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Chopin's bicentennial, Boulez's birthday and more

The dominant theme in the 2010 musical performance landscape is the Frederic Chopin bicentennial. More than 2,000 worldwide events will honor the beloved Polish composer and his elegiac piano scores. Chopin festivals abound seemingly everywhere: London, Rome, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, New York, Miami, Tucson -- well, you get the landscape.

Look further and there's a lot of supreme stuff to experience in the coming year. Locally, the main event is Los Angeles Opera's "Ring Cycle" in May and June. And the Los Angeles Philharmonic heads out this spring for an eight-city tour -- highlighted by stops in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York -- to showcase the orchestra nationally for the first time under music director Gustavo Dudamel.

For those eager to travel the musical landscape elsewhere, consider this a bucket list, a go-and-do of highlights in the U.S. and around the world:

Chopin commemoration

Poland in general and Warsaw in particular are ground zero for their native son. Among the major events this year:

Feb. 11-March 7: Pianist Daniel Barenboim performs all-Chopin recitals, including programs with 9 to 11 pieces, throughout European cities, including a Feb. 28 performance at the National Hall in Warsaw. www.danielbarenboim.com

May 9: World Premiere of "Ballet Chopin," a two-act ballet choreographed by Patrice Bart for the national Polish Ballet, stresses music from Chopin and others. Teatr Wielki, Warsaw. www.teatrwielki.pl

Aug. 6-14: The 65th Chopin Festival takes place in the Polish resort town of Duszniki-Zdroj, Chopin's home for most of his creative life. The festival includes daily piano recitals. www.chopin.festival.pl

Oct. 18-23: The 16th annual Frederyk Chopin International Piano Competition's finals and then three concert recitals. Warsaw. www.konkurs.chopin.pl

Boulez birthday

One of contemporary music's formidable forces, French conductor and composer Pierre Boulez turns 85 in March. Though in generally good health, he suffered a fall in Japan that led to recent eye surgery and at present has performances at only three U.S. venues scheduled this year, all with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in Chicago, Michigan and New York. The Conductor Emeritus of the orchestra, with which he has a four-decade association, is leading programs with pieces by Stravinsky, Bartok, Ravel, Dalbavie and an important work from his own canon, 1968's "Livre pour cordes" ("Book for Strings").

Jan. 21-23: Orchestra Hall, Chicago. www.cso.org

Jan. 27: Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Mich. www.cso.org

Jan. 30-31: Carnegie Hall, New York. www.carnegiehall.org

Salonen two-fer

If you've ever needed an excuse to experience opera at La Scala or if you find yourself pining for ex-Los Angeles Philharmonic musical director Esa-Pekka Salonen, the two are converging in the best possible way.

The big draw this season at Milan's La Scala is the remounting of the most critically acclaimed staging in the U.S. last year, the production of Janacek's final opera, "From the House of the Dead." The Times' Mark Swed termed French director Patrice Chereau's November production at the Met an "uncompromising artistic triumph"; Swed also found Salonen's conducting in his Met debut "supple, powerful and warm."

Preceding this, Salonen will lead the La Scala Philharmonic in a program including Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite" and Stravinsky's complete ballet of "Firebird."

Feb. 22-24: Concerts at Teatro La Scala, Milan, Italy. www.teatroallascala.org/

Feb. 28, March 2, 5, 9, 13, 16: "From the House of the Dead." Teatro La Scala, Milan, Italy. www.teatroallascala.org/

Olympic Arts Festival

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Arts Festival features 189 events with more than 600 performances and runs from Jan. 22 through March 21.

Far and away, the most notable item on the calendar is Vancouver Opera's staging of a new production -- and Canadian premiere -- of John Adams’ "Nixon in China." Considered a seminal work of contemporary opera, it was the first major opera from Adams, currently the creative chair with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Conducting will be John DeMain, the piece's original conductor when it debuted in Houston in 1987. DeMain was the highly respected artistic director of Opera Pacific before the Orange County organization folded in late 2008, a victim of the financial meltdown.

This production precedes the local debut -- finally -- of the work at Long Beach Opera in March.

March 13, 16, 18, 20, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, Canada. www.vancouveropera.caorganization folded

Sondheim birthday

The New York Philharmonic celebrates Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday with a showcase concert featuring material from throughout the seminal songwriter's six decades. Among those taking part are Patty LuPone, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin and Nathan Gunn. The performances are being conducted by Paul Gemignani, who has conducted Sondheim material over the years for stage, concerts and on film.

March 15, 16: Avery Fisher Hall, New York. nyphil.orgorganization folded

Ritualized "Passion"

Each Easter, the Berlin Philharmonic heads south to Salzburg, Austria, for a 10-day stint that showcases opera and orchestral programs at the Salzburg Easter Festival. This year sees a heavyweight highlight with conductor Simon Rattle leading the orchestra in two performances of Bach's epic "St. Matthew Passion" in a world-premiere production being presented in a “ritualized” staging by director Peter Sellars. The following week, the production moves to Berlin for three more performances at the orchestra's home hall.

March 28, April 3: Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria. www.osterfestspiele-salzburg.at“ritualized” staging

April 9-11: Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall, Berlin. www.berliner-philharmoniker.de“ritualized” staging

Texan Ahab

Dallas Opera is rolling out a commissioned operatic world premiere based on Herman's Melville's "Moby Dick." The work has intriguing bloodlines, with music by composer Jake Heggie, who has three operas under his belt, notably "Dead Man Walking," It's his third pairing with librettist Gene Scheer, whose other highlights include the lyrics for "Thérèse Raquin" and "An American Tragedy." Dallas has lined up serious vocal firepower for the debut with a strong cast of male singers headed by heldentenor Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab. Patrick Summers is conducting, and staging is by Leonard Foglia, who has teamed with Heggie in the past.

The work is also a showpiece for the city’s new opera house that opened in October. Pritzker-prize winning architect Norman Foster's 2,200-seat hall is a reinterpretation of the traditional "horseshoe" opera house with retractable screens, a spacious fly-tower and variable acoustics.

April 30, May 2, 5, 8, 13, 16: Winspear Opera House, Dallas. www.dallasopera.orgcity’s new opera house

A Welsh Wagner

Operatic appearances by Bryn Terfel have been in short supply in recent years, so the announcement that the great baritone / bass will undertake Richard Wagner's sole and rarely staged comedy, "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg," for the first time is causing a stir in classical circles. The opera is being staged by the Wales National Opera, the company with which Terfel launched his career; WNO music director Lothar Koenig will conduct.

June 19, 26, 29, July 3: Donald Golden Theatre, in the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Wales. www.wmc.org.ukcity’s new opera house

calendar@latimes.com

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