Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Weekend Update II

September 26, 2006

Paterson with Villazon and Netrebko in rehersal. Photo: Jamie Rector/LA Times 2006

It happens a few times a year - a weekend (typically in the fall) where there are so many worthwhile performance events going on that it becomes impossible to do everything. This year, that weekend is immediately on the horizon. While I will get to see some highlights including the abridged but well-reviewed production of The Peony Pavillion now touring the West Coast and the opening concerts of the LA Phil season with Salonen conducting Mahler's Third, there are just as many events I will miss. (Michelle DeYoung will be filling in for the greatly missed Ms. Hunt Lieberson in these performances which will be dedicated to her memory.)

Sticking most in my craw is having to miss the Long Beach Opera's "No Mozart" show, honoring the composer's anniversary year by featuring none of his music but three works by Nyman, Andriessen, and Part about Mozart and his legacy. I do love modern music and am sorry to miss this, but decisions must be made.

Also this weekend is the opening of LA Opera's much-anticipated new production of Manon directed by choreographer Vincent Paterson with Plácido Domingo conducting and featuring the Jana of Ms. Netrebko to the Zan of Mr. Villazón. (You can check out podcasts from the director and stars here.) Lewis Segal has a teaser/promo in tomorrow's LA Times, and by his account this sounds like a doozy. Updated to 1950s Paris, Manon becomes a young wannabe starlette who alternatively makes herself up to look like Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn. Paterson is quoted as wanting to emphasize "physicality" and also notes he has cut 20 to 30 minutes from the piece to help "focus" on the primary interaction between Manon and Des Grieux. While there is no doubt that this runs the risk of a huge disaster, I live for this stuff and I can't wait to see it. Unfortunately, since I'm headed off to the OC's Ring cycle, it's going to have to wait until later in the run.

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