The Bay Area's summer classical scene is busy and varied, as always. Got your date books? Your Google calendars? Your cross-indexes? Here we go: San Francisco Symphony. In the 1960s, Michael Tilson Thomas was mentored by two giants of 20th century music: Igor Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein. In the coming weeks at Davies Symphony Hall, Tilson Thomas explores the worlds of both those geniuses. To celebrate the centenary of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," he leads the orchestra in two programs (June 19-22) centered on that paradigm-shaking work, which practically incited class warfare at its May 29, 1913, premiere in Paris. The programs pair "Rite" with later Stravinsky works and also will feature the Dmitri
Pokrovsky Ensemble, performing some of the traditional Russian folk music that inspired the raw, ecstatic frenzy of the "Rite." Tickets: $15-$150; 415-864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org. Then comes "West Side Story" (June 27-July 2), in which Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim moved "Romeo and Juliet" to the streets of New York. These performances mark the first time an orchestra has performed the complete musical in its concert version. Five Broadway singers, including Cheyenne Jackson (television's "Glee" and "30 Rock") will put across the famous tunes. Tickets: $34-$160. San Francisco Opera. The company stages the world premiere of composer Mark Adamo's "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene" (June 19-July 7). Commissioned by SFO, it imagines the relationship between Jesus and his famous disciple, drawing on the Canonical Gospels and recent research into (and perhaps some speculation regarding) the beginnings of Christianity. The remarkable mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke sings the title role opposite baritone Nathan Gunn, as Yeshua (Jesus). Also at War Memorial Opera House, the company offers Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" (June 5-July 6), starring marvy soprano Natalie Dessay and tenor Matthew Polenzani. Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" completes the summer season (June 9-July 1). Tickets: $22-$340; 415-864-3330, www.sfopera.com. Music@Menlo. In its 11th season, the chamber music festival (July 18-Aug, 10) is an annual pleasure. Get your tickets; with its thoughtful programming and deep roster of international talent, good seats get snapped up. This year's festival is titled "From Bach": each program begins with a work by J.S. Bach, the idea being that whatever follows -- whether it's Haydn, Shostakovich, Debussy or Reich -- will be heard with that much more vividness. Co-artistic directors Wu Han and David Finckel have arranged for many favorite players to return (i.e., pianist Jeffrey Kahane, cellist Colin Carr, violinist Jorja Fleezanis). The debuts of important young talents include the Danish String Quartet, which is earning raves for its crisp, vital performances. Based at the Menlo School in Atherton, the festival includes lectures and a series of free concerts by the exceptional students. Single tickets: $40-$77, $20-$35 ages 29 and younger; 650-331-0202, www.musicatmenlo.org. Ojai North. Southern California's cutting-edge Ojai Music Festival has a Berkeley-based offshoot, co-presented by Cal Performances. Excitement rules: Choreographer Mark Morris is artistic director for all 10 programs (June 12-15). They include his treatment of "The Rite of Spring," a world premiere, featuring the Mark Morris Dance Group with The Bad Plus, an incisive trio, playing its own arrangement of Stravinsky's masterpiece. Tickets: $20-$110; 510-642-9988, www.calperformances.org. Still more contemporary sounds: Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Festival returns (Aug. 2-11) for its 51st season, led by conductor Marin Alsop. She guides world premieres (including one by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Kevin Puts), U.S. premieres (including one by Philip Glass) and West Coast premieres (by Christopher Rouse and George Walker). Tickets: $30-$52; 831-420-5260 and www.cabrillomusic.org. (Online and box office sales start June 18).
The Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble will be featured in the San Francisco Symphony's centenary celebration of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring. Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble photo.
(Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble)
Midsummer Mozart Festival. It opens its 39th season under founder and music director George Cleve, whose festival orchestra is finely attuned to its leader -- and to Mozart. The first program (July 18-21) features superb soprano Rebecca Davis and teen pianist Audrey Vardanega, whose mature performances have impressed past Midsummer audiences. The second program (July 25-28) showcases violinist Mayuko Kamio, winner of the 2007 International Tchaikovsky Competition. Performances will be held in Santa Clara (Mission Santa Clara), Berkeley (First Congregational Church), Sonoma (Gundlach Bundschu Winery) and San Francisco (Florence Gould Theater, Legion of Honor). Tickets: $20-$65; 1-800-838-3006, extension 1, www.midsummermozart.org.
Sascha Cooke sings the role of Mary Magdalene in San Francisco Opera's world premiere of "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene" by Mark Adamo. J. Henry Fair/San Francisco Opera.
(J Henry Fair)
Contact Richard Scheinin at 408-920-5069, read his stories and reviews at www.mercurynews.com/richard-scheinin and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/richardscheinin