Monday, February 13, 2012

Season Announcement Season: LA Opera Plays It Safe

LA Opera's season announcement was last week, and hoo boy:

  • I Due Foscari
  • Don Giovanni 
  • Madama Butterfly
  • The Flying Dutchman
  • La Cenerentola
  • Tosca
That's playing it incredibly safe. Yeah, nobody's ever seen I Due Foscari, and it has both Domingo-as-baritone and the controversial Poplavskaya. Other than that...the casting looks good or better for everything else, though it's a little odd to find Eric Owens singing Sharpless. 

But one wonders, what happened to the Britten celebration that was promised? Will Recovered Voices ever return?


Anonymous said...

I know someone who works in the LA Opera costume shop, so I asked him about the Britten plans. He said that they tried for a year and a half to find a way to do Gloriana. The issue was that, for obvious financial reasons, they wanted to rent an existing production rather than produce a new one. And they couldn't find one anywhere in the world that would do (for example, the St. Louis production was too small scaled).

The season is disappointing, and I can't think that it's what Conlon must have wanted. One can only hope for better in the future. Meanwhile, as Brian has pointed out, the LA Phil opera offerings for next year are simply sensational.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, dear, that is so sad about Gloriana.

Henry Holland said...

And they couldn't find one anywhere in the world that would do (for example, the St. Louis production was too small scaled)

The Opera North production, from the DVD evidence, is pretty stunning but that was done 10 years ago, I don't think ON is paying storage fees like LAO is for the Freyer Ring :-)

So, OK, they tried to find a Gloriana, did it not occur to them to also be searching for a Grimes or Billy Budd just in case, along with putting out feelers for casts for those? The Billy Budd I saw in Vienna last year was very, very sparse, mostly a backdrop and some walls. They obviously didn't have a problem with doing Britten stuff they'd done before.

As I mentioned below, the Britten cycle seems to have been dropped for "varied" and "more popular" fare, i.e. multiple Puccini warhorses that I'm sure even Puccinians here are a bit tired of.

As for Recovered Voices, I'd *love* to know what happened to the money that funded the project, $4 million I think it was. Likely: it was diverted to pay for the Ring. Anyone know?

Considering the small budgets that were doled out for Die Vogel and especially Die Gezeichneten, they couldn't fund the last opera in the original RV project, Die Tote Stadt?

Now the RV project is reduced to doing concert versions of chamber operas at the Colburn School and such things.

*sigh* At least Domingo will be gone next year, it's sad to think that Conlon will probably go too. Plus, I really pity the person who has to come in and clean up the mess the current leadership is going to leave them.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Do you think Conlon will leave? If so, where for?

SFO won't be looking for a new MD for a few years.

I suppose there's the Met. ;-)

Henry Holland said...

I don't have any inside info, but my gut feeling is, yes, Conlon will leave too. A project close to his heart has been gutted, he's the MD of a company doing only 6 productions, there'll certainly be a huge mess for the new General Director to clean up when Domingo leaves, I can see it.

Where to go? Freelance? Or there has to be some place in Europe that would want his experience and versatility.

BTW, Lisa, this cracked me up yesterday. I posted my rant on the Opera Tattler, and got this reply:

About I Due Foscari, I just listened to a recording. I like it. According to Gramophone "I due Foscari is a taut, closely knit musicdrama, possibly Verdi's most consistently inspired score before Macbeth, one in which he was stretching his musical idiom towards the great middle-period operas. The noble father/ daughter-in-law duet in the first act has more than a few pm-echoes of the equivalent Violetta/ Germont scene in La Traviata; Franccsco's appeal to the Senate in the work's finale is reminiscent of Rigoletto's to the courtiers; and the whole piece is shot through with the same kind of intimations of nearby Venetian waters as is Simon Boccanegra."

So, the best that Gramophone can say about I Due Foscari is that it's the best of the "galley years" (i.e. damning with faint praise) and that Verdi recycled the music in to better operas? Wow.

My favorite was on Parterre where someone name Grimoldo claimed that there are no third rate Verdi operas, there's not even second-rate ones (!!), that I Due Foscari is a masterpiece. If it is, where does that leave Don Carlo(s), Otello and Flastaff?

I thought I was bad with my Schreker and Britten and Korngold pimping, but at least I haven't gone so far off the deep end as to claim "they never wrote a bad piece of music" like someone at Parterre claimed about Haydn.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Are you sure that DOMINGO will leave?

Conlon spent 17 years or something at Opera de Paris. Yeah, there might be another gig in Europe for him.

That's hilarious about I due Foscari. Who cares what the Gramophone says? I bet it is NOT better than Ernani or Nabucco.

Henry Holland said...

Are you sure that DOMINGO will leave?

His contract is up in 2013, he'll be 72-ish, I think he's a goner in the summer of 2013. He only helped create the mess LAO is in, why stick around to clean it up? (see also: Washington National Opera).

Of course, he could be immortal and he'll sign a 20 year contract just to torment me. :-)

Lisa Hirsch said...

That makes sense. :)

Henry Holland said...

So let's do a compare and contrast!

LAO v. Nederlandse Oper in Amsterdam:

The NO 2012/13 season:

Der Schatzgräber

Let me repeat that:


Written on Skin (the new George Benjamin opera)

Ringetje (sort of an acted out mini-Ring, sounds very odd)

Das Rheingold

Die Zauberflöte

Einstein on the Beach

Guillaume Tell

L’amour des trois oranges

Die Walküre

La traviata

Sunken Garden (new Michel van der Aa opera)

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Death in Venice (with the excellent John Graham Hall and with Deborah Warner's awesome ENO production)

Sadly, I'll have to miss the Schreker due to $$ issues, but the Britten is a definitely possibility for a leave Thursday > back on Monday trip of opera/debauchery in Amsterdam > The Hague.

Ah, new anti-spam software. Not a big fan of this the words are hard to read with that black square.

Lisa Hirsch said...

The Captcha change appears to be Blogger-wide and to have gone into effect today. %^) Sorry!

Lisa Hirsch said...

Okay, forgot to confirm: The NO season is fantastic. And not up on Operabase yet. :)