Even Shakespeare would be satisfied with the scads of opportunities in the Bay Area to hear classical music and see dance in all their variety — old and new, symphonic, chamber and opera, and ballet and modern. Here are just a handful of the fall season’s classical highlights.
‘Karenina’ West Coast entry via San Jose
Tolstoy’s dramatic novel “Anna Karenina” is the basis of David Carlson’s 2007 opera, which will have its West Coast debut opening Opera San Jose’s 27th season under founding director Irene Dalis. Stewart Robertson, former music director of Glimmerglass Opera, conducts. The title role is sung in the double-cast production by Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste and Jasmina Halimic, new members of OSJ’s resident company. [Sept. 11-26. $51-$101. California Theatre, 345 South First St., San Jose, (408) 437-4450; www.operasj.org]
Chanticleer goes into orbit
The City’s Grammy-winning choral group has a busy season of concerts in 21 states and 12 countries, each program featuring the group’s 12 singers under new music director Matt Oltman. The ensemble, which appeared in China during “San Francisco Week” at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, will perform home concerts as well. The theme for the first series is “Out of This World,” with music about the sun, moon, stars and planets. Monteverdi, Palestrina, Schumann and Mahler are paired with contemporaries Gershwin, Britten and San Francisco’s Kirke Mechem.
A world premiere of work about transmissions from outer space by Berkeley composer Mason Bates and “Cells Planets” by Erika Lloyd of Little Grey Girlfriend also are on the program. [8 p.m. Sept. 17, 5 p.m. Sept. 19. $20-$44. San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak St., S.F., (415) 252-8589; www.cityboxoffice.com]
Philharmonia goes from Baroque to Mozart
The music Baroque period runs roughly from the late 1500s to the early 1700s. Mozart, who will be featured exclusively in the first concerts of the Philharmonia Baroque’s 30th season, came later, 1756-1791. No matter, Nicholas McGegan’s period-instrument orchestra has ventured outside “strictly Baroque” before, and it will again.
These concerts present an international authority on Mozart, musicologist and pianist Robert Levin.
Besides playing a Mozart concerto, Levin will present the U.S. premiere of a hitherto unknown work by Mozart, fragments of music for fortepiano and orchestra. Another Levin specialty: playing variations on themes suggested by the audience. McGegan will also conduct Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter.” [8 p.m. Sept. 24. $25-$85. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave, S.F., (415) 392-4400; www.philharmonia.org]
Mark Morris dance with Socrates
The association between the Mark Morris Dance Group and Cal Performances has been long and happy, the renowned choreographer bringing new works here on a regular basis. This year, the company presents the West Coast premiere of “Socrates,” a three-part drama with text by Plato and music by Erik Satie. Unlike dancing to recorded music as many small companies do, Morris once again uses live accompaniment, a tenor and a pianist.
Also on the program: Morris’ 2007 “Looky,” with music by Kyle Gann with diverse references to Satie, Czerny, Nancarrow and Jelly Roll Morton. The program begins with 1990’s “Behemoth,” Morris’ only work danced in silence, originally an hour long, now pared down to about 40 minutes. It’s one of his more challenging and less popular dances. [Sept. 30-Oct. 3. $34-$72. Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, (510) 642-9988; www.calperfs.berkeley.edu]
‘ODD’ in ODC Theater
The new ODC Theater is the venue for a first-time collaboration between inkBoat and AXIS Dance, a work called “ODD,” inspired by Scandinavian painter Odd Nerdrum. The inkBoat dancers will share the stage with AXIS Dance Company, a unique ensemble which integrates performers with and without disabilities.
This world-premiere is a series of dances choreographed by current ODC artist-in-residence and inkBoat Artistic Director Shinichi Iova-Koga, with musical accompaniment by cellist-composer Joan Jeanrenaud, formerly of the Kronos Quartet, and musician-vocalist Dohee Lee. [Nov. 5-7. $15-$18. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., S.F., (415) 863-9834; www.odctheater.org]
‘Four Seasons’ times two
Violinist and conductor Robert McDuffie will lead the Venice Baroque Orchestra in an unusual concert, pairing Vivaldi’s 1723 “Four Seasons” with the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass’ 2009 Violin Concerto No. 2. Glass’ concerto, titled “The American Four Seasons,” was written for McDuffie, who premiered it last year in Toronto. [8 p.m. Nov. 2. $40-$65; Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 392-2545; www.performances.org]
Ellington at S.F. Symphony gala
Majestic soprano Jessye Norman is the star of the San Francisco Symphony’s season-opening gala, singing Duke Ellington songs, including “Sophisticated Lady” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing).” Conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the concert — surrounded by the usual fund-raising society events — also presents music by Berlioz, Copland and Ravel. [8:30 p.m. Sept. 7. $140-$265. Davies Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 864-6000; www.sfsymphony.com]
Big-time ‘Aida,’ minus elephants
Verdi’s “Aida,” which opens the San Francisco Opera season, is one of the most spectacular works in the operatic canon, with its Triumphal March featuring elephants in some outdoor productions. Live pachyderms will be absent in the War Memorial, but London designer Zandra Rhodes’ staging includes a big blue fabric one. Nicola Luisotti conducts performances in September and October, and Micaela Carosi makes her San Francisco debut in the title role. [Sept. 10-Dec. 5. $25 to $320. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 864-3330 www.sfopera.com]
For 19 years, WestWave Dance has been presenting contemporary choreography. This year’s programs begin with a rich mix of dancers and choreographers from Amy Seiwert’s “im’ij-re,” Kat Worthington’s Copious Dance Theater, Katie Faulkner’s little seismic dance company, the Stacey Printz Dance Company, and Takehiro Ueyama’s TAKE Dance. [8 p.m. Sept. 20. $18-$25. Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F., (415) 345-7575; www.westwavedancefestival.org]