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A 'Madame Butterfly' with puppets, a Mozart's Requiem with Nathalie

It’s opera premiere week in Philly — performance runs go up at Opera Philadelphia as well as AVA. Curtis isn’t far behind either, but they’ve got something else cool going on this week. There’s also interesting new music, Tempesta di Mare, and the Mozart Requiem. We’re spoiled for choice this week, friends (or at least you are, as I’m in the Mozart and therefore am booked for a lot of these, unfortunately).

Spotlight: Madame Butterfly — premieres Friday, Academy of Music

Puccini’s classic hits the Academy of Music stage this Friday to the delight of many a music lover — and also maybe the head-scratching of those who see certain traditional practices in classical music and opera as harmful to its survival. Which means that, since I count myself among that latter group and Madame Butterfly is at the top of my list this week, Opera Philadelphia must be doing something right. There will of course be Puccini's wonderful music — in order — and a stellar (and role-appropriate) cast. If you go, I also suggest you take a good look at the program notes by director Ethan Heard and production designer Yuki Izumihara. You’ll read about (and you may have seen) a puppet, designed by Philadelphia artist Hua Hua Zhang, that embodies Pinkerton’s — and perhaps Puccini’s, or at least the author of the source material’s — idea of Butterfly: a toy to be played with, an idealized yet myopic view of a real person deserving of her own agency and dignity. "Puccini trapped Butterfly in a beautiful score," writes Izumihara. Opera Philadelphia aims to set her free.

April 26 and May 3 at 8 p.m., April 28 and May 5 at 2 p.m., Academy of Music, 240 South Broad Street, $25-$299; tickets and information.

Curtis Composers — Tuesday, Curtis Institute of Music

Curtis Presents offers a concert of chamber works by composers who have studied at the storied institute. You certainly know at least a couple of the names — it would make for quite a long concert to have everyone represented, as they have plenty to pick from, but they’ll have familiar names like Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber, as well as works by living composer Jonathan Bailey Holland and a composer who would certainly still be a staple of the new music scene were he still living, Julius Eastman. Music by Ned Rorem and David Serkin Ludwig rounds out the program.

April 23 at 7:30 p.m., Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust Street, $27; tickets and information.

Rossini’s Il barbiere de Siviglia — premieres Thursday, Academy of Vocal Arts

The opera buffa of all opere buffe goes up this Thursday at the Academy of Vocal Arts. If you want to hear everyone, which is always worth it at AVA, you can pick two dates and go twice, as they’ve double-cast the show — you’ll know who’s singing on which dates by now if you’re on their email list. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, act fast, especially if you want to see it at AVA’s Helen Corning Warden Theater. (Fret not, though; there will also be performances in Bucks County, Haverford, and Bethlehem.)

For complete information, including showtimes, locations and prices, visit the AVA website.

Nathalie Stutzmann conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra at Verizon Hall
Jeff Fusco
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Nathalie Stutzmann conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra at Verizon Hall

Mozart’s Requiem — Friday through Sunday, Verizon Hall

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal guest conductor, Nathalie Stutzmann, is a renowned contralto, so the orchestra’s performances of Mozart’s Requiem will surely be that much more special as she leads the Orchestra and the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, along with a great quartet of soloists. As an added bonus, the concerts will open with Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 4. Technically, it's the second symphony he composed (written shortly after his first), but his edits to the work over the next ten years produced the version we usually hear today.

April 26 and 27 at 8 p.m., April 28 at 2 p.m.; Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street, $76-$199; tickets and information.

Muyassar Kurdi
Courtesy of the artist

Ghost Ensemble — Friday, University Lutheran

NYC new music specialists Ghost Ensemble bring a program to University Lutheran whose description reads like any “mind blown” meme you’ve seen on the internet in all the best ways. They’ll perform two works; the first, by ensemble founder Ben Richter, is called Rewild, which “offer[s] an aural metaphor for the interacting gradual processes of quantum and cosmic systems.” The second, Catherine Lamb’s interius/exterius, “investigat[es] how collective intentions or focal points allow various and sometimes unusual pathways to emerge.” Or rather, how new ideas form when we put our heads together.

April 26 at 8 p.m., University Lutheran, 3637 Chestnut Street, $12-$20; tickets and information.

Tempesta di Mare — Saturday at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, Sunday at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill

Isn’t it nice to have one of the world’s premier Baroque orchestras in your backyard? Their next shows are this weekend, featuring “four flavors of concerto” — two for recorder, one for violin, and one where most of the instruments get their turn to stand out. The latter is The Four Seasons of the Year, by Giovanni Antonio Guido, and there is indeed some argument as to whose came first, his or Vivaldi’s.

April 27 at 7:30 p.m., Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 23 South 38th Street; April 28 at 4 p.m., The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue; $35-$45 (students free with ID); tickets and information.

Peeking into May:

The Cunning Little Vixen — premieres May 2, Perelman Theater
Trio Gaia and Alexis Seminario — May 4, Black Squirrel Club
Ligeti Quartet — May 6, Solar Myth
Daughter of God: The Workshop — May 10, Curtis Institute of Music
Daphnis et Chloe — May 16-18, Verizon Hall
Moor Mother / Lea Bertucci & Henry Fraser — May 19, Solar Myth

John T.K. Scherch (JohnTK@wrti.org) shares the morning’s musical and other offerings weekdays on WRTI 90.1. Previously, he was the first new host on WBJC in Baltimore in nearly 20 years, hosting the evening, Sunday afternoon, and request programs, and he is also an alumnus of U92, the college radio station of West Virginia University and a consecutive national Station of the Year winner.