There’s so much great music to pair with your turkey and pie this month, so let’s dig right in.
“Carmen,” Madison Opera, Overture Hall
Friday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 5, at 2:30 p.m.
The last time Madison Opera performed Bizet’s “Carmen,” I missed it. Not that I hadn’t seen it a time or two, though. “Carmen” was the first full-length opera I heard, and I suspect that’s true for many people. There really is no better place to start. With more hit tunes than most composers write in a lifetime, and a timeless story of love, jealousy and betrayal, “Carmen” is guaranteed to satisfy opera novices and creaky old critics. In this production at the Overture Center for the Arts we’ll get the highly anticipated local debuts of Aleks Romano in the title role and of director E. Loren Meeker. There are two chances to fall under the gypsy’s spell.
Richard Goode, piano recital, Shannon Hall
Saturday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.
Experience a bit of living musical history by hearing classical pianist Richard Goode on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. Always touted as the first American to record all the Beethoven sonatas, Goode’s real accomplishment is as the pianist the world’s finest singers and instrumentalists would rather play with him than anyone else. His solo recitals are unforgettable demonstrations of mastery, and his programming this weekend is impeccable: Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, with a short work by Alban Berg.
Ilya Yakushev, Salon Piano Series, Farley’s House of Pianos
Masterclass: Saturday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m.; concert: Sunday, Nov. 4, 4 p.m.
Speaking of great pianists, Russian Ilya Yakushev returns to Farley’s House of Pianos for the second in the Salon Piano Series events. The bonus is that Yakushev will on Saturday, Nov. 11, teach a masterclass for three students which the public is invited to observe for free. The concert on Sunday, Nov. 12, will features two superb offerings that can be hard to hear live: George Gershwin’s own solo piano version of “Rhapsody in Blue” and Modest Mussorgsky’s original version of “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Throw in a historic keyboard, the intimate environment and a delectable reception, and it’s a can’t-miss event.
Paul Dietrich Jazz Ensemble, Fredric March Play Circle
Friday, Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Local jazz fans already know Paul Dietrich, a 29-year-old trumpet player and composer. In June he released his second CD featuring his quintet and had a new work premiere at the Isthmus Jazz Festival. Now he brings his 18-piece band to the Fredric March Play Circle at Memorial Union for another world premiere as part of the inDIGenous series of the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium. His four-part suite is called “Forward.” But there’s a catch: The 7:30 p.m. concert on Nov. 17 is free, yet this fabulous venue seats only 180 eager listeners. The doors open at 7 p.m..
“Troubadour: Two Faces of the Classical Guitar,” Sharon Isbin with Madison Symphony Orchestra, Overture Hall
Friday, Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 19, 2:30 p.m.
We get three opportunities this month to hear the world’s most famous guitar concerto, the “Concierto de Aranjuez” of Joaquín Rodrigo, played by the incomparable Sharon Isbin with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Two of those will be concertos—Friday and Saturday nights, Nov. 17 and 18. At the Sunday, Nov. 19, matinee they’ll play the very new “Affinity” by second generation jazz icon Chris Brubeck. Music director John DeMain also offers an American classic—the suite from Aaron Copland’s first great ballet, “Billy the Kid,” and Manuel de Falla’s “The Three-Cornered Hat.”
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” Overture Hall
Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 21-22, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 24, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 25, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 26, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
A few days before Thanksgiving, the touring cast of “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” arrives to put on the first of nine performances of the whimsical and much loved story. Staged in Overture Hall, the famous songs from the animated television version are intact and with costumes and sets inspired by the original.
“Quest,” Oakwood Chamber Players, Oakwood University Woods Auditorium
Sunday, Nov. 26, 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The kickoff of the first weekend of the holiday season ends with a Sunday, Oct. 26, doubleheader, with the Oakwood Chamber Players performing in the Woods Auditorium at Oakwood Village West on Mineral Point Road. If you’re eager to hear some alternative holiday music, this is the program for you: “Snowman Suite” for string quartet by Howard Blake, “Angels in Flight” for mixed ensemble by Marjan Mozetich and John Rutter’s “Brother Heinrich’s Christmas” for vocal quartet, narrator and mixed ensemble.
Greg Hettmansberger covers the opera, classical and jazz music scene in Madison for madisonmagazine.com.