Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Catching Up

February 17, 2007

Jeanne Sakata as Maria Callas
Photo: East West Players 2007
I feel neglectful of my blog duties this week, which is in part due to my trying to catch up on some movies and the sordid matter of gainful employment that runs this machine. There have been a number of events worth mentioning that haven't gotten their due. I saw East-West Players current production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class with Jeanne Sakata as Callas last Saturday. A good production to be sure and I think Sakata pulls off the role but I felt the production still looked a little cheap particularly in the wig and costume department which is always distracting if you're down front. The internal monologues came off as rushed and stiff, but the humor was largely intact.

Over at the Pasadena Playhouse, there was the West Coast premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s Defiance with the uber-sexy Kevin Kilner as Col. Littlefield. I admire Shanley’s effort to produce plays about serious moral and philosophical concepts but this work isn’t as emotionally engaging as Doubt and what’s at stake for the characters in Defiance seems confused and less risky in many ways.
Christopf von Dohnányi with the LA Phil
Photo: Axel Koester/The New York Times 2007
My disatisfaction may result from some particularly rocky southern accents, but I suspect it’s more than that.

I’ll be in New York this weekend for some operas but before leaving town I did get to see Christoph von Dohnányi conduct the LA Philharmonic on Thursday in Brahms’ 1st and 3rd Symphonies as part of a “Brahms Cycle” over the next two weeks. These interpretations were lively and not overly sentimental. The audience seemed very enthusiastic despite being particularly noisy. Even New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini was there (probably in town for the Mahagonny across the street, which isn't fairing well in the press, though I won't see until next week) and threw more ink at the LA Phil event than even the LA Times has as of yet.

Anyway, look for updates from New York in the next days. Happy Presidents Day!

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