Monday, January 31, 2011

Season Announcement Season: LAO, and Suddenly SFO's Season Looks Great

Placido Domingo announced the LA Opera 2011-12 season today. James Conlon must be tearing his hair out:
  • Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (Company Premiere); Conlon/Jenis, Dyka, Semenchuk, Grivnov, Cresswell
  • Mozart's Così fan tutte (Production New to Los Angeles); Conlon/Kurzak, Donose, Constantinescu, D'Arcangelo, Pirgu
  • Gounod's Roméo et Juliette (Revival); Domingo/Machaidze, Grigolo, Miller, Kowaljow
  • Verdi's Simon Boccanegra (Company Premiere); Conlon/Domingo, Martinez, Kowaljow, Secco
  • Britten's Albert Herring (Production New to Los Angeles); Conlon/Shrader, Bonner, Mack, Bunnell, Michie, Miller, and others
  • Puccini's La Bohème (Revival); Summers/Costello, Perez, Rucinski
Okay, Albert Herring is a rarity, except that Santa Fe had it last year, also with Alek Shrader, and Lorin Maazel is touring it to Berkeley this year. After the brilliance of the Freyer Ring and Conlon's Recovered Voices series...and the success of Il Postino....one can only shake one's head sadly and wish the company weren't in such a deep, deep financial hole. Sorry, Henry!


Henry Holland said...

*Sigh* So, their Britten series leading up to Benji's 2013 birth centennial has so far consisted of two chamber operas with orchestras of 13 players that will be swallowed up in the airplane hanger that is The Dot. No Grimes, Budd, Gloriana, Midsummer's Night Dream or Placido forbid, Death in Venice. *Sigh*

I guess Conlon was [charitable version] misinformed/[unchariable version] lying when he said that Die Tote Stadt would be done in 2011-12 to finish the Recovered Voices project.

Mein Gott, even if I wanted to go to the Gounoud, if I was a fan of the other stuff I'd be shaking my head at those casts.

I'm starting to think that Los Angeles Opera is the opera company equivalent of Fasolt, a victim of the curse of The Ring. They broke the bank with a production that no one else wants to put on (= no fees) and that won't be revived for at least another 5 years, eating up money for storage. Unreal.

Can we bring Peter Hemmings back from the dead?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, dear, curse of Fasolt!

DO you mean David Hemmings, who created the role of Miles in Turn of the Screw, or Peter Hemmings the former operatic impressario?

Henry Holland said...

The impressario. I met him once and begged him to do Death in Venice. He laughed and said it was easy for me to say that, I didn't have to try and sell tickets to it! :-)

Mmmmm.....David Hemmings in Blow Up.....mmmmmmmm.

Lisa Hirsch said...


We've had Death in Venice, Peter Grimes, Billy Budd, and Midsummer Night's Dream in SF in the last 20 years; I feel so lucky to have seen them, as well as a small-house Dream in 2008....

Henry Holland said...

Ah, DinV, how much I love your flawed self.

It's been done three times in SF according to their archive, but the page for the April 1975 production says

This new, first American production of "Death in Venice"

Not true, it was done at The Met with Peter Pears in October 1974.

It was done in 1975 and 1979 at the Curran Theater and in 1997 at the War Memorial. I went to the opening night in 1997 and Kenneth Riegel had a nightmare night, he was awful. I debated going to the second performance, but I'm glad I did because he was very good. The production was excellent except for the risible Tadzio, the young Polish God who is supposed to be 14 but looked about 25.


One of the big disappointments surrounding the fiasco of Gerard Mortier taking over the City Opera was that the incredible ENO production of DinV was on the board for his first season. Alas.

sfmike said...

David Hemmings the movie actor was the original Miles in "The Turn of the Screw," and Britten sort of went mad for him during the months leading up to the Venice premiere in the early 1950s. Hemmings is quoted in that awful Humphreys biography of Britten saying how much he appreciated the composer as a friend and mentor when he was an adolescent, and how Britten, though in love with him, was "always a gentleman."

And yes, that LAO season looks pretty godawful, including "Albert Herring" which doesn't belong in a big barn like the Dorothy Chandler (or Zellerbach Hall, for that matter).

Henry Holland said...

In the creepy, sad and very worthwhile book Brittens Children by John Bridcut, he relates the story that David Hemmings was singing Miles in Venezia, with Britten conducting. During the performance, Hemmings' voice cracked (shades of Peter on the Brady Bunch). Per Hemmings, he was literally dead to Britten from that moment on, he never spoke to him again.

And! the boy they got in to replace Hemmings had the same thing happen the next night. Great opera but what a nightmare it must be to cast Miles.

There's no evidence at all that Britten ever diddled any of the boys/young men he was in love with. What a feat, really and of course that theme of oppression and self-denial runs throughout Britten's operas.

Lisa Hirsch said...

So, the thing is, if Britten did ever diddle any of the boys, it will never come out. The British libel laws work against the possibility: if the Britten estate sued (f it's possible to libel a dead person), the person they sued would have to prove he was telling the truth, rather than the other way around. Britten's been gone 35 years. Who would want to stir up their life with all that risk?