Sunday, February 12, 2017

LA Opera 2017-18

Ooof. LA Opera relapses, has a season with nothing on the main stage that I would attend if I lived down there. List stolen, with thanks, from Opera Tattler. I have added (ms) to indicate the productions staged at the Dorothy Chandler.

September 9-23 2017: Carmen (ms)
October 7-28 2017: The Pearl Fishers (ms)
October 14-November 19 2017: Nabucco (ms)
October 28-31 2017: La Belle et la Bete
November 9-12 2017: Keeril Makan's Persona
January 27- February 18 2018 Bernstein's Candide (ms)
March 10-25 2018: Orpheus and Eurydice (ms)
May 12- 31 2018: Rigoletto (ms)
May 26 2018: Matthew Aucoin's Crossing
June 22-24 2018: Gordon Getty's Usher House and Canterville Ghost

Wow. I mean, what? Two by Bizet, including his greatest hit and a real stinker. I do not get why Pearl Fishers is suddenly popping up at all the majors, and I really hope SF doesn't stage it again. (Give us some Saint-Saens or Massenet or even Gounod's Romeo rather than this turkey.) Carmen has the novelty of a soprano in the title role; these days, it's unusual, but the legendary Emma Calvé was a famous Carmen and so was Regine Crespin. I have no idea how Ana Maria Martinez will do with the part. Orepheus is choreographed as well as staged as an opera.

You should avoid the Getty double bill. Usher House is....not good.

For further horrified thoughts on this, see All is Yar, where Mr. CKDH is sputtering, but reports on an enlightening chat with James Conlon, whom I'd still like to steal.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's pretty depressing. But Orphée et Eurydice is a more significant novelty than you give it credit for.

There are basically three versions of Gluck's Orfeo that can be presented with integrity: the original 90 minute Italian opera with alto castrato in the lead role (nowadays of course, a mezzo or countertenor), the much elaborated 120 minute French opera for haute contre tenor (a voice type cultivated in France in the 18th century but not much otherwise), and Berlioz's compromise between the two, with the keys moved back to the original version so that Pauline Viardot could sing it, and with the orchestration slightly elaborated.

Until very recently, what one usually heard was none of the above, but rather a further compromise consisting of moving Berlioz's version even closer the original, by going back to the Italian text (including translating the parts of the French version that don't exist in the Italian version) and dropping or shortening the extended dance sequences.

Lately there has been a tendency to do the 90 minute Italian original unaltered -- partly I imagine because it's shorter and cheaper. That's what the Met did last time (with David Daniels, although it had been planned for Lorraine H-L). About 20 years ago, Donald Runnicles recorded the unaltered Berlioz version, with Jennifer Larmore and the SF Opera chorus and orchestra, and it was regarded as a great novelty.

It's hard to do the unaltered French version, because hardly any tenors are comfortable with the tessitura. Lately, however, there have been some performances and recordings, probably because the continuing bel canto revival has produced several good Rossini-Bellini tenors who want to try it. Juan Diego Florez, for example, has recorded it. I've never heard it live, but for a while there was a video on a Russian website of a concert performance by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, with a very elegant British tenor named Colin Lee. I thought it was gorgeous, and I'm delighted that LA Opera will do it.

This co-production with Chicago and Hamburg looks really interesting. Bringing in the Joffrey Ballet and the important choreographer John Neumeier means that they intend to do right by all the dancing -- that will certainly be a novelty in my experience. I don't know anything about the tenor, but I don't think anyone would try this if they didn't think they could do it (although I still wish it were Florez, or Colin Lee).

Anonymous said...

Even the one duet from Pearl Fishers that's often performed is not, in my view, very good.

But hey, I really like Candide. Depends which version they do, I suppose.