Articles

The Culturalist’s Calendar: Top Exhibitions, Performances & More for Fall 2023 & Winter 2024

Mario R. Mercado details what’s on at the world’s leading institutions, including museum openings, new exhibitions and live performances.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about our favorite itineraries in culture hubs around the world—this year and beyond.

Buildings of Note

Perelman Performing Arts Center, New York City

Years in the making, the striking Perelman Performing Arts Center has opened at the World Trade Center. Amid neighboring skyscrapers, the eight-story, white-marble cube designed by Joshua Ramus/REX is seemingly modest in scale. But it is spectacular in design, with three stages that can be variously configured (a total of 60 ways)—including as one large theater—to showcase music, theater, dance, opera and film. Programming is commensurately wide-ranging. Among holiday programs are performances by the lively, genre-crossing string and vocal trio, Time for Three (December 22), and a song evening with Broadway stars Orfeh and Andy Karl (December 23).

The Louis Armstrong House Museum and Center, New York City

Given his achievement as one of the 20th century’s preeminent jazz artists—trumpeter, vocalist, bandleader—it might surprise some that Louis Armstrong lived with his wife Lucille in a relatively modest house in Queens, New York. The two-story residence, located on a quiet street in the Corona neighborhood, provides a glimpse into their lives, including Armstrong’s den, where he welcomed such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie. The new 14,000-square-foot Louis Armstrong Center is directly across from the house museum on 107th Street. It preserves the musician’s remarkable legacy, with a 60,000-piece archive of correspondence, photographs and recordings, alongside a listening room and an interactive exhibition Here to Stay.

The Royal Palace Het Loo, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands

The Paleis Het Loo, located on the outskirts of Apeldoorn, two hours east of Amsterdam, was built in 1686 as a royal hunting lodge for William III and Queen Mary. The palace remained a summer residence of the Dutch royal family throughout much of the 20th century before opening to the public in 1984. Now, after a renovation of more than $180 million, it has unveiled a remarkable transformation—a 54,000-square-foot expansion, uniquely placed beneath the palace courtyard. The extension includes a new entrance hall, galleries, and an exhibition devoted to a history of the House of Orange. As part of the five-year project, the entire palace was restored—paintings, tapestries, embellished ceilings, furnishings—to accommodate the display of the royal art collection.

Regional Museum of the Peoples of Morelos, Cuernavaca, Mexico

After the conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521 by Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador built a palace for himself and his wife in Cuernavaca, south of present-day Mexico City. The palace-fortress, begun in the 1520s and completed in 1535, features distinctive crenelated walls. Throughout the centuries, it served various functions before being converted in 1974 to a museum focused on the history of the State of Morelos. Severely damaged in the 2017 Puebla earthquake, the museum has reopened after an extensive restoration. On special display: an Olmec bas-relief carving depicting an “earth monster,” whose gaping jaws signify a portal to the underworld. The sought-after artifact, a nearly six-foot, one-ton sculpture known as Chalcatzingo Monument 9, was repatriated to Mexico this spring from the United States.

Exhibitions 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Dress was integral to the portraits of John Singer Sargent. Clothing variously revealed subjects’ personalities, social standing, professions and nationalities. The painter assumed an active role in the cultivation of his sitters’ appearance, and readily altered what his clients wore. The exhibition “Fashioned by Sargent” pairs 50 paintings with more than a dozen period garments and accessories to illuminate the relationship between fashion and Sargent’s creative work. Through January 15, 2024.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

With more than 150 paintings and works on paper by two of the most influential painters of the 19th century, “Manet/Degas” examines the artistic relationship, sometimes friendly, at times adversarial, between Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas. Both were born in the 1830s, and their careers outlined the emergence of Paris as a modern metropolis, which they painted generously. Achievements are considered side by side, showing how their aim and approaches coincided and differed. This don’t-miss show features a first-time transatlantic loan from the Musée d’Orsay: Manet’s Olympia, the audacious painting of a bored, voluptuous courtesan, who stares dispassionately at the viewer. Through January 7, 2024.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York City

In the show “Life Cycles: The Materials of Contemporary Design” 40 designers consider the full life cycles of materials: extraction to recycling, reuse and disposal. The exhibition of 80 contemporary design works reveals the inventive ways in which designers take up the challenge of sustainability, from fashioning a chair from 3D printed recycled plastic to “collaborating” with animals to create art, such as a honeycomb vase made by bees. Through July 2024.

Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.

This season, there may be no more joyful show than “Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas.” Thomas’s paintings were made after her retirement from a long career as a schoolteacher. Her art, characterized by patterns—circles, abstract images—and vibrant, pulsating color, evolved throughout a remarkably productive 35 years. Through June 2, 2024.

Legion of Honor, San Francisco

Surprisingly, the exhibition “Botticelli Drawings” represents the first ever dedicated to the Old Master’s achievement as a draftsman. This comprehensive show traces Sandro Botticelli’s studies with Fra Filippo Lippi to the establishment of the artist’s atelier in Florence. Bringing together rarely seen and recently attributed works, including the preparatory drawing for The Adoration of the Magi, the expressive design reveals Botticelli’s experimental approach and assured technique—and the quest for beauty that characterized his frescoes and paintings. November 19, 2023–February 11, 2024.

Seattle Art Museum

The show “Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection” celebrates a major gift from Jon and Kim Shirley of works by Alexander Calder—mobiles, stabiles, standing mobiles, wire sculptures, works on paper—to the Seattle Art Museum. Nearly 50 key works highlight every decade of Calder’s career, from the 1920s to the 1970s, demonstrating the experimentation and innovation that characterized his creative genius. November 8, 2023–August 4, 2024.

Museo Jumex, Mexico City

Ten years ago, the Museo Jumex opened its doors in the Polanco area of Mexico City. The museum houses its collection of contemporary art, assembled by Eugenio López Alonso, in a striking four-story building designed by David Chipperfield. A travertine façade, distinctive sawtooth roof and broad lateral windows infuse much of the building with light. Correspondingly, this fall, the anniversary exhibition, “Everything Gets Lighter,” considers light, as subject and medium, in the work of 65 artists, from Gabriel Orozco to James Turrell. November 18, 2023–February 11, 2024.

Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

The sweeping retrospective “Mark Rothko” is the first in France dedicated to the American painter in more than 20 years. It brings together approximately 115 works from leading museums and private collections to trace the artist’s career from figurative paintings to abstract works characterized by rectangular shapes, saturated in yellow, red, ocher and blue, seemingly suspended within the canvas. The mesmerizing show is on display throughout the foundation’s spaces. October 18, 2023–April 2, 2024.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

It scarcely seems possible that in a little more than two months, Vincent van Gogh produced 74 paintings and 33 drawings. This burst of creativity is all the more striking because it took place during the final period of the artist’s short life, after he had endured crises in Arles and an asylum in Saint-Rémy, and moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris and his brother Theo. For the exhibition “Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise: The Final Months,” the museum has drawn together 40 paintings and 20 drawings, a ravishing survey of landscapes, portraits—including that of Dr. Paul Gachet—and still lifes. October 3, 2023– February 4, 2024.

Berlinische Galerie & Museum Barberini, Berlin & Potsdam

Few artists are identified as much by a single work as Edvard Munch is for The Scream. But the Norwegian painter’s work encompassed far more than images of existential angst. Two exhibitions in Berlin provide an abundant overview: “Magic of the North” at the Berlinische Galerie considers Munch’s stay in the German capital (between 1892 and 1908) and its influence. Eighty works, including landscapes and portraits, shift the perspective to the psychological underpinning of Munch’s visual worlds. “Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth” at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam reveals the artist’s deep fascination with nature, its self-renewing power and dynamism.

Edvard Munch. Magic of the North”: Through January 22, 2024.
Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth”: November 18, 2023–April 1, 2024.

Tate Modern, London

The advent of photography changed the course of painting decisively. The show “Capturing the Moment” (through January 28) variously explores the dynamic relationship between the two mediums through such works as Andy Warhol’s silk-screen prints, a painting by David Hockney inspired by the chance juxtaposition of two photographs or a photorealist work by Gerhard Richter. The exhibition “A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography” (through January 14) showcases the work of artists from different generations who employ film, audio and photography to reimagine the continent’s diverse cultures and complex histories, considering themes ranging from spirituality to climate emergency and its consequences.

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Remarkably, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, an Aboriginal Australian artist from the Northern Territory, did not begin to paint until age 78. In a period of approximately seven years, she produced an astonishing 3,000 pieces—brightly colored works that reflect the patterns and textures of the landscape in Alhalkere, where she was born and raised, north of Alice Springs. This entrancing major show at the National Gallery of Australia in the federal capital displays canvases from her brief and intensely productive career, and benefits from the expertise of First Nations curators from central Australia who know the artist’s family and the unique cultural context of her background. December 2, 2023–April 28, 2024.

Dance

New York City Ballet

NYCB celebrates its 75th anniversary throughout the 2023–24 season (fall, winter and spring) with landmark ballets by cofounders George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins and choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, Justin Peck and Peter Martins. The winter offers programs devoted to Balanchine (holiday favorite The Nutcracker and The Four Temperaments) and Robbins (Fancy Free), and premieres of ballets by Ratmansky and principal dancer Tiler Peck.

San Francisco Ballet

It may surprise some to learn the San Francisco Ballet is the oldest company in the country. This year, it celebrates its 90th anniversary with verve. Tamara Rojo, former principal dancer with English National Ballet and Royal Ballet, assumed the role of artistic director in late 2022, and the 2023–24 season reveals her dynamic stamp. Highlights include: Mere Mortals, a new work by Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton; renowned works from the English ballet tradition, Song of the Earth by Kenneth MacMillan and Marguerite and Armand by Frederick Ashton; the classic Swan Lake; and George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with exuberant costumes by Christian Lacroix. January–March 2024.

Music

(L-R)-Kevin-Burdette,-Jocelyn-Hansen,-Richard-Croft,-Andriana-Chuchman,-Ava-Jafari,-Lucas-Meachem,-Austin-Howarth,-Andrew-Bidlack,-Sasha-Cooke,-Deanna-Breiwick.photo_Kyle-Flubacker
Photo by Kyle Flubacker, courtesy Dallas Opera
Courtesy-LA-Philharmonic-
Courtesy L.A. Philharmonic
Concertgebouw
Grote Zaal at Concertgebouw. Photo by Hans Roggen, courtesy Concertgebouw

Los Angeles Philharmonic

When the Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, with acoustical engineers Yasuhisa Toyota and Minoru Nagata, opened 20 years ago on October 24 in downtown Los Angeles, it proved a game changer for the orchestra, the city, California and beyond. The hall’s curvaceous stainless-steel exterior gleamed silver, ushering audiences into an auditorium that put them close to the music-making. Throughout the 2023–24 season, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by music director Gustavo Dudamel, celebrates the hall’s 20th anniversary in grand style, coproducing the California Festival, a statewide showcase of new music with more than 50 partner organizations. Looking to the future, the orchestra will be mounting world premieres of 12 commissioned works from composers Gabriela Ortiz, Timo Andres and Veronika Krausas, among others. [Artistic partner and composer John Williams leads a two-year retrospective dedicated to the music of film at the Hollywood Bowl in summer, and at Disney Hall in fall 2024.]

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

In its 125-year history, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has been led by some of music’s eminent conductors. Louis Langrée, the orchestra’s 13th music director, exemplifies the standard. The 2023–24 season marks the conclusion of Langrée’s 11-season tenure and features a production of the rarely performed French grand opera Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas (November 17 and 19), a collaboration with Paris’s Opéra Comique. Langrée also leads Stravinsky’s The Firebird (May 10–12, 2024), a staging that includes puppetry created and directed by Janni Younge of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, as well as the world premiere of an orchestral song cycle by Anthony Davis, marking the conductor’s final performances.

The Dallas Opera

Based on the memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, the inspiring story of a journalist’s struggle after a life-altering stroke is transformed into an opera by composer Joby Talbot, set to a libretto by Gene Scheer. The Dallas Opera, which commissioned the work, presents the world premiere with a cast led by Lucas Meachem as Bauby, in a production directed by Leonard Foglia. November 3–11.

Metropolitan Opera, New York City

Amid a season of new productions of late-20th-century operas—Dead Man Walking, Florencia en el Amazonas, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X—the Metropolitan Opera also pays tribute to its storied past. In November, it revives Otto Schenk’s evocative 1977 production of Wagner’s German romantic opera Tannhäuser. An exceptional cast includes tenor Andreas Schager in the title role, with soprano Elza van den Heever, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova and baritone Christian Gerhaher, led by conductor Donald Runnicles. November 23–December 30.

Paris Opera

This November, the Paris Opera brings back its enchanting double bill, the ballet Mother Goose (Ma Mère l’Oye) and opera The Child and the Spells (L’Enfant et les Sortilèges), set to Maurice Ravel’s vivid music. With a libretto by Colette, the opera has a cast of characters that includes a dancing teapot and broken porcelain cup, a tree frog, a cat and an owl; they offer cautionary lessons to an unruly child. Students from the Paris Opera Ballet School imbue the five scenes and finale of Mother Goose with a special quality of sentiment and warmth. The double bill is at the Palais Garnier, whose frescoed ceiling by Marc Chagall bestows its own kind of magic. November 21–December 14.

Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

The Concertgebouw, one of the world’s most beautiful concert halls (and one renowned for exceptional acoustics), opened in 1888. It is home to three superb orchestras, led by a new generation of conducting talent. Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä is chief conductor designate of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Swiss conductor Lorenzo Viotti leads the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra; and American Karina Canellakis serves as chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Guest appearances by Europe’s leading orchestras, contemporary music, family programs, recitals by instrumentalists and chamber music—including performances by early-music groups such as Il Pomo d’Oro with countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński (November 19, 2023)—fill the season with more than 700 programs for music aficionados of every stripe.

Theater

New York City

Merrily We Roll Along

The fabled and initially unsuccessful Stephen Sondheim musical, with a book by George Furth, has found the production of its authors’ dreams with a sterling cast led by Daniel Radcliffe, Tony winner Lindsay Mendez, and musical theater leading man Jonathan Groff. The play is staged by Maria Friedman, a prominent interpreter of Sondheim works. Hudson Theatre; through March 24, 2024; thehudsonbroadway.com

Gutenberg! The Musical!

The hilarious surprise off-Broadway hit of 2008 finally arrives on Broadway in a stylish production directed by Alex Timbers, with Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells (stars of Book of Mormon). The story follows the travails of two clueless musical theater writers as they attempt to musicalize the life of Johannes Gutenberg. James Earl Jones Theatre; through January 28, 2024; gutenbergbway.com

A Prayer for the French Republic

First produced in 2022, Joshua Harmon’s acclaimed play receives its overdue transfer to Broadway in a production with Anthony Edwards and Betsy Aidem, staged by David Cromer. Spanning 70 years in the life of a Jewish family, it deals with anti-Semitism during the Second World War as well as the present day. The drama considers the sense of home and the effects of ancient enmity. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre; December 19, 2023–February 4, 2024; manhattantheatreclub.com

London

Dear England

Joseph Fiennes stars in this rousing drama by James Graham about the England soccer team in the 2017 World Cup. The National Theatre production transfers to the West End for a 14-week run, in a production designed by Es Devlin and directed by Rupert Goold. Prince Edward Theatre; October 9, 2023–January 13, 2024; dearenglandonstage.com

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

From the producers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and adapted from the Netflix series of the same name, the terrifying and mystifying drama premieres on the West End in a production staged by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, An Inspector Calls, The Crown). Phoenix Theatre, November 17, 2023–March 31, 2024; uk.strangerthingsonstage.com

The House of Bernarda Alba

Harriet Walter takes a star turn in Federico García Lorca’s drama at the National Theatre. Rebecca Frecknall, responsible for last year’s shattering A Streetcar Named Desire and the smash hit Cabaret, which starred Eddie Redmayne, directs this adaptation by Alice Birch. Lyttelton Theatre; November 16, 2023–January 6, 2024; nationaltheatre.org.uk

Backstairs Billy

Up-and-coming playwright Marcelo Dos Santos leaps into the West End with this offbeat comedy set during Thatcherite England about the Queen Mother, played by Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton, and her loyal servant Billy Tallon, played by the dashing Luke Evans. Michael Grandage is the director of this new play. Duke of York’s Theatre; October 27, 2023–January 27, 2024; thedukeofyorks.com

Infinite Life

Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker’s new play is a moving, frank study of illness and pain, variously endured by a group of patients, alongside desire and humor that marks the human condition. James Macdonald directs this rare co-production between New York’s Atlantic Theatre Company and London’s National Theatre. November 22, 2023–January 13, 2024; nationaltheatre.org.uk

Spotlight: A Countertenor’s High Note

In scarcely six years, the Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński has established himself on the world’s opera houses and concert stages. After studies in Warsaw and the Juilliard School in New York, Orliński made his international debut at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2017. Since then, he has toured widely with leading chamber ensembles, including the English Concert and Les Musiciens du Louvre, and appeared with the San Francisco Opera, Zurich Opera and Glyndebourne Festival. Orliński’s voice is notable for its color, sonority, and range. Above all, his singing is marked by a singularly expressive quality that draws audiences to the music and his music-making. He seems the most natural of performers, which may come about in part by his keen physical condition, a by-product of his interest in dance—and breakdancing in in particular. This season, Orliński tours with the ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro to Valencia (October 29), Paris (November 6), Lucerne (November 17), Amsterdam (November 19), Berlin (November 30), Versailles (December 4) and Turin (December 6).

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about our favorite itineraries in culture hubs around the world—this year and beyond.

– Mario R. Mercado on October 18, 2023

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