This holiday season, for fans of classical music and dance, almost every day is like Christmas

Opera music

CLEVELAND, Ohio – There is no place like Cleveland to vacation. Not if you are a fan of classical music or dance.

As even a quick glance at the list below indicates, northeast Ohio is full of music and dance performances celebrating the holidays. Walk into almost any major theater or concert hall around Cleveland this time of year and you are bound to encounter a “Nutcracker”, “Messiah” or other festive presentation.

That, or just turn on your computer. Thanks to virtual programs from The Delices, The Cleveland Orchestra and The City Ballet of Cleveland, Patrons of the Arts in 2021 can get their vacation fix in the pandemic comfort and safety of their own home, right after they finish watching “A Christmas. Story “for the thousandth time.

The hard part, really, is deciding between shows. This year, for example, dance fans must choose a classic “The Nutcracker” or productions set in Cleveland or Akron. Likewise, viewers have their choice of programs from the Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Opera Theater, Quire Cleveland, and Apollo’s Fire, to name a few.

Unfortunately, we cannot make the decision for you. All we can do is tell you what’s on offer. You can point your finger at artistic gifts under the tree, but it’s up to you to open them.

A scene from the City Ballet of Cleveland’s “The Uniquely Cleveland Nutcracker” production, directed to the Breen Center for the Performing Arts.

Amahl and the Night Visitors

The Cleveland Opera Theater stages the one-act holiday opera by Giancarlo Menotti, a retelling of the Nativity and the Three Wise Men stories from a new perspective. Artistic Director Scott Skiba directs an intimate and professional production directed by Music Director Domenico Boyagian. In the spirit of the season, all three performances in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and Rocky River are free and goodwill donations benefit The City Mission. Friday to Sunday from December 17 to 19 at various locations. Go to

Akron’s nutcracker

The holiday classic takes on a local twist in this world-first collaboration between the Cleveland’s Verb Ballets and the Akron Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Christopher Wilkins. Instead of the traditional sets from the artwork, instead look for Main Street in Akron, the Polsky Department Store, and Stan Hywet Hall, all rendered with new sets, costumes, and video elements. Also in the mix: the Firestone High School Choir and ArtSparks. Thursday and Friday December 16 and 17, EJ Thomas Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron. Go to

Carols for Quire XI: Mary’s Song

Connect to the spiritual roots of Christmas in this ancient choral music program from Quire Cleveland. Director Jay White kicks off the professional group’s 14th season with three free performances of traditional Christmas carols and 16th-century musical arrangements of the Magnificat, a song of praise from the biblical figure of Mary during her visit to John’s mother- Baptist. Thursday to Saturday, December 2-4 at St. Paschal Baylon Church, 5384 Wilson Mills Rd., Highland Heights. Go to

Bach's Mass of Apollo's Fire in B minor

Apollo’s Fire, seen here with musical director Jeannette Sorrell, will perform Handel’s Messiah in December with guest conductor Nicholas McGegan.

Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra

If you love your vacation cooking to a mix of pure classical music, the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra’s upcoming program has your name everywhere. Music director Victor Liva conducts two performances at Cleveland State University combining holiday music with an intriguing program by Shostakovich, Milhaud and De Falla, featuring guest soloist Charles Bernard, deputy principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Saturday and Sunday December 11-12 at the Waetjen Auditorium, 2121 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Go to

Handel’s Messiah

Handel’s scholar and comprehensive early music expert Nicholas McGegan presides over Apollo’s Fire and the most authentic tale of Handel’s choral masterpiece in the region. The Apollo’s Singers and four guest soloists will join the period instrument ensemble in five performances across northeast Ohio: soprano Erica Schuller; countertenor Daniel Moody; tenor Thomas Cooley; and baritone Hadleigh Adams. Wednesday to Sunday, December 8 to 12, at various locations. Go to

Holiday concerts

The flagship Christmas event in Northeast Ohio, this joyous performance by the Cleveland Orchestra is a tradition on its own. This year he’s back in person at Severance Music Center with former associate conductor Brett Mitchell leading the orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus in a collection of holiday classics and light classical music, the all on a stage decorated with festive jokes. If that’s not for you, the orchestra is also planning to release a free virtual program on December 10 called “Holiday Delights: A Visual Album”. Thursday to Sunday, December 9-12 and 16-19 at the Severance Music Center, 11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Go to,, or call 216-231-1111.

2019 Holiday Arts Guide: Pop Music

Carl Topilow, conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, shows off his colorful collection of clarinets in black, red, white, blue and green. Topilow conducts the orchestra’s annual holiday show at Connor Palace in Playhouse Square.Peggy Turbett / The Plain Merchant

Home for the holidays

Conductor Carl Topilow and the Cleveland Pops Orchestra have few rivals when it comes to entertaining a Christmas crowd. Their first vacation show at Connor Palace this year features all the usual suspects along with guest singer Tricia Tanguy and narrator Wayne Dawson. Look for the band again a month later at Severance Music Center, when Topilow and his friends ring the bell in 2022 with a New Years Eve concert and dance. Sunday November 28 at Connor Palace, 1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland and Friday December 31 at Severance Music Center, 11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Go to

Christmas, Christmas

This holiday presentation from French baroque specialists Les Délices ticks several categories at once. A virtual program is perfect for those who cannot attend live performances. It caters to poetry lovers too, with readings by radio host Dee Perry of works by local and world-renowned writers. It is intended especially for music lovers, for all those who will appreciate the original arrangements of old French, English and German Christmas carols, all performed on period instruments. Visible online from December 1st.

School of Cleveland Ballet ballerinas warm up at Andrews Osborne Academy in Willoughby. Cleveland Ballet will perform “The Nutcracker” again this holiday season at Connor Palace in Playhouse Square. The simple merchant


The Cleveland Ballet is more than ready for its biggest production of the year, a series of five performances of the holiday classic at Connor Palace in Playhouse Square in Cleveland. Artistic Director Gladisa Guadalupe has concocted a lavish new production of the ETA Hoffman version that is sure to awaken the holiday spirit and help everyone in attendance forget about missing out on tradition last year. Friday to Sunday, December 3-5 at Connor Palace, 1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Go to or call 216-241-6000.

Cleveland’s unique nutcracker

The Akronites have their version of “The Nutcracker”, thanks to Verb Ballets. The Clevelanders, meanwhile, have this one, courtesy of Cleveland’s pre-professional City Ballet. Director Courtney Laves-Mearini is bringing back to the Breen Center her beloved production, one that tells the classic story but also revel in the history and culture of Cleveland. If live participation is not an option, consider watching the live stream online. Saturday December 18 at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts, 2008 W. 30th St., Cleveland. Go to