Fall's best in classical music

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Opera Philadelphia will present the world premiere of "Breaking the Waves."

It's a grand year for singing in Philadelphia.

Besides an unusually starry lineup of vocal recitals from the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Opera Company of Philadelphia has a potentially distinguished cast of Turandot headed by Christine Goerke and Joyce El-Khoury. And might its premiere production of Breaking the Waves yield a signature role for its stage-savvy star, Kiera Duffy?

Piffaro's The Musical World of Don Quixote concerts feature the excellent early-music group New York Polyphony, and the Delius Society celebrates its 40th anniversary by collaborating with Choral Arts on the rarely heard Delius Requiem.

In the larger world, British conductor Simon Rattle and Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho are making significant residencies on the East Coast that will leave a mark on Philadelphia. Between performances at the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Tristan und Isolde, Rattle will conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 6.

Meanwhile, Saariaho's ethereal opera L'Amour de Loin opens in a new production at the Metropolitan Opera, but before all of that, the composer spends a week at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Here is what else is in store:

Breaking the Waves (Sept. 22-Oct. 1, Opera Philadelphia, Perelman Theater). The world premiere of this newest work by composer and local native Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek is a high-anticipation event, if only because Mazzoli is one of America's more fascinating compositional personalities - and the subject matter is about sex and violence in small-town Scotland, based on the Lars von Trier film. (Broad and Spruce Streets, $29-$159, 215-732-8400, www.operaphila.org). - David Patrick Stearns

Bowerbird (Sept. 23 and 30, and Oct. 2 and 16, the Sanctuary of the Rotunda). "Composing the Tinnitus Suites: 2016" is a four-concert project that comes out of composer Daniel Fishkin's diagnosis of hearing damage, and his attempts to work with it as a creative artist. Each concert has different collaborators as well as an instrument known as "the lady's harp," consisting of 20-foot-long piano wires with electronic manipulation. (4014 Walnut St., free admission, 267-231-9813, www.bowerbird.org- D.P.S.

André Previn's Double Concerto (Sept. 23, Delaware Symphony Orchestra). The ghosts of Prokofiev, Strauss, and Poulenc commingle with jazz in Previn's friendly work. Violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson perform the 2014 piece with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, which will present Previn with its A.I. duPont Composer's Award (which comes with $5,000) at this season's opening concert. Music director David Amado counterbalances amity with spiritual journey: Mahler's Symphony No. 5. (Grand Opera House, 818 Market St., Wilmington, $14-$75, 302-656-7442, www.delawaresymphony.org- Peter Dobrin

Macbeth (Sept. 24-25, Opera Philadelphia and FringeArts). Shakespeare wrote the play, Francesco Maria Piave the text, Giuseppe Verdi the score. And now Fabrizio Cassol has rewritten the music for 12 instrumentalists and 10 singers, and South African performance troupe Third World Bunfight has moved the action to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A Sept. 23 dress rehearsal of the 100-minute intermissionless piece is also being opened up to audiences. (Prince Theater, Chestnut Street just west of Broad, $48, 215-732-8400, www.operaphila.org- P.D.

Opera on the Mall (Oct. 1, Independence Mall). Now in its sixth year, this outdoor opera event broadcasts opera from the Academy of Music to a giant screen on the urban grassy plain between Market and Chestnut Streets. When the weather is fine, the pleasures multiply. In rain, reaching the double bars at opera's end feels like an accomplishment. This year, it's Turandot, with Goerke in the title role. (Independence Mall, Market Street at Sixth, free but tickets required, 215-732-8400, www.operaphila.org- P.D.

Philadelphia Orchestra (Oct. 6, Kimmel Center). Conductor Rattle returns for the Mahler Symphony No. 6, one night only. Enough said. (Broad and Spruce Streets, $45/$152, 215-893-1999, www.philorch.org.- D.P.S.

Piffaro (Oct. 8-9, Episcopal Cathedral). Considering how much this Renaissance wind band has explored music of the Spanish Renaissance, it's surprising that its Musical World of Don Quixote concert didn't happen sooner. With related exhibits at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rosenbach Museum and Library, and the Free Library of Philadelphia (among others). (38th and Chestnut Streets, $29-$49, 215-235-8469, www.piffaro.org- D.P.S.

Curtis Orchestra and Opera (Oct. 9, Verizon Hall). The orchestra and opera departments of the Curtis Institute of Music come together for Ravel's one-act opera L'enfant et les sortilèges, led by Opera Philadelphia music director Corrado Rovaris in a program that also includes the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Conducting fellow Conner Gray Covington takes on Boulez's Notations. (Verizon Hall, Broad and Spruce Streets, $5-$50, 215-893-7902, www.curtis.edu- P.D.

Magdalena Kožená (Oct. 13, Perelman Theater). The Czech-born mezzo-soprano (a.k.a. Mrs. Simon Rattle) is one of the more fearless song-and-opera artists out there, a mid-weight voice attached to keen musical intelligence. The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert includes Dvorák, Strauss, and Fauré, plus Schoenberg's Brettl-Lieder and selections from Wolf's great Mörike songs (Broad and Spruce Streets, $25, 215-569-8080, www.pcmsconcerts.org- D.P.S.

Astral Artists National Audition Winners (Oct. 26, Perelman Theater). For the first time, Astral Artists takes all its new audition winners and puts them on a single concert it aims to make an annual event. The program isn't set, but Astral will no doubt come up with smart repertoire that mixes and matches three pianists, two violinists, a harpist, and one string quartet. (Kimmel Center, Broad and Spruce Streets, $35/$185, 215-893-1999, www.astralartists.org- P.D.

Orchestra 2001 (Oct. 28 at Center for Architecture and Design; Oct. 29 at Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College). This venerable new-music ensemble begins a new era under recently appointed artistic director and conductor Jayce Ogren with a program titled Body Music - pieces by Derek Bermel, Sebastian Currier, and Joan Tower inspired by movement of various sorts. The linchpin promises to be the John Adams Son of Chamber Symphony, which is nobody's junior. (1218 Arch St. and Swarthmore College. Center for Architecture and Design concert: $25-$35; Swarthmore concert: free, 267-687-6243, www.orchestra2001.org- D.P.S.

Kaija Saariaho (Oct. 30, Curtis Institute of Music). The esteemed Finish composer hears her week as composer-in-residence at the school capped with a program by violinist Jennifer Koh and the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble in, what else?, an all-Saariaho program. (Gould Rehearsal Hall, 1616 Locust St., free, 215-893-7902, www.curtis.edu- P.D.

The Crossing (Oct. 30, Barnes Foundation). John Luther Adams - the one from Alaska, as opposed to the John Adams in California - will be heard in his 2013 Canticles of the Holy Wind, a 75-minute work co-commissioned by the Crossing. The performance should be doubly good because the choir is revisiting the piece - and in a concert with an out-of-town tryout Oct. 29 at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. How's that for a switch? (Barnes Foundation, 2025 Ben Franklin Pkwy., $25-$35, 267-872-6235, www.crossingchoir.com). - D.P.S.

Christian Zacharias (Nov. 1, Perelman Theater). The program assembled by the German pianist promises to make connections in a line from Schubert and Beethoven sonatas to Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze. Zacharias' artistic temperament is at once capricious, individualistic, and sometimes perplexing, which promises to make this a program of major statements. (Perelman Theater, Broad and Spruce Streets, $25, 215-569-8080, www.pcmsconcerts.org- P.D.

Academy of Vocal Arts (Nov. 5-15). If you've never felt cold-sweat terror during Rigoletto, then you've never heard it conducted by Christofer Macatsoris, AVA's guru and seeker of all that's demonic in opera. The production is also directed by Tito Capobianco with a cast of young artists you discover when you walk in the door. (1920 Spruce St., $60-$65, 215-735-1685, www.avaopera.org- D.P.S.

Bernarda Fink (Nov. 11, Perelman Theater). Few singers exude humanity as much as mezzo-soprano Fink, who returns to Philadelphia with songs by Schumann and Wolf, but who devotes the second half of her program to music from her Slovenian and Argentinian heritage. You kind of know what to expect from Ginastera's Cinco Canciones Popolares Argentinas, Op. 10. But composers such as Škerjanc and Guastavino are likely to be sociological experiences. (Broad and Spruce Streets, $25, 215-569-8080, www.pcmsconcerts.org- D.P.S.

The Story of Babar (Nov. 13, Curtis Institute of Music). Poulenc's score conveys a great deal of emotion and imagery with the most economical of gestures, and here receives a new treatment in an arrangement by local trumpeter Darin Kelly for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello, and, of course, narrator. The music is augmented by dancers and visuals in an experience aimed at families. (Gould Rehearsal Hall, 1616 Locust St., $10 for adults, children under 12 free, 215-893-7902, www.curtis.edu- P.D.

Choral Arts Core Singers and the Delius Society (Nov. 13, German Society of Philadelphia). Subtitled "To all young artists fallen in the war," the 1916 Delius Requiem is a precursor to Britten's War Requiem, departing from the traditional Latin text with writings of writers such as Nietzsche. Also featured are Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs, conducted by Matthew Glandorf. (611 Spring Garden St., $20, 215-968-5979, thompsonian.info/delphila.html- D.P.S.

Michael Hersch (Nov. 20, Crane Arts). Though Zwischen Leben und Tod is ostensibly a searingly introspective work for violin and piano, Philadelphia composer Hersch believes a key element is the music's counterpoint with paintings, some rarely seen, by writer/artist Peter Weiss (1916-82). They are likely to be seen in superior slide-projected splendor at well-equipped Crane Arts. (Icebox at Crane Arts, 1400 N. American St. 215-232-3203 or www.cranearts.com- D.P.S.

The Brothers McGill (Dec. 13, American Philosophical Society). Two brothers who trained at the Curtis Institute of Music landed coveted spots - Demarre McGill as principal flutist of the Dallas Symphony, and clarinetist Anthony McGill as principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic. In this Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert, they team up with pianist Michael McHale in a program of Poulenc sonatas for their respective instruments (clarinet: dreamy and reflective; flute: sleek and sweetly impetuous), plus works by Villa-Lobos, Schubert, and others. (Benjamin Franklin Hall, 427 Chestnut St., $25, 215-569-8080, www.pcmsconcerts.org- P.D.