Never mind the “fiscal cliff,” here’s what’s at the top of the mountainous schedule of music and arts events in store for Washingtonians and visitors this spring. It’s a selective look that only skims the surface of a rich and crowded program:
Returning from a quick dash to Spain, France and Dubai in February, the National Symphony will tackle a packed program of Kennedy Center concerts. (Tickets and information: 800/444-1324 or 202/467-4600.)
• April 4 — Pianist Emanuel Ax plays Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F — which is really No. 1, but never mind the numbers mix-up, just enjoy the music. Hugh Wolff conducts.
• May 2 — Cellist Alisa Weitersten plays Edward Elgar’s brooding Cello Concerto in F minor, with the NSO’s own Christoph Eschenbach conducting.
• May 4 — “The Tale of Teddy and the Ten Hats” is one of the NSO’s Teddy Bear concerts for children of all ages — but especially those 3 to 5 years old. In this concert, NSO musicians Aaron Goldman (flute), William Weiglus (oboe) and Janet Frank (cello) spin a story about a teddy bear with a collection of hats. Kids can bring their favorite stuffed animal to these interactive, 45-minute programs.
Washington National Opera
• March 2 — In her role debut, Washington favorite Patricia Racette returns to the WNO in “Manon Lescaut,” the first of Giacomo Puccini’s tragic heroines, with performances through March 23. (Tickets and information: 800/444-1324 or 202/467-4600.)
• March 9 — “Asterix” it isn’t, but Vincenzo Bellini’s masterpiece “Norma” has the same historical setting of Roman-occupied Gaul. Angela Meade sings the title role. Performances through March 29.
• May 4 — Jerome Kern’s “Showboat” is offered in a production created by the WNO’s newly appointed artistic director Francesca Zambello. Performances through May 26.
• June 8 — In “The Tao of Muhammad Ali (A Ghost Story),” a one-hour opera by D.J. Sparr and Davis Miller commissioned by the WNO, a reporter meets boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Repeated on June 9.
National Gallery of Art
• Feb. 17 — “Pre-Raphaelite Victorian Art and Design, 1848-1900.” Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and other English artists and designers liberate themselves from the embrace of Victorian propriety. This is the first major pre-Raphaelite retrospective in the United States. Closes May 19. (Information: 202/737-4215, www.nga.gov.)
• March 24 — “Albrecht Durer, Master Drawings, Watercolors and Prints from the Albertina.” This exhibition is something of a coup for the National Gallery because the Albertina in Vienna does not normally lend its precious collection of watercolors by the great German master. Until June 9.
• Feb. 9 — “Angels, Demons and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet.” The exhibit brings together works by Jackson Pollock, Alfonso Ossorio and Jean Dubuffet to create a visual dialogue among the three artists. Closes May 12. (Information: 202/387-3151, www.phillipscollection.org.)
• Feb. 21 — In the Leading European Composers performance series, Finnish composer Kaija Saaraho presents her own compositions, a combination of live musicians and electronics.
Folger Theater and Library
• Jan. 30 — Shakespeare’s “Henry V” will be directed by Robert Richmond with Zach Appelman (“War Horse” on Broadway) as King Henry. Closes March 3. Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” will follow from March 30 to June 9. (Information: 202/675 0342, www.folger.edu.)
• March 28 — “Wallenstein,” Friedrich Schiller’s German classic about a general wrestling with his inner demons in the 17th-century religious European conflict, the Thirty Years War, is directed by the theater company’s director Michael Khan. Closes June 2. (Tickets and information: 202/547-1122, email@example.com.)
• March 28 — Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus.” Run ends June 2.
• May 9 — “The Winter’s Tale,” directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman, is Shakespeare’s story of a king who arrests his wife in a fit of jealous rage and spends the rest of life regretting it. Run ends June 23.
• March 15 — “Mary T. & Lizzie K.” is Tazewell Thompson’s play written as part of the Arena Stage’s program of encouraging new American playwriting. The piece centers on the relationship between presidential widow Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Lizzie Keckley, a freed slave. Run ends April 28. (Tickets and information: 202/488-3300, http://tickets.arenastage.org.)
• Feb. 1 — “Good People” by David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”), an off-Broadway success, will run until March 10. A woman in need of financial help tries to rekindle an old flame with a wealthy former lover.
Gala Hispanic Theatre
• March 18 — “Los aventuras de Don Quijote de La Mancha” is Patricia Suarez’s bilingual presentation — but the title needs no translation. Closes March 30. (Tickets and information: 202/234-7174, firstname.lastname@example.org.)