The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis announced its 2017-18 season Sunday, April 2, leaving no doubt it is the big dog in regional professional performing arts. The upcoming season includes 10 different series offering 57 different productions that generate 82 performances across a broad spectrum, including dance and ballet, classical music, Americana, jazz, world music, theater and speakers. The new season will be just slightly smaller than the current one, which has 63 productions and 95 performances.
The Mondavi, which has an annual budget of $8 million a year, operates two stages: Jackson Hall, an 1,801-seat proscenium theater/concert hall, and Vanderhoef Studio Theater, a smaller black space capable of multiple configurations. The center’s 2,200 subscriber households account for nearly 22,000 tickets, more than half of tickets sold overall in a year.
The season opens Thursday, Sept. 21, with the Mondavi debut of Los Tigres del Norte, the San Jose-based Norteño band sometimes called “Mexico’s Beatles.” It is known for modernizing and popularizing the corrido, a traditionally structured narrative song particularly popular in northern Mexico.
Don Roth, Mondavi Center executive director, said he has been trying to book the popular band for several years. “They play a lot of arenas and big venues. We haven’t really had a straight-up Norteño band like them before,” he said.
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Roth also pointed to a production of “Carmen” by Compañía Nacional de Danza of Spain (March 3-4) as one of several season highlights. “We have become known for bringing these large dance theater productions,” Roth said. “This is a wonderful company with a storied past, and this is a very contemporary take on ‘Carmen.’ ”
The always-popular Orchestra series has heavyweights such as the St. Louis Symphony (Jan. 17) and the Royal Philharmonic with Jean-Yves Thibaudet on piano (Jan. 27) and Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (March 12).
Roth said he was looking forward to seeing pianist Daniil Trifonov with the Mariinsky Orchestra (Nov. 2). “He’s written his own concerto, which sounds like it’s written by the love child of Gershwin and Tchaikovsky,” Roth said. “Even though he lives in the 21st century, he’s channeled a lot of 19th- and 20th-century romanticism into the piece. He’s got awesome chops.”
Jazz series highlights include the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (March 21) appearing for the first time without its artistic director Wynton Marsalis. Instead the orchestra, which has performed at the Mondavi six times, will be fronted by the legendary pianist and composer Chick Corea in a program featuring his music.
Other artists in the jazz series are drummer composer Jack DeJohnette (Oct. 21) celebrating his 75th birthday with a band including guitarist John Scofield and keyboardist John Mediski. Pianist Bill Charlap (Feb. 9) will bring his trio to the large hall, performing his album “Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein.”
Two other artists recognizing the 100th birthday of American composer Leonard Bernstein are pianist Lara Downes (Jan. 20) and Curtis on Tour: Curtis Chamber Orchestra (Feb. 25).
The Speakers series includes Garrison Keillor of “A Prairie Home Companion”; Janet Mock, subject of the campus community book project; and the new voice of rural America J.D. Vance, who wrote the popular “Hillbilly Elegy.”
Editor’s Note: This story was changed at 3 p.m. Monday, April 3, to correct the season’s opening date, which will be Thursday, Sept. 21.
Mondavi Center 2017-18 season
Current subscribers: Monday, May 1, deadline to renew
New subscribers: Deposits are being taken for sales that begin Friday, June 2
Single tickets: Sales begin Friday, July 14
Information: Specific dates, times, venues and prices will be available beginning Monday, April 3, at mondaviarts.org.