The oldest artifacts displayed in "Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought," the striking touring show now on view at the National Museum of African Art, are portraits of the purest sort. Each depicts an individual. You can almost see them breathe. While some are terra cotta, the largest and most impressive -- cast 800 years ago -- is a regal head of bronze.

The Yoruba exhibition, organized by the Center for African Art, will remain on view through Aug. 26.


Wolf Trap's gala opening night Wednesday will be highlighted by Royal Fireworks -- not only Handel's music of that name, performed on original instruments by the Grande Bande Orchestra, but also a replica of the fireworks display that was given when the music had its first performance.

The National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Mstislav Rostropovich, will feature soloists from the orchestra and the world premieres of Jon Deak's Double Bass Concerto and Andreas Makris's Concertante in this week's program. Tonight, with Erich Kunzel conducting, its annual Memorial Day Concert on the Capitol grounds (the first one to be televised) will feature music related to the various wars in which Americans have died.

Other orchestral music this week: the Fairfax Symphony, Saturday night at Fairfax High School; the National Gallery Orchestra, tonight at the gallery; the National Chamber Orchestra, performing an outdoor pops concert, tonight in Rockville Town Center.

Opera will never seem quite the same after La Gran Scena Opera Company, specializing in parodies of operatic repertoire and personalities, opens a 10-day Washington engagement Wednesday night in the Terrace Theater. Also available for opera fans this week are two performances of "Lucia di Lammermoor," Friday night and Sunday afternoon at Eldbrooke United Methodist Church on River Road.

Saxophonist Gary Louie will play today at the Phillips Collection. Other noteworthy chamber music: the Virginia Chamber Orchestra Players, today at the Lyceum, and trumpeter Emerson Head, with pianist Noriko Ohtake, midday Tuesday at the IMF Visitors Center.

Pianists of the week: Thomas Mastroianni, midday Wednesday at the IMF; Lorenz Ehrsam, Wednesday night at the Swiss Embassy; and Jessica Krash and Adrienne Sirken, midday Wednesday in Lisner Auditorium. DANCE

The Dance Africa, DC festival continues at Dance Place with a round of matinee performances this afternoon and an evening concert by Odadaa!, featuring dance and music of Ghana; Friday through Sunday the festival concludes with performances by the 22-member National Ballet of Zaire. The Young Dancers of the Washington Ballet, with students of the Washington School of the Ballet, present a late-morning and an evening performance Tuesday at Lisner Auditorium. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Kennedy Center Opera House, for the first time under the artistic direction of Judith Jamison, successor to the late, great Ailey; an all-Ailey program opens the run Tuesday night, followed by six different programs through Sunday evening including works by Ailey, Talley Beatty, Ulysses Dove, John Butler, Donald Byrd, Lester Horton, George Faison and Donald McKayle -- an amazing spectrum of outstanding choreographers. Olympic gold medalist figure skaters Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt head a cast of 13 international skaters in a new show choreographed by Sandra Bezic at Capital Centre Thursday night. FILM

For fans of "Kings of the Road," "Wings of Desire" and "The American Friend," on Thursday and Friday, the Hirshhorn Museum will present "Motion and Emotion: The Films of Wim Wenders," a documentary discussion of the German filmmaker's work featuring Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton and Ry Cooder. Shot just last year, the film will be shown as part of the museum's Free Film Series at 8 p.m. POP MUSIC

It's the pluck -- and the bow and the strum -- of the Irish at Glen Echo Park today as the annual Irish Folk Festival brings together dozens of local, national and homeland acts for music and dance that last from noon to midnight. And it's free too.

Soca stars David Rudder and Tambu bring Charlie's Roots to the Kalabash club on Sunday.

Pianist Marcus Roberts continues to establish himself as one of the major new voices in jazz. He's at Blues Alley Monday through Wednesday.

Sisters Kate and Anna McGarrigle sing like angels, write like realists and imbue their music with the kind of depth and grace most songsmiths only dream about. At the National Geographic's Grosvenor Auditorium on Tuesday.

Britain's Julia Fordham has a deep, dusky voice that sweeps up to Heaven when the emotion seizes her: at the Bayou on Thursday.

Oddball express: Rickie Lee Jones and Lyle Lovett, sharing the stage at Wolf Trap Friday and Saturday.

More Winanses in Washington: This time, it's the brotherly quartet, which established the Winans as the first family of gospel. With sister Vickie and the DC Mass Choir at Constitution Hall Friday.

Rockabilly pioneer Charlie Feathers is seriously ill, and for the third time in less than a year, Washington and regional bands pay homage in a fund-raiser at the Severna Park Elks Lodge on Saturday: The bill is headlined by the underrated country singer Becky Hobbs, but also features Sun Records veteran Vernon Taylor, Tex Rubinowitz, Austin favorites High Noon, Les Lee "Bird" Anderson, Todd Monroe, Bobby Smith, Virginia and the Bluedots and Go Cat Go. THEATER

Lawrence Redmond's performance as a short-order cook, bound and determined to win the heart of a middle-aged, overweight waitress, lights up Terrence McNally's off-Broadway hit "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" (at the Studio).