–Collection Pinault Paris will be a project like none other in the city. The domed 16th-century landmark, later converted into Paris’s commodity exchange building, will house the contemporary art collection of luxury goods magnate François Pinault in a Tadao Ando–designed cylinder inserted beneath its grand iron-and-glass cupola. • Across the Rue de Royale from Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel—and designed by the same architect—the 18th-century Hôtel de la Marine once housed the furniture of the French crown and later served as the Naval Ministry. Due to reopen in late spring, its magnificently restored salons and ballrooms will display period furniture, decorative objects, and tapestries.
The Abu Dhabi Festival presents the first-ever collaboration between two preeminent U.S. performing arts organizations—American Ballet Theatre and the Cleveland Orchestra, led by music director Franz Welser-Möst—in Kenneth MacMillan’s enduring staging of Romeo & Juliet. Principal dancers Misty Copeland and Herman Cornejo will play the star-crossed lovers one evening, followed by rising stars Cassandra Trenary and Calvin Royal III the other. Welser-Möst also leads the orchestra in two concerts featuring solo performances by baritone Simon Keenlyside and cellist Yo-Yo Ma (March 31–April 4). • The Louvre Abu Dhabi presents the exhibition “Furusiyya: The Art of Chivalry Between and East and West,” a comparison of knightly codes from Syria and Iraq to France and Spain. In collaboration with the Musée Cluny in Paris, it will show works from the 10th through the 16th century, including splendid armor and precious manuscripts (Feb. 19–May 3).
After a four-year renovation, the Hong Kong Museum of Art reopened last November on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, near Rosewood Hong Kong. To mark the reopening—which expanded exhibition space by 40 percent—eleven exhibitions draw from the collection of Chinese painting, calligraphy, porcelains, and other antiquities, as well as a special landscape show on loan from Tate Britain, “A Sense of Place: from Turner to Hockney.” • The Hong Kong Arts Festival, which celebrates its 48th season in 2020, remains a showcase of international performing arts—music, theater, dance—along with family programs. Highlights include the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, the Bavarian State Opera, and the avant garde flamenco dancer Rocío Molina (Feb. 13–March 14).
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