Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

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December 06, 2006

I love this time of year not so much for the holiday season thing, but more so because it’s around this time that most of the American opera houses start revealing their plans for the next Fall season. Of course, in the end this always turns out to be more promises, promises, but at least we can dream. Most interesting are two tidbits that have been confirmed outside of the rumor mill that is the blogosphere by the reportedly legitimate press.

First, in New York, while some seem to be finding out what we in LA (and Washington) have known for a long time – that conducting is not Mr. Domingo’s strong suit – the Met has gone and confirmed the rumor that has been floating around for weeks: they plan to stage a new production of Glass’ Satyagraha in conjunction with English National Opera to arrive in New York in the Spring of 2008. Good for them. While this apparently has caused some hand-wringing in certain circles (let's just leave it at that), it’s exactly what the doctor ordered to help move this institution into the 20th century (it’s still too early for the move into the 21st, I’m afraid, but we all have to start somewhere). The most interesting piece about this item is the one most overlooked – the production is being developed in conjunction with principals of the avant-garde Improbable theater company. Improbable was last seen here in LA in 2005 in a production of Bloody Mess, probably the most exciting and visceral stage experience I’ve seen in a long time. Let’s put it this way, anyone who can make "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" seem modern, cutting-edge, and full of meaning has figured something out.

Meanwhile, the more exciting item to come to light appears in an on-line exclusive interview with Kaija Saariaho in this month’s Opera News where she tells Arlo McKinnon that Santa Fe Opera has plans to stage the US premiere of Adriana Mater in Summer 2008. Aahhh. Now that is a quality moment. Despite the less than receptive French press this Spring, Adriana Mater was easily one of the best shows I saw this year and I for one can’t wait to get a second chance to hear this beautiful, haunting work about hope and redemption. Plus given that Santa Fe used the original stage design and direction from George Tsypin and Peter Sellars for L’amour de loin a few years back, we may again get to see something close to the original Adriana production. Yet more reasons to visit New Mexico in the summer.

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