Russian, Spanish, American . . .

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  September 11, 2008

The BOSTON PHILHARMONIC’s charismatic conductor Benjamin Zander turns 70, and he’s celebrating with concerts at Sanders Theatre and Jordan Hall, all including his celebrated lectures (October 15, 18, 19, with pianist George Li; November 20, 22, 23, with violinist Gilles Apap and oboist Peggy Pearson; 617.236.0999

BOSTON LYRIC OPERA begins its “Spellbound” season with Keith Lockhart conducting one of the most spellbinding operas of all, Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann; soprano Georgia Jarman makes her BLO debut singing all four bewitching heroines (Shubert Theatre; November 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18; 617.542.4912 For OPERA BOSTON, Gil Rose leads another spellbinder, Weber’s Der Freischütz (“The Marksman”), with its haunting Wolf’s Glen scene (Cutler Majestic Theatre; October 17, 19, 21; 617.451.3388 Richard Conrad’s the BOSTONIANS brings us Gilbert & Sullivan’s most touching operetta, The Yeomen of the Guard (Jordan Hall; November 30; 617.242.4015). And Richard Pittman’s BOSTON MUSICA VIVA stages three new mini-operas inspired by Boston statues (Tsai Center; October 3; 617.354.6910

BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL offers fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout leading the Collegium Vocale Gent singing rare Haydn (First Congregational Church in Cambridge; October 18; 617.661.1812; gambist Jordi Savall with Hespèrion XX1 in music from the time of Cervantes (Sanders Theatre; October 25); and the BEMF Orchestra in one-act chamber operas by Blow and Charpentier (Jordan Hall; November 29). Martin Pearlman’s period-instrument BOSTON BAROQUE presents a semi-staged version of Handel’s Xerxes, with remarkable male soprano Michael Maniaci (Jordan Hall; October 24-25; 617.484.9200 Donald Teeters begins Boston Cecilia’s 133rd season with Bach’s B-minor Mass, giving us our first chance to hear countertenor Jeffrey Gall in his new incarnation as a baritone (Jordan Hall; November 23; 617.232.4540 The HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY enters its 193rd season with programs dedicated to Handel led by Harry Christophers (Symphony Hall; October 3, 5), and Mozart and Beethoven led by Richard Egarr (Symphony Hall; November 7, 9; 617.262.1815

The ambitious four-day DITSON FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC has juicy concerts by leading new-music groups: Firebird Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva, Dinosaur Annex, Collage New Music, Callithumpian Consort, and Boston Modern Orchestra Project, plus a program with cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Geoffrey Burleson (Institute of Contemporary Art; September 18-21; 617.478.3103 And BOSTON SECESSION offers a rare chance to hear Alfred Schnittke’s powerful Requiem (First Congregational Church in Cambridge; November 15; 978.204.5836

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