Even in the best of times, opera and dance are endangered art forms. Their audiences are loyal but small, and not necessarily growing. Yet they persevere because there will always be a core constituency that supports new and classic work. The Metropolitan Opera reopened for business in the fall and, unlike many theater events, has not missed performances due to covid outbreaks. But the Met is only the tip of the NYC opera scene, and this spring there are several indie opera events to choose from. Same goes for dance. City Center is throwing a big-tent festival of top-tier companies—Ballet Hispánico, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Martha Graham—but you can catch younger talent at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Big ticket or small, opera and dance are back this spring. Go and cheer them.
The trailblazing Beth Morrison Projects and St. Ann’s Warehouse present the delayed premiere of this opera-puppetry spectacle, which had been planned for January’s Prototype festival. Composer Huang Ruo musicalizes a fourth-century BCE Chinese creation myth, which is visually manifested by designer-director Basil Twist. Expect a stage full of massive, elemental puppets, and Ruo conducting the Choir of Trinity Wall Street to create a sensory explosion.
Can we somehow preserve our personality, our essence, after death? That’s the philosophical question posed by Dutch composer and film auteur Michel van der Aa. In his new multimedia opera, a daughter (the sublime soprano Julia Bullock) uploads her father’s memories and thoughts to create a “virtual resurrection.” Opera has always excelled with stories of heroes who dare too much, who feel too deeply and this sounds like Icarus territory.
Kamala Sankaram’s 2019 opera with librettist Rob Handel gets its New York City premiere thanks to New Camerata Opera. The one-act chamber opera follows Ada, Countess of Lovelace and Lord Byron’s daughter, a visionary involved in the development of 19th-century proto-computers. Ada struggles between her work in mathematics and social obligations as a mother and wife. She pioneered the algorithm, but Victorian hypocrisy is a harder code to crack.
After Fire Shut Up in My Bones and Eurydice, the Met is making good on its promise to produce new opera. Now comes a piece that premiered at Glyndebourne 2017, based on a little-known play by Shakespeare. Australian composer Brett Dean and librettist Matthew Jocelyn (the latter using 20% of the original text) musicalize the story of a melancholy Dane vacillating over revenge in two acts. Allan Clayton reprises his performance as the titular prince.
One of master choreographer Mark Morris’s most beloved works returns to BAM after two decades: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. Danced to music by George Frideric Handel, this glorious triptych refers to three states of being from the title: happy, thoughtful, and moderate. Philosophical yet kinetic, playful yet profound, this sublime conversation between modernity and classicism will be on every dance aficionado’s must-see list. Featuring the Choir of Trinity Wall Street with Downtown Voices conducted by Colin Fowler.
Not to be confused with its Fall for Dance program, City Center is inaugurating its first spring dance festival this year. The iconic venue welcomes back Paul Taylor Dance Company (a world premiere by Lauren Lovette), Ballet Hispánico (New York premiere of Doña Perón), Dance Theatre of Harlem (New York premieres of Robert Garland’s Higher Ground and Claudia Schreier’s Passage), and Martha Graham Dance Company. The latter troupe will present a new version of the 1952 mystery play Canticle for Innocent Comedians, reimagined by Tony winner Sonya Tayeh (Moulin Rouge! The Musical).
Come for a little knowledge and a lot of dancing. On Friday nights through May at the David Rubenstein Atrium, DJs spin tunes from Latin, K-Pop, and hip-hop. The April 8 night celebrates K-Pop juggernaut BTS. NYC’s own K-Pop specialist DJ Gamma Vibes will play the group’s biggest hits and deep cuts for show that will get you up and jumping. It’s all free.
After a two-year pause, Minneapolis-based choreographer and dancer Ashwini Ramaswamy’s meditation on crows and memory has its New York premiere. Fusing folk imagery and ancestry, Ramaswamy presents three dance solos, which recall a memory that has a common origin but is remembered differently by individuals. Live music by composers Jace Clayton and Brent Arnold samples and deconstructs classical South Indian music by Prema Ramamurthy.