NYC Events,”Only the Best” (12/13) + Museum Special Exhibitions: Manhattan’s 5th Avenue

“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.” We make it as easy as 1-2-3.

For future NYC Events, check the tab above:  NYC Events-December”
It’s the most comprehensive list of top events this month that you will find anywhere.
Carefully curated from “Only the Best” NYC event info on the the web, it’s a simply superb resource that will help you plan your NYC visit all over town, all through the month.

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Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

La Bohème  (last performance)
The Metropolitan Opera
Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Opera House / 8PM, $30+
“Puccini’s timeless masterpiece of love and loss features two casts of young stars. Sopranos Nicole Car (in her highly anticipated Met debut) and Ailyn Pérez share the role of the ill-fated Mimì, opposite tenors Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano as the ardent poet Rodolfo. After a celebrated Met debut as Mimì in 2017, Angel Blue returns as the spitfire Musetta, and Etienne Dupuis and Lucas Meachem appear as Marcello. James Gaffigan conducts.”

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> Cyrus Chestnut Trio
>> LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO 
>> Handel’s “Messiah”
>> Kenny Barron Quintet 
>> Ikue Mori
>> ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER
>> Handel’s Messiah
Continuing Events
>> Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
>> New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker”
>> Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

Cyrus Chestnut Trio (Dec.13-16)
Smoke Jazz Club / 7, 9, 10:30PM, $40
“Although his most recent album, “Kaleidoscope,” finds Cyrus Chestnut reconfiguring compositions by Erik Satie and Deep Purple, it’s safe to say that this mainstay pianist—a passionate stylist who is deeply informed by the spirit of gospel music—will dip into a roomier jazz repertoire at this engagement. He’s joined by the album’s rhythm team: Eric Wheeler on bass and Chris Beck on drums.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO  (through Dec. 30).
at the Joyce Theater / 8 p.m, $45+
“This all-male troupe, dancing in point shoes and drag, has been honoring and skewering ballet since 1974. Now the formidable fellas in tutus return to the Joyce for a nearly three-week engagement with two programs. Program A includes their slapstick version of “Swan Lake, Act II” paired with a cheeky take on the 19th-century Petipa ballet “The Little Humpbacked Horse.” Program B features “ChopEniana,” a wink at Fokine, and “Stars and Stripes Forever,” an air kiss to Balanchine, set to the music of John Philip Sousa. Sure, it’s silly, but the dancing is impressively skillful, too.” (NYT-Brian Schaefer)

Handel’s “Messiah”  (also Dec.14,16,17)
Trinity Church / 7:30PM, all performances sold out, waitlist (note this one for next year)
The performance on Sunday, December 16, will be live streamed on our website and available on Facebook live. Visit trinitywallstreet.org or the live Facebook event at 3pm ET to watch.

“If you grew up thinking of Handel’s “Messiah” as a sweet, staid pageant, a holiday ritual involving a little nap and a stand-and-deliver “Hallelujah” chorus, the forces of Trinity Wall Street offer the gritty, fearless cure, from Dec. 13-17, with what stands apart as New York’s best.

In our survey of the city’s many versions of Handel’s masterpiece last year, my colleagues called Trinity Wall Street’s “perhaps the essential New York ‘Messiah,’” and they weren’t wrong. Julian Wachner conducts the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street in a reading that has been fiercely dramatic in music that can too often be treated as a comfy part of the festive scenery.” (NYT)

Kenny Barron Quintet  Dec.12-16)
Village Vanguard / 8:30PM, +10:30PM, $35
“Any gig featuring veteran pianist, bandleader and composer Barron is positively guaranteed to reach the heights of suavity and improvisational fire. This year’s excellent Concentric Circles featured Barron’s quintet in top-notch form. Expect no less than professionalism here.” (TONY)

Ikue Mori (Dec.11-15)
at the Stone, 55 W. 13th St. / 8:30PM, $20
“It’s hard to imagine New York’s experimental music scene—with its fertile mashup of avant rock, jazz, and new music—without the remarkable contributions of the percussionist and electronics visionary Ikue Mori. This residency finds her joining forces with her fellow sonic adventurers Mary Halvorson and Satoko Fujii as well as the luminaries John Zorn and Craig Taborn.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER (through Dec. 30).
at New York City Center / 7:30PM, $30+
“In 1958, a small group of African-American dancers performed at the 92Y, and now, six decades later, that company is one of the largest and most popular modern dance troupes in the country. Still to come this season are works by Ronald K. Brown, Jessica Lang and a new two-act creation by the hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris called “Lazarus,” inspired by Ailey’s life.” (NYT-Brian Schaefer)
    See a Sugar Plum-free ballet
“Skip The Nutcracker and its derivatives and catch the premiere weekend of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Lazarus, instead. Hip-hop master Rennie Harris is the brains behind this two-act ballet, which addresses the racial inequality Ailey faced when he founded his dance company in 1958 — inequality that continues to plague America 60 years later.” (Thrillist)

Handel’s Messiah (Dec.11-15)
New York Philharmonic
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center / 7:30PM, $34+
“Presented by Gary W. Parr The Messiah of all Messiahs! The New York Philharmonic’s Messiah is the must-see, must-hear holiday event. Every bar of Handel’s greatest masterpiece — whether upon first encounter or at a yearly ritual — speaks to us with passion, beauty, spirituality, and joy. Dazzling solos, instrumental fireworks, and the most glorious choral writing of all time never fail to thrill.”

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Smart Stuff / Other NYC Events
(Lectures/Discussions, Book Talks, Film, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)

More Smart Stuff coming soon.

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Continuing Events

So much going on in this town over the holidays. Too many events & performances to list here. For a much fuller list, expanding every day, check out the tab above: “Holidays.”

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Midtown Manhattan’s winter wonderland.
Bryant Park (btw 5th/6th Ave. @42nd St.) / shops to 8PM, rink to 10PM
Enjoy the Holiday Shops, The Lodge by Urbanspace, and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
The Holiday Shops are open through January 2, 2019.

The Rink
This 17,000 square foot rink features free admission ice skating, high quality rental skates, and free skating shows, special events, and activities.
​October 27, 2018 – March 3, 2019
Daily, 8am-10pm (Rink hours are weather permitting and Rink may be closed for events – check here)
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New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker” (Through Dec. 30)
NYS Theater, Lincoln Center / various times, $40

“New York City Ballet continues performances of its acclaimed 1954 production that would melt the Scroogiest of hearts. The elaborate staging includes a one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a 12 feet to 41 feet and an 85-pound, nine-feet wide Mother Ginger. The ballet highlights dozens of talented and adorable children from the School of American Ballet, but the star of the show isn’t just one dancer but a bevy of Snowflakes. Their waltz — full of beauty and daring — will take your breath away. ” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)
212-496-0600, nycballet.com

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Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes  (Nov.09- Jan.01)
Radio City Music Hall / various times, $46+
“There’s more great precision dancing than ever in the show’s current edition, which was revamped in 2007 and tweaked again this year. Glamorously outfitted in a series of eye-popping costumes, the Rockettes perform on a double-decker bus, a sparkly staircase and a snowy forest and enact a lightning-fast version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Not to worry: They’re still doing the classic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” number, too. Each scene is enhanced by video backdrops displayed on one of the world’s largest LED screens.”

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Bonus NYC events– Jazz Clubs:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. My favorite Jazz Clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide, feature top talent every night of the week.
Hit the Hot Link and check out who is playing tonight:

Greenwich Village:
(5 are underground, classic jazz joints. all 6 are within walking distance of each other):
Village Vanguard – UG, 178 7th Ave. So., villagevanguard.com, 212-255-4037 (1st 8:30)
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave. bluenotejazz.com, 212-475-8592 (1st set 8pm)
55 Bar – basement @55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave.S. 55bar.com, 212-929-9883 (1st 7pm)
Mezzrow – basement @ 163 W10th St. nr 7th Ave. mezzrow.com,646-476-4346 (1st 8)
Smalls – basement @ 183 W10th St. smallslive.com, 646-476-4346 (1st set 7:30pm)
Cornelia Street Cafe – UG, 29 Cornelia St. corneliastreetcafe.com, 212-989-9319 (6pm)

Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595 (1st set 7:30pm)
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080 (1st 8:30pm)
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com/ 212-864-6662 (7pm)

For a comprehensive list of the best places to hear All Types of Live Music in Manhattan see the tab above “LiveMusic.”

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. — caffevivaldi.com / 212-691-7538 (1st 7pm)
a classic, old jazz club in the Village, Caffe V often surprises with a wonderfully eclectic lineup. It’s my favorite spot for an evening of listening enjoyment and discovery.

Alas, Caffe V is no more, another victim of a rapacious NYC landlord. Owner Ishrat fought the good fight and Caffe V will be sorely missed.

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NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):

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WHAT’S ON VIEW
These are My Fave Special Exhibitions @ MUSEUMS / Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue
(See the New York Times Arts Section for listings of all museum exhibitions,
and also see the expanded reviews of these exhibitions)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Hilma af Klint : Paintings for the Future (thru 02/03/19)

“Convinced that the world was not ready for her artistry in 1906, particularly as an underrepresented female in her field, af Klint of Sweden kept her work private. Her paintings anticipated by years “breakthroughs” by Kandinsky, Mondrian and others and were unseen before 1986. The Guggenheim rediscovers her.”

“Recognized as one of the art world’s earliest abstract painters, Hilma af Klint was a steadfast believer that her work was inspired by the spiritual. The new Guggenheim exhibition, “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future,” showcases the work of this groundbreaking Swedish artist (1862-1944), whose work was rarely seen until the 1980s.” (Newsday)

Jewish Museum

‘CHAGALL, LISSITZKY, MALEVICH: THE RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE IN VITEBSK, 1918-1922’ (through Jan. 6). This crisp and enlightening exhibition, slimmed but not diminished from its initial outing at Paris’s Centre Pompidou, restages the instruction, debates and utopian dreaming at the most progressive art school in revolutionary Russia. Marc Chagall encouraged stylistic diversity at the short-lived People’s Art School in his native Vitebsk (today in the republic of Belarus), and while his dreamlike paintings of smiling workers and flying goats had their defenders, the students came to favor the abstract dynamism of two other professors: Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky, whose black and red squares offered a radical new vision for a new society. Both the romantics and the iconoclasts would eventually fall out of favor in the Soviet Union, and the People’s Art School would close in just a few years — but this exhibition captures the glorious conviction, too rare today, that art must serve the people. (NYT-Farago)

‘SCENES FROM THE COLLECTION’  “After a surgical renovation to its grand pile on Fifth Avenue, the Jewish Museum has reopened its third-floor galleries with a rethought and refreshed display of its permanent collection, which intermingles modern and contemporary art, by Jews and gentiles alike — Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, and the excellent young Nigerian draftswoman Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze — with 4,000 years of Judaica. The works are shown in a nimble, non-chronological suite of galleries, and some of its century-spanning juxtapositions are bracing; others feel reductive, even dilletantish. But always, the Jewish Museum conceives of art and religion as interlocking elements of a story of civilization, commendably open to new influences and new interpretations.” (Farago) 212-423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org

Museum of the City of New York

NY AT ITS CORE (ongoing)
“Ten years in the making, New York at Its Core tells the compelling story of New York’s rise from a striving Dutch village to today’s “Capital of the World.” The exhibition captures the human energy that drove New York to become a city like no other and a subject of fascination the world over. Entertaining, inspiring, important, and at times bemusing, New York City “big personalities,” including Alexander Hamilton, Walt Whitman, Boss Tweed, Emma Goldman, JP Morgan, Fiorello La Guardia, Jane Jacobs, Jay-Z, and dozens more, parade through the exhibition. Visitors will also learn the stories of lesser-known New York personalities, like Lenape chieftain Penhawitz and Italian immigrant Susie Rocco. Even animals like the horse, the pig, the beaver, and the oyster, which played pivotal roles in the economy and daily life of New York, get their moment in the historical spotlight. Occupying the entire first floor in three interactive galleries (Port City, 1609-1898, World City, 1898-2012, and Future City Lab) New York at Its Core is shaped by four themes: money, density, diversity, and creativity. Together, they provide a lens for examining the character of the city, and underlie the modern global metropolis we know today. mcny.org” (NYCity Guide)

and you should be sure to check out these special exhibitions at that little museum on Fifth Ave., The Metropolitan Museum of Art
(open 7 days /week, AND always Pay What You Wish for NewYorkers)

‘ARMENIA!’ (through Jan. 13). The first major museum exhibition ever devoted to the art of Armenia — officially its “medieval” era, but in fact spanning nearly 1,500 years — bulges with weighty stone crosses, intricate altar frontals and flamboyantly illuminated Bibles and Gospel books unlike any manuscripts you’ve seen from that time. Armenia, in the Caucasus Mountains, was the first country to convert to Christianity, in the fourth century, and the richly painted religious texts here, lettered in the unique Armenian alphabet, are a testament to the centrality of the church in a nation that would soon be plunged into the world of Islam. By the end of the Middle Ages, Armenian artists were working as far afield as Rome, where an Armenian bishop painted this show’s most astounding manuscript: a tale of Alexander the Great that features the Macedonian king’s ship swallowed by an enormous brown crab, hooking the sails with its pincers as its mouth gapes. (NYT-Jason Farago)

Delacroix  (Now-1/6/19)
“This is the first comprehensive U.S. retrospective of the work of French artist Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863). The Met has teamed up with The Louvre, showcasing in chronological order some 150 pieces, including paintings, drawings, manuscripts, and prints.” (cityguideny)

‘CROWNS OF THE VAJRA MASTERS: RITUAL ART OF NEPAL’ (through Dec. 16). “Up a narrow staircase, above the Met’s galleries of South and Southeast Asian art, are three small rooms of art from the Himalayas. The space, a bit like a treehouse, is a capsule of spiritual energy, which is especially potent these days thanks to this exhibition. The crowns of the title look like antique versions of astronaut headgear: gilded copper helmets, studded with gems, encrusted with repoussé plaques and topped by five-pronged antennas — the vajra, or thunderbolt of wisdom. Such crowns were believed to turn their wearers into perfected beings who are willing and able to bestow blessings on the world. This show is the first to focus on these crowns, and it does so with a wealth of compressed historical information, as well as several resplendent related sculptures and paintings from Nepal and Tibet. But it’s the crowns themselves, the real ones, the wisdom generators, set in mandala formation in the center of the gallery, that are the fascinators.” (NYT-Holland Cotter)

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Museum Mile is a section of Fifth Avenue which contains one of the densest displays of culture in the world. Eight museums can be found along this section of Fifth Avenue:
• 105th Street – El Museo del Barrio (closed Sun-Mon)*
• 103rd Street – Museum of the City of New York (open 7 days /week)
•  92nd Street – The Jewish Museum (closed Wed) (Sat FREE) (Thu 5-8 PWYW)
•  91st Street  –  Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (open 7 days /week)
•  89th Street –  National Academy Museum (closed Mon-Tue)
•  88th Street –  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (closed Thu) (Sat 6-8 PWYW)
•  86th Street –  Neue Galerie New York (closed Tue-Wed) (Fri 6-8 FREE)
Last, but certainly not least, America’s premier museum
•  82nd Street – The Metropolitan Museum of Art (open 7 days /week)*
*always Pay What You Wish (PWYW) for NewYorkers

Although technically not part of the Museum Mile, the Frick Collection (closed Mon) (Wed 2-6pm PWYW; First Friday each month (exc Jan+Sep) 6-9pm FREE) on the corner of 70th St. and Fifth Avenue and the The Morgan Library & Museum (closed Mon) (Fri 7-9 FREE) on Madison Ave and 37th St are also located near Fifth Ave.
Now plan your own museum crawl (info on hours & admission updated June 2, 2015).
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For other selected Museum and Gallery Special Exhibitions see Recent Posts in right Sidebar dated 12/11 and 12/09.
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