Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Impossible Happens

LA Opera has a better 2016-17 season than San Francisco Opera.

Main stage:

  • Macbeth, Verdi; Placido Domingo (sigh), Ekaterina Semenchuk/Conlon
  • Akhnaten, Glass; Anthony Roth Costanza in the title role. Matthew Aucoin conducts a PHelim McDermott production
  • Abduction from the Seraglio, Mozart; Aleksandra Kurzak and others/Conlon.
  • Salome, R. Strauss; Conlon/Patricia Racette.
  • Tales of Hoffman, Offenbach. Diana Damrau as the four female leads, Nicolas Teste (her husband) as the four bad guys. He's a good singer, fortunately; unfortunately Placido Domingo conducts and Marta Domingo directs.
  • Tosca, Puccini. S. Rad, Russell Thomas. Conlon conducts.

Also, a semi-staged production of Wonderful Town and off-main productions of The Source, a new score for Nosferatu by Aucoin, and Kamala Sankaram's Thumbprint.

Not-quite-full details after the cut. See the company web site for full details.

 (Sep 17–Oct 16, 2016) — Giuseppe VerdiPlácido Domingo stars as Macbeth with Ekaterina Semenchuk as Lady Macbeth in a new production conducted by James Conlon. LA Opera's first staging of Macbeth since 1987 will be directed by Darko Tresnjak (The Ghost of Versailles, 2015). Costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb, known for her work in such films as Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, will make her operatic debut.
Akhnaten (Nov 5–27, 2016; company premiere) — Philip Glass
Matthew Aucoin, LA Opera’s incoming Artist in Residence, conducts a new co-production with English National Opera, directed by Phelim McDermott and starring countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in the title role.

The Abduction from the Seraglio 
 (Jan 28–Feb 19, 2017) — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
James Conlon conducts LA Opera's first performances in 21 years of Mozart’s comic gem. Set aboard the “Orient Express” in the Roaring Twenties, the production is directed by James Robinson, featuring soprano Aleksandra Kurzak in the leading role of Konstanze.

Salome (Feb 18–March 19, 2017) — Richard Strauss
Soprano Patricia Racette returns to perform the title role in Peter Hall's iconic production, first presented in LA Opera's 1986 inaugural season. James Conlon conducts a cast that also includes baritone Tómas Tómasson as John the Baptist and renowned Wagnerian soprano Gabriele Schnaut in her company debut as Herodias.

The Tales of Hoffmann (March 25–April 15, 2017) — Jacques Offenbach
Superstar soprano Diana Damrau makes her LA Opera debut as all four heroines opposite tenor Vittorio Grigolo as Hoffmann. Plácido Domingo conducts Marta Domingo’s production, last presented in 2002.

Tosca (April 22–May 13, 2017) — Giacomo Puccini
Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky returns as Tosca with tenor Russell Thomas as Cavaradossi and baritone Egils Silins as Scarpia. James Conlon conducts John Caird’s thrilling 2013 production.

SEMI-STAGED CONCERT MUSICAL(at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)
Wonderful Town (Dec 2–4, 2016; company premiere) — Leonard BernsteinKicking off a three-season celebration leading up to the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, LA Opera’s Resident Conductor Grant Gershon conducts three special performances of one of the greatest treasures of Broadway’s Golden Age. (All-star cast to be announced this spring.)

30th BIRTHDAY OPEN HOUSE(at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)
On October 8, 2016, LA Opera will celebrate its 30th birthday by opening its doors and inviting everyone to enjoy the magic of opera. All events will be free to the public. Highlights will include appearances by Plácido Domingo and James Conlon, performances featuring members of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, several additional performances for families, art workshops for children, costume and scenery demonstrations, backstage tours and much more. (Additional details will be announced later in the year.)

The Source (Oct 19–23, 2016; west coast premiere) — Ted HearneThe Source dives into the media hysteria surrounding Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, the Army private at the center of the WikiLeaks scandal. The west coast premiere of The Sourcelaunches a third season of collaborations with Beth Morrison Projects.
Presented at REDCAT (631 W. Second Street, Los Angeles, 90012)
Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (Oct 29 and 31, 2016; premiere)
Matthew Aucoin will create and conduct a new score for director F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent screen classic. The film will be screened as Mr. Aucoin leads a chamber orchestra in live performances of the score—incorporating music by composers of Murnau's time and new music composed by Mr. Aucoin himself.
Presented at the Theatre at Ace Hotel (929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, 90015)
Thumbprint (June 15–18, 2017; west coast premiere) —  Kamala Sankaram
A true story told through Hindustani and European musical influences, Thumbprint  explores the deep family ties and tribal traditions that empowered Mukhtar Mai to become the first female victim of gang rape to bring her attackers to justice in Pakistan.
Presented at REDCAT (631 W. Second Street, Los Angeles, 90012)
Noah’s Flood (May 6, 2017) — Benjamin Britten
James Conlon will conduct two free community performances on May 6, featuring hundreds of students and amateur performers collaborating with LA Opera's professional artists and musicians.
Presented at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (555 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, 90012)


CruzSF said...

I've wanted to see a single singer take on the 4 heroines ever since I learned that was the intent, years ago. For me, Akhanaten and this Hoffmann are travel-worthy events.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I saw Akhnaten when Long Beach Opera did it in 2011, so probably I will skip it. I like Hoffmann; if my schedule permits, maybe I'll catch the last Salome and first Hoffman. I do not love the opera, but I do love Patricia Racette, and she is not exactly a natural for Salome.

CruzSF said...

Racette might not be a natuarl Salome, but she'll probably be a megaforce vocally. I've seen Salome only once, and I would take Racette any day of the week over the singer I heard. (You know the one I mean.)

Lisa Hirsch said...


CruzSF said...

Oh my goodness. I agree with you x 1000.

Anonymous said...

A friend who works in the LA Opera costume shop had told me some weeks ago that Hoffmann with Damrau was on the list. I wondered how we got her and conjectured that it might be a package deal including her husband. Sure enough. All I know about him is from the Pearl Fishers screening last week, which is too small a role to tell much. But at least he has a solid voice.

How interesting the Hoffmann performances are depends crucially on the edition used, and for some reason opera companies treat such information as eyes-only top secret. This is an opera with gigantic, notorious textual issues: unfinished at Offenbach's death and posthumously completed by people ignorant of or indifferent to the drafts he left behind, in a way that completely sabotages the last two acts (Giulietta and the epilogue).

The 1999 critical edition of Michael Kaye and Jean-Christophe Keck addresses all this, and the previous LA Opera production more or less followed that edition. But since then the Domingos have backtracked: in the Washington Opera production of 2001, they returned to the old corrupt version. So I have no idea what we will see.

The omens are mixed: the synopsis that LA Opera has posted for the new season has the Giulietta and Antonia acts reversed, which is almost the hallmark of the corrupt version. On the other hand, in Offenbach's drafts and in Kaye-Keck, Giulietta is a coloratura soprano and eminently singable by the same soprano who sings Olympia and Antonia, whereas in the traditional edition Giulietta is a mezzo. So the critical edition is certainly more appropriate for Damrau. If she knows about this stuff, maybe she'll insist.

God knows, but I'm worried.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Teste was good as Raimondo in our recent Lucia - also a package deal before Damrau took ten weeks off singing - so I think he'll be fine as the four villains.

YES, the issues with the text...! We must have used the corrupt version last time around because I believe we had a mezzo for Giulietta.

Henry Holland said...

The Akhnaten looks interesting, but while I like the Salome production (it was one of the first opera performances I went to), the cast is kind of meh.

And LA Opera still owes me the Die Tote Stadt that was promised as part of the Recovered Voices project.

CruzSF said...

We did have a mezzo Giulietta at SFO. Irene Roberts sang the part. The Antonia act did appear before the Giulietta act, though, so there must more than one way to corrupt the score.

Anonymous said...

It's easy enough to do the acts in the correct order and still use the old version of the music. The reason the acts were traditionally reversed is that the completion of the Giulietta act is musically weak, while the Antonia act is strong -- producers didn't want to end with the weaker act. Of course, the Kaye-Keck Giulietta act is much stronger.

The order of the acts is important to the logic of the piece: Hoffmann is on a downward spiral. In the Olympia act he loses his illusions, in the Antonia act he loses his true love, and in the Giulietta act he loses his soul (symbolized by his reflection). Then in the epilogue he's so drunk he loses the girl for the fourth time. Reversing the acts ruins the overall shape of the piece. I don't understand why Marta and Placido can't see this, but evidently they can't.

The critical edition offers a lot of options for retaining or eliminating the inauthentic but popular parts of the score: the recitatives, "Scintille, Diamant" and the "septet", all not by Offenbach, and for including or omitting the authentic arias for Nicklausse, which the old version ignored. I don't much care whether Scintille Diamant is included or not, but I hate the mezzo Giulietta and the severely truncated final act, which leaves Stella with no lines at all.

Sacto OperaFan said...

Looks like a trip to LA will be in order. Who would have thought the riches will be down south.

Salome - I can't imagine Patricia Racette singing the title role, so even more reason to go and see for myself. I've only heard Racette sing Italian roles. I saw the Hall production in the early 1990s. It was beautiful; much better than the one we saw at SFO recently. Hope the baritone singing the Baptist works out a lot - he appears mostly naked - skimpy loincloth and white body makeup, so not much to hide behind. Looking forward to this one, maybe we can all meet up down there for a drink, pre- or post- performance.

Akhnaten - Never seen this one. Lisa, do you think a trip is worth it? I've not seen any Philip Glass opera.

Hoffmann - I love this opera. Like Cruz, I've been hoping to see a production where one soprano sings the four parts (Stella included). Dessay was supposed to at the SFO performances a few summers ago, but at that point in her career I don't think Olympia was possible. She was a great Antonia though. I've only seen performances which followed the "traditional" order: Olympia, Antonia and then Giulietta - so not opposed to see another cut.