From entrancing festive tales to seismic Stravinsky masterpieces, Manchester’s winter classical concert programme promises an irresistible slate of world-renowned musicians and beloved compositions to delight enthusiasts and newbies alike.

Here are some of the best classical music performances coming to the city during the colder months.

The Snow Maiden: Rimsky-Korsakov | RNCM | Sun 10, Tue 12, Wed 13 & Sat 16 Dec | 3pm, 7pm | From £15

Brought to life for the very first time at the RNCM, Rimsky-Korsakov’s enchantingly mystical opera follows the fabled Snow Maiden who, in her desire for emancipation from her parents Father Frost and Mother Spring, embarks on a transformative journey to a remote village where she plans to live in peace among mortals.

Featuring gossamer-light moments of intimacy, heady romantic melodies and soaring, triumphant choruses, the RNCM students’ performance flawlessly captures Rimsky-Korsakov’s singular grasp of human emotion in all its complexity, from euphoria to anguish, through a beautifully composed festive operatic work.

124 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9RD, Tel: 0161 907 5200
Swan Lake | Bridgewater Hall | Tue 2 - Wed 3 Jan | 7pm, 2.30pm | £26.50-£52.30

From the unabashed grandeur of the palace ballroom to the hypnotic beauty of the moonlit lake, Tchaikovsky’s timeless romantic tragedy is rendered with majestic grace by the Varna International Ballet and its accompanying orchestra across three performances at The Bridgewater Hall.

Brimming with love, heartbreak and profound wonder, Tchaikovsky’s revolutionary 1875 masterpiece charts the story of Prince Siegfried and his fathomless love for Odette, a young woman cursed to live as a swan every day until somebody who has never loved before pledges their eternal love for her. Featuring some of ballet’s most iconic sequences, including Waltz (Act I) and Dance of the Little SwansSwan Lake also promises ‘one of ballet’s most unmissable technical challenges’ in the dual role of Odette and Odile, the temptress who counteracts the swan queen’s emotional depth with a dance of captivating precision.

Lower Mosley St, Manchester, M2 3WS, Tel: 0161 907 9000
Ellen Kent: Madama Butterfly | Manchester Opera House | Fri 12 Jan | 7.30pm | From £13

Back by popular demand, the award-winning Ellen Kent and Ukrainian Opera & Ballet Theatre Kyiv production of Puccini’s mournful masterwork Madama Butterfly returns to Manchester to kick off the city’s 2024 calendar in sublime style.

Featuring a full orchestra, an acclaimed chorus and an illustrious cast of international soloists including Korean soprano Elena Dee, Ukrainian soprano Alyona Kistenyovaand and mezzo-soprano compatriots Natalia Matveeva and Irina Sproglis, the global smash-hit production brings a stunning reimagination of the heartbreaking story of a beautiful young Japanese girl who falls for an American naval lieutenant, unleashing a series of devastatingly dramatic consequences.

3 Quay St, Manchester M3 3HP
Edvard Grieg Vocal Ensemble & Chamber Choir | RNCM | Fri 19 Jan | 7.30pm | £7-£13

Performing side by side with the RNCM Chamber Choir, the Edvard Grieg Vocal Ensemble celebrates the rich choral traditions of Norway and Britain with an evening of spellbinding Scandinavian soundscapes, featuring works by Nystedt, Bairstow, Nilsen and more.

Following their thrilling collaboration for the BBC Proms this past summer, the eight-part a cappella choir hosts its first RNCM concert of the calendar year on Fri 19 Jan.

124 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9RD
Manchester Camerata: Winter Baroque by Candelight | Gorton Monastery | Sun 28 Jan | 3pm | £23-£28

Billed as ‘an intimate celebration of baroque music’, Manchester Camerata’s first concert of the new year returns to the Great Nave of Gorton Monastery for an intimate yet transcendent in-the-round recital which evokes the eternal brilliance of Bach, Vivaldi and Rameau with a programme of wondrous violin and cello concertos.

Featuring solo performances from Manchester Camerata Leader Caroline Pether alongside Principal Cellist Hannah Roberts, Baroque by Candelight is led by Artistic Partner Daniel Pioro, a breathtakingly exciting violinist whose 2019 proms debut was described as ‘the most inventive and engaging’ by The Daily Telegraph.

89 Gorton Ln, Manchester M12 5WF
The Halle: The Firebird | Bridgewater Hall | Sun 28 Jan | 4pm | £15.50-£46

Led by the esteemed Alondra de la Parra, the first Mexican to have conducted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Hallé presents a magisterial rendition of The Firebird, Stravinsky’s soaring magnum opus, on Sun 28 Jan.

Opening with Debussy’s delicate yet impassioned interpretation of Mallarme’s dreams and desires of a faun, the evening features Khachaturian’s blistering Violin Concerto, marbled through with Armenian folk traditions, before the orchestra flawlessly delivers The Firebird in their full, glittering magnificence.


Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Tue 12 Dec 2023