The National, Fabled Creche, Leggy Blonde, ‘Fille’: NYC Weekend

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Matt Berninger of The National in New York City. The band plays Friday night at the Beacon Theatre.

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Photographer: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Matt Berninger of The National in New York City. The band plays Friday night at the Beacon Theatre. Close

Matt Berninger of The National in New York City. The band plays Friday night at the Beacon Theatre.

Photographer: Michael Lutch/Jeff Richards Associates via Bloomberg

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in "Porgy and Bess." Close

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in "Porgy and Bess."

Photographer: Michael Lutch/Jeff Richards Associates via Bloomberg

David Alan Grier and company in "Porgy and Bess." The play is in previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Close

David Alan Grier and company in "Porgy and Bess." The play is in previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Photographer: Richard Termine/New York Theatre Ballet via Bloomberg

Joshua Andino-Nieto and Elena Zahlmann in the "Nutcracker." Close

Joshua Andino-Nieto and Elena Zahlmann in the "Nutcracker."

Photographer: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera via Bloomberg

Maurizio Muraro and Nino Machaidze in "La Fille du Regiment" in New York. Donizetti's opera is at Lincoln Center through Jan. 6, 2012. Close

Maurizio Muraro and Nino Machaidze in "La Fille du Regiment" in New York. Donizetti's opera is at Lincoln Center through Jan. 6, 2012.

Photographer: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera via Bloomberg

Kiri Te Kanawa and Ann Murray in "La Fille du Regiment" in New York. Donizetti's opera is at Lincoln Center through Jan. 6, 2012. Close

Kiri Te Kanawa and Ann Murray in "La Fille du Regiment" in New York. Donizetti's opera is at Lincoln Center through Jan. 6, 2012.

Source: Michael Werner Gallery via Bloomberg

"Printemps" by Francis Picabia, part of the show "Francis Picabia: Late Paintings" on view at Michael Werner Gallery through Jan. 14, 2012. Close

"Printemps" by Francis Picabia, part of the show "Francis Picabia: Late Paintings" on view at Michael Werner Gallery... Read More

Source: Michael Werner Gallery via Bloomberg

"Deux Personnages Transparent" by Francis Picabia, part of the show "Francis Picabia: Late Paintings" on view at Michael Werner Gallery through Jan. 14, 2012. Close

"Deux Personnages Transparent" by Francis Picabia, part of the show "Francis Picabia: Late Paintings" on view at... Read More

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art via Bloomberg

The annual Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque creche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The twenty-foot blue spruce shows a collection of 18th-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs among its boughs. Close

The annual Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque creche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The twenty-foot blue... Read More

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art via Bloomberg

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Neapolitan Baroque creche. Close

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Neapolitan Baroque creche.

Brooklyn-based band The National crafts compelling music about growing up. Hear their moody songs Friday night at the Beacon Theatre.

Evocative lyrics get charged with the rich baritone of lead man Matt Berninger, adding just the right dose of gravitas.

The two pairs of highly-talented brothers backing him up -- Dessners and Devendorfs -- don’t hurt either.

Beacon Theatre, Broadway at 74th St. Information: +1-212- 465-6500; http://www.beacontheatre.com.

Saturday

A leggy blonde struggles with a blanket that reveals demure closed eyes in Francis Picabia’s “Printemps” (1942-43), while the man -- naked, tanned torso ablaze with light -- smiles into the wind.

It’s part of the exhibit of the artist’s “Late Paintings” at Michael Werner. Often derided by critics as insincere kitsch, Picabia’s work from the 1930s experimented with images from Hollywood and girlie mags and influenced subsequent generations.

At Michael Werner, 4 E. 77th St., through Jan. 14. Information: +1-212-988-1623; http://www.michaelwerner.com.

Saturday Matinee

Elizabeth Streb’s fearless dancers work with ziplines, trampolines, bungee cords and moving ladders to push the laws of gravity.

For “Kiss the Air!” they’ve taken over the 55,000-square- foot, 85-foot-high drill hall at the Park Avenue Armory.

Combining extreme sports with dance, Streb’s choreography celebrates young, strong bodies and exuberant physicality.

Front and center seats are for those who don’t mind getting wet.

Runs through Dec. 22 at 643 Park Avenue. Information: +1- 212-616-3930; http://www.armoryonpark.org.

Saturday Late Afternoon

Pop in for a short and sweet “Nutcracker” suitable for the barely sentient.

The small-scale New York Theatre Ballet has a new, hour- long version choreographed by Keith Michael.

Soldiers ride rocking horses to battle mice, clockwork imps jump around and a snowy owl flies over the audience.

Runs through Dec. 18 at Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St. Information: +1-212-679-0401; http://www.nytb.org.

Saturday Night

For a walk on the naughty side of Christmas, check out the Gotham Burlesque’s holiday extravaganza, starring Miss Dirty Martini.

A mix of comedy, magic and performance art -- and a little old-fashioned hoochie coochie -- the show features Legs Malone, Amber Ray and Tigger, among others, and is hosted by “World- famous ‘Bob.’”

Triad Theatre, 158 W. 72nd St. Information: +1-212-362- 2590; http://gothamburlesque.com.

Sunday

Audra McDonald is worth a visit to “Porgy and Bess” in the new staging by Diane Paulus, who has been babbling alarmingly about how the story didn’t make sense for her, and so she had to improve it. She runs the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the production went through some changes en route to Broadway.

In previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St., for a Jan. 12 opening. Information: +1-212-221-1211; http://richardrodgerstheatre.com.

Sunday Evening

Cherubs and silk-clad angels adorn the great spruce at the Metropolitan Museum.

Surrounding the tree’s base is the museum’s beloved Neapolitan Baroque creche with hundreds of diminutive figures, including shepherds and critters -- even an elephant -- who have come to adore the newborn babe.

Colorful townspeople abound and the three Magi with their exotic retinue are also on the way.

This evening at 8:30 p.m. hear the Voices of Ascension Chorus sing nativity motets and Christmas carols in front of the tree.

Post-concert, stay for a 3-course prix fixe dinner in the Petrie Court Cafe.

At 1000 Fifth Ave. Information: +1-212-535-7710; http://www.metmuseum.org.

Looking Ahead: Monday

A high-singing orphan adopted by a bunch of soldiers is at the heart of Donizetti’s charming “La Fille du Regiment.” Her tenor suitor gets to sing nine high Cs. What fun!

Director Christian Rath brings a light touch to this revival of the popular 2008 production by Laurent Pelly.

Nino Machaidze is Marie and Lawrence Brownlee struts around happily as Tonio. An extra bonus: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa appears in the speaking role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp.

In the pit, the splendid Yves Abel keeps things bubbling along.

Runs through Jan. 6 at the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center. Information: +1-212-362-6000; http://www.metoperafamily.org.

(With assistance from Lili Rosboch. Zinta Lundborg is an editor for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Zinta Lundborg at zlundborg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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