Washington National Opera Performs Tosca at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House
To Sept. 24

WNO is reeling from the loss of celebrity director Plácido Domingo, who departed at the end of last season. So they’re starting this one in familiar territory. Puccini’s Tosca is a reliably awe-inspiring, tortured love story, which is why we’ve seen it so many times. They’re even bringing back Domingo for a limited-time conducting gig.

National Symphony Orchestra with Joshua Bell at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall
Sept. 25

Season openers are usually lavish, if glib, events. For its 80th, the NSO is pulling out no stops. Violinist-heartthrob Joshua Bell joins baritone Thomas Hampson for instrumental and choral performances of Dvorák, Bruch, Copland, and Ravel.

Louis Lortie at Library of Congress
Oct. 19

2011 is the year of Hungary, which will briefly enjoy the classical spotlight normally hogged by Germany and Austria with a couple birthday concerts honoring two of its favorite sons: Franz Liszt (his 200th) and Béla Bartók (his 130th). For Liszt’s bicentenary, pianist Louis Lortie (who is Canadian, not Hungarian) will perform his “Years of Pilgrimage” suites as part of LOC’s free concert series.

Budapest Festival Orchestra at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall
Oct. 26

The Washington Performing Arts Society arranged a more apt pairing of Bartók, the man who brought Eastern European peasant music to Parisian opera houses, and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, one of the world’s best. D.C. audiences will recognize BFO Iván Fischer, who filled in during the NSO’s gap year before Christoph Eschenbach.

The Ives Project at the Music Center at Strathmore
Nov. 3 to 5

Strathmore has an intriguing (and affordable!) program of “theatrical concerts” celebrating avant-garde American composer and insurance salesman Charles Ives. The three-day series opens with a set of readings and performances by pianist Jeremy Denk, baritone William Sharp, and the Post-Classical Ensemble as they explore Ives’ bold innovations in polytonality that left him a legend in death—and a total nobody in life.