Fall Arts Preview: October 2015

Your exclusive guide to the season’s top cultural happenings.

By Matthew Reed Baker, Carly Carioli, Shaula Clark, Susanna Jackson, Kristofer Jenson, Maura Johnston, and Sean Maloney

boston cultural events october 2015

Photographs courtesy of Cory Weaver

Kansas City Choir Boy

Courtney Love has enjoyed a quarter-century reign as a diva—so, really, it was only a matter of time before she ended up in an opera. This fall, she costars in the avant-garde opera Kansas City Choir Boy, appearing on the Oberon stage alongside decorated playwright and songwriter Todd Almond. A murder mystery told in flashback, it’s described alternately as “a theatricalized concept album about love altered by unexpected fate” and “a love song for the computer age and a product of the 24-hour news cycle.”

October 1–10, Oberon, 617-547-8300, americanrepertorytheater.org/oberon.

A Far Cry

After the most disappointing summer of sports in recent memory, we’re more than ready for hockey season. Well, sure, the Bruins. But also local chamber music champs A Far Cry performing John Zorn’s early classic, “Hockey.” (Digression: Zorn himself shows up at the ICA later this fall with a new work; see our November preview.) The Zorn piece is part of “Vs.,” an “exploration of conflict in music that touches politics, war, and sports,” which might be the most fundamentally Boston musical presentation this side of the dude who sings “Dirty Water” too loud at Dunk’s.

October 1, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 617-566-1401, afarcry.org.

La Bohème

This Boston Lyric Opera season shines its spotlight on Paris, and the opening salvo is a reworking of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème set amid the 1968 student riots there. The production, which stars soprano Kelly Kaduce as Mimi and tenor Jesus Garcia as Rodolfo (a role he also played on Broadway), draws its revolutionary inspiration from the French New Wave and what BLO general and artistic director Esther Nelson calls “a mythological Paris, full of idealism and stark reality.”

October 2–11, Shubert Theatre, 617-542-6772, blo.org.


This year, we gave Honk!, Somerville’s annual “Festival of Activist Street Bands,” our award for Best Arts Festival. It’s also the loudest—both in its decibel level and its message of “brassroots revolution,” which has been so successful that Honk! has spread to New York, Seattle, and even Australia.

October 9-11, honkfest.org.

“Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer”

In the 1600s, Dutch Golden Age painters started representing more walks of life in their artwork than before. Princes, surgeons, bakers, and milkmaids collide in this upcoming MFA show, where curators tease out the nuances of the 17th- century Dutch pecking order from 75 select pieces, some making their U.S. debut.

October 11–January 18, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 617-267-9300, mfa.org.

Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler

The Boston Ballet’s 52nd season opens with a splash: the North American premiere of John Neumeier’s Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler, a meditation on the 19th-century Austrian composer’s work that’s been lauded by artistic director Mikko Nissinen as “a true feast for the senses.”

October 22–November 1, Boston Opera House, 617-695-6955, bostonballet.org.

Boston Book Festival

This year’s Boston Book Festival boasts more than 150 presenters, including poet, novelist, and essayist Margaret Atwood; Brigham and Women’s surgeon and author Atul Gawande; and Cambridge busker turned punk cabaret star Amanda Palmer, who’s about to add another role—new mom—to her résumé.

October 23–24, Copley Square, 617-945-9552, bostonbookfest.org.

Fall Arts Preview: September | October | November