As London prepares for the Olympics, the Cultural Olympiad is winding to a close. The four-year celebration pegged to the Games will culminate in the London 2012 Festival, which brings together theater, music, dance, art, design and literature from all 205 participating nations. Of the more than 1,000 events scheduled through September 9, here are some of the most noteworthy selections.
A (Long) Night at the Opera
It’s been 20 years since the last production of Einstein on the Beach, the opera that launched composer Philip Glass’s career; this revival marks its UK première. At five hours, the cerebral opera about the legendary physicist is a true modern epic. May 4–13; barbican.org.uk.
Lady of the Dance
Pioneering choreographer Pina Bausch, who died in 2009, is having a moment. First there was Wim Wenders’s recent Oscar-nominated 3-D documentary on her work, and now there’s a monthlong series of ten dances inspired by cities (like Istanbul, Santiago and L.A.) where she and her companies took up residence. June 6–July 9; barbican.org.uk.
Over six weeks, 37 international troupes will each perform one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays in their native tongue at the Globe Theatre: The Two Gentlemen of Verona from Zimbabwe; a Chinese Richard III; and the first full production of a Shakespeare play—Love’s Labour’s Lost—in British Sign Language. Through June 9; globetoglobe.shakespearesglobe.com.
Ono, Yes, Again
Though best known for her collaborations with John Lennon, Yoko Ono has her own substantial body of work. In her first public London exhibit in more than a decade, she’ll present installations, films and performances, including SMILE, an interactive collection of portraits submitted by grinning people from all over the world. June 19–September 9; serpentinegallery.org.
The Poetry Parnassus is expected to be the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK, with plans to showcase some 200 poets, including British laureate Carol Ann Duffy. June 26–July 1; southbankcentre.co.uk.
Swing for the Fences
Wynton Marsalis is this generation’s king of jazz, but he’s no stranger to swing, either, and has a symphony to prove it. His famed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will combine with the London Symphony Orchestra for the UK première of Swing Symphony. July 25–26; barbican.org.uk.
In the Mood for Mod
An exploration into the sweeping design changes since London last hosted the Olympics, in 1948, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “British Design: Innovation in the Modern Age, 1948–2012” features everything from the Swinging Sixties to the invention of the Concorde to the rise of punk. Through August 12; vam.ac.uk.
Hirst So Good
Damien Hirst’s spot paintings have been doing their share of globe-trotting, but their arrival at the Tate Modern marks the British artist’s first major UK exhibition. The show will also feature paintings from his spin, butterfly and fly series, along with several early sculptures and that shark in formaldehyde. Through September 9; tate.org.uk.