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Five South Florida classical-music performances not to be missed in 2017-2018

YUJA WANG

7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 2 p.m. Oct. 15; New World Center, 500 17th St., Miami Beach; 800-597-3331 or NWS.edu. Tickets cost $38-$145.

One of classical music’s reigning young superstars, Beijing-born pianist Yuja Wang is a mesmerizing performer who also has been known to grab attention with her provocative fashion sense, a thoroughly modern duality that launched a 7,000-word profile in the New Yorker magazine last year. Wang and her friend and mentor Michael Tilson Thomas will join forces to open the New World Symphony season with music from the passionate Russian composers who first inspired Wang: Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev.

RENEE FLEMING

8 p.m. Jan. 13; Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-832-7469 or Kravis.org. Tickets start at $30.

A perennial favorite of the South Florida arts season, prolific soprano Renee Fleming created a stir earlier in the year with the acknowledgment that she was saying goodbye to an iconic role, the Marschallin in “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Metropolitan Opera, her home for 25 years. Consistent with her dynamic career, another door opens in the spring when Fleming makes her Broadway musical debut as Nettie Fowler in a production of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein classic “Carousel.”

SERAPHIC FIRE

“The Little Match Girl Passion”: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church, 2401 SW Third Ave., Miami; 7 p.m. Jan. 18, Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church, 1225 Piper Blvd., Naples; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19, First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, 536 Coral Way; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, All Saints Episcopal Church, 333 Tarpon Drive, Fort Lauderdale; 4 p.m. Jan. 21, All Souls Episcopal Church, 4025 Pine Tree Drive, Miami Beach; 305-285-9060 or SeraphicFire.org. Tickets cost $46 and $50.

Every season, the intrepid Grammy-nominated choral ensemble Seraphic Fire can be counted on to explore profound spaces where the artistic and the spiritual meet, this season exemplified by the company’s January performances of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Little Match Girl Passion.” In the opener for Seraphic Fire’s three-part Parables of Passion series, Lang finds in the Hans Christian Andersen story (a poor child, sick and shoeless, is forced by an abusive father to sell matches on the street, where the girl eventually freezes to death) a parable that compares the scorned girl’s fate with the suffering of Jesus. While this landscape may sound bleak, the New York Times described “an ethereal meditation” that was “a poignant and, by the end, consoling piece.”

THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA

8 p.m. Jan. 26-27, Feb. 2-3; Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722 or ArshtCenter.org. Two-concert packages start at $70.

The esteemed orchestra, now in its 12th season wintering in South Florida, will devote its January concerts to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, the poignant, existential masterpiece its composer never heard performed before his death shortly after its completion. “[It] is the most heavenly thing Mahler has written ... an expression of an exceptional fondness for this earth, the longing to live in peace on it, to enjoy nature to its depths — before death comes,” Viennese composer Alban Berg wrote. Conducted, as always, by Franz Welser-Möst, the Cleveland Orchestra’s February concerts will be devoted to an eclectic all-Beethoven program, including his Symphony No. 5, the joyful Symphony No. 8 and the Overture to Coriolan.

FLORIDA GRAND OPERA

“Florencia en el Amazonas”: 7 p.m. April 28, 2 p.m. April 29, 8 p.m. May 1, 8 p.m. May 4 and 8 p.m. May 5; Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami; 800-741-1010 or FGO.org. Tickets cost $12-$250.

The first Spanish-language opera commissioned by a major U.S. opera company (Houston Grand Opera in 1996), Daniel Catán's “Florencia en el Amazonas” journeys with the passengers of a ship on the Amazon in the early 1900s, including a native opera star looking for lost love. But, inspired by the magical realism of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez, it is a trip of an entirely different attitude. In-demand Puerto Rican-born soprano Ana María Martínez, who just finished the lead role in “Carmen” for the Los Angeles Opera, will bring her rich, burnished vocalism and commanding presence to Florencia.

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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