"Rosso Fiorentino," represented by his drawings and prints now at the National Gallery, is half sublime and half subversive. He disparaged Michelangelo, insulted the sweet purity of Raphael's Madonnas, was mischievous and hot-tempered and died in 1540, a suicide by poison. But it's as if he has been waiting for the late 1980s. His time's come around at last. His clotted hyperactive space, his layering of themes, his sexiness and strangeness, seem just right for today.


The Washington Opera will open its season Saturday night in the Kennedy Center Opera House with Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette," conducted by Cal Stewart Kellogg and featuring the Washington Opera debuts of two young American artists who already have established reputations in Europe: tenor Neil Wilson, who will make his Metropolitan Opera debut later this season, and soprano Angela Maria Blasi, making her first professional appearance in her native country.

Those who are willing to leave town for their operatic experiences may also consider "The Merry Widow" presented by the Prince George's Civic Opera Friday at P.G. Community College, the Baltimore Opera's "Norma" tomorrow night at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore or the Virginia Opera's "Don Giovanni" Friday night or next Sunday afternoon in Richmond's Carpenter Center.

Rafael Fru hbeck de Burgos will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra, with contralto Ortrun Wenkel and the Choral Arts Society, in a program of "Brahms, Brahms and Brahms" this week at the Kennedy Center.

Otto Luening will be featured in the Kennedy Center's American Composers series, Wednesday night at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Other contemporary music this week will include the David Lloyd Kreeger Composition Competition, this afternoon at Catholic University's Ward Recital Hall, and the Contemporary Music Forum, tomorrow night at the Corcoran Gallery.

The University of Maryland's Handel Festival should reach a spectacular conclusion this afternoon with Paul Traver conducting "Israel in Egypt" in the Memorial Chapel. Other notable choral concerts this week will be given by the Alexandria Choral Society, tonight at the Arlington Unitarian Church; the George Mason University Symphonic Chorus, tonight in the Harris Theater, and the Prince George's Community Chorus, tomorrow night at the National Shrine.

Soprano Benita Valente will be one of the week's highlights in a vocal recital Friday night in the Terrace Theater. Other solo vocal music of the week will be performed by baritone Jonathan Retzlaff, today at the Phillips Collection, and baritone Jerome Barry, with the Washington Music Ensemble, Saturday night in the Dumbarton Church. This concert will be a "Sousa Birthday Celebration" launching the Washington Music Ensemble's American Music Festival.

Notable chamber music of the week: the Cleveland Octet, Saturday night in the Terrace Theater; clarinetist David Shifrin and pianist Menahem Pressler, Friday night at the Library of Congress; the National Symphony's chamber series, Monday night at the Jewish Community Center; guitarist Jeffrey Meyerriecks, Tuesday night at Mount Vernon College; and pianist James Tocco, Monday night at George Mason University.

Also worth noting are two embassy concerts: the Zelanizn Ensemble, Monday night at the New Zealand Embassy, and pianist Ruth Schmid-Gagnebin, Wednesday night at the Swiss Embassy.

Among the week's lunch-hour concerts, soprano Adriana Amelias will perform Thursday at Mount Vernon College, and members of the Selma Levine vocal faculty, Thursday at the Western Presbyterian Church.


A week of specially promising dance events includes: the Adaptors Movement Theatre in a continuing run at Baltimore's Theatre Project, today and resuming Wednesday through Nov. 22; the adventurous Pilobolus Dance Theatre, one night only, Thursday at the Warner; the African Heritage Dancers & Drummers annual festival, this year including American Indian, Cambodian, Hispanic, Hawaiian and African-American troupes, Friday through Sunday; the Middle East dance company of New York's Ramzi El-Edlibi at Ellington School Saturday night; and a shared program by three Washington troupes, the Spanish Dance Society, D.C. Contemporary Dance Theater and KanKouran, at Dance Place Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.


John Boorman writes and directs "Hope and Glory," a masterpiece of a human comedy based on his own boyhood memories of growing up in a London suburb during the blitz. Sebastian Rice Edwards, an 8-year-old actor, plays the leading role, with Sarah Miles in a lovely performance as his mother. There's not a false moment in this delicately balanced, often hilarious memoir, a celebration of being alive and being a child even at wartime. It recalls the sweetness of "My Life as a Dog" and the human spirit of "The Night of the Shooting Stars." And as with a good book, you hate to see it end.


Diabetes is no laughing matter, but the comedians joining forces to raise funds for research are. Monty Python's Graham Chapman, Franklin Ajaye, Kip Adotta, Tom Parks and some special guests are at the Warner tonight.

French jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, at the Warner on Tuesday.

Simply Red is the red-headed British version of blue-eyed soul, while Danny Wilson is an '80s update on Steely Dan. At Lisner on Tuesday.

Legendary jazz trombonist J.J. Johnson, at Blues Alley on Tuesday.

Celtic harpist Alan Stivell, at the Birchmere on Wednesday.

The exiled Chilean folk ensemble Inti-Illimani performs Wednesday at the Duke Ellington High School auditorium.

Cleveland's Pere Ubu reunite (which means David Thomas is back singing leads). At the 9:30 on Thursday.

Squeeze's Difford and Tillbrook may not be the Lennon and McCartney of the '80s, but they'll do. With the Silencers at Constitution Hall on Thursday.

Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition is one of the fine jazz ensembles of these times, but the members rarely get to play together. Fortunately, they'll do just that Thursday through Sunday at Blues Alley.

They're Washington's sweethearts, they've been in People, and their future's so bright they've got to wear shades -- Betty, at Lisner Friday and Saturday.

During the summer, they wowed everybody with their brief spots during Paul Simon's Graceland concert; now they're back on their own -- Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the exquisite nine-person a cappella ensemble from South Africa perform at the Warner on Saturday.

Pioneer black gospel composer Professor Alex Bradford is honored via an afternoon symposium and an evening concert by the Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir and Alberta Carter Bradford, Saturday at Baird Auditorium.


This week make a trip to theaters out of the downtown area (you can check out the leaves on the way). There's an involving production of Athol Fugard's antiapartheid "The Blood Knot" at Alexandria's American Showcase Theatre; last year's Helen Hayes award-winning musical "Quilters" is being reprised at the Castle Arts Center; and out at the Olney Theatre, Michael Frayn's exuberantly zany "Noises Off" returns to cap the season.