Fall is the season of musical new beginnings, and Seattle Opera’s fall production, Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment,” celebrates some artists who began their careers here in the company’s Young Artists program. Tenor Lawrence Brownlee, now the toast of Europe, and soprano Sarah Coburn, recently featured at the Vienna Staatsoper, will star as a frisky pair of youngsters who outwit their opponents and find true love. A likely show-stealer: Peter Kazaras as the formidable but comic Duchesse de Krakenthorp. The able Yves Abel will conduct (October 19-November 2).
2013-14 is also Seattle Opera’s 50th anniversary season, as well as the final season for general director Speight Jenkins before incoming director Aidan Lang picks up the company’s reins … so expect lots of commemorative events marking these occasions. (The company has a cool website devoted to the 50th, with photos and factoids and impressive sound clips.)
The mighty André Watts returns to the President’s Piano Series at Meany Theater to open that lineup with a November 7 program that will hit several bases: sonatas of Scarlatti and Mozart, Beethoven’s great “Appassionata” Sonata, Debussy’s colorful “Estampes,” and selections from Rachmaninoff’s huge-scaled “Etudes-Tableaux,” plus even a little Ligeti (excerpts from “Musica Ricercata”).
Seattle will get a brand-new chamber series when the inaugural concert of “Byron Schenkman and Friends” arrives on October 6th. The first of five concerts featuring the versatile Schenkman (who over the course of his career here has played the harpsichord, the fortepiano, and the modern piano), this one features Beethoven Piano Quartets with three string players. Schenkman will be joined by violinist Liza Zurlinden, violist Jason Fisher, and cellist Nathan Whittaker for this program, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall. (Subsequent fall-season programs include Bach Sonatas with violinist Ingrid Matthews on Nov. 24, and a festive evening of Vivaldi Concertos with a quintet of strings and winds on Dec. 29.
One of the world’s most highly regarded string quartets, the Emerson, will be back in Meany Theater on October 15, with one big change: it’s their first Seattle concert with new cellist Paul Watkins, who recently replaced original cellist David Finckel. (Finckel is increasingly busy on his own, with concert activity that includes chamber music with his wife, pianist Wu Han.) That’s the quartet’s first and only personnel change in 34 years, during which they have made 30 recordings, earned nine Grammy Awards and three Gramophone Awards, and won the Avery Fisher Prize. Their Seattle program includes quartets of Mozart and Mendelssohn, plus the great Shostakovich Piano Quintet – with University of Washington faculty pianist Craig Sheppard joining the ensemble.
Another string quartet, not quite so well known but still highly regarded, follows the Emersons into Meany Theater a month later, on November 19: the Modigliani Quartet, a younger Paris-based ensemble. They, too, are prizewinners (of the Frits Philips String Quartet competition, First Prize at the Vittorio Rimbotti Competition, and the Young Concert Artists auditions),
Stephen Stubbs’ dynamic Pacific MusicWorks kicks off its 2013-14 season with an attractive October 25 concert, “Welcome to All the Pleasures,” a program of English repertoire with five noteworthy singers as soloists: Teresa Wakim, Clara Rottsolk, Danielle Reutter-Harrah, Aaron Sheehan, and Douglas Williams. It starts at 8 p.m., in First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Ave.; looking ahead, mark your calendars for the great Bach “St. John Passion” March 1 and 2.