Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Heisser Sommer, in diesem Jahr...

May 05, 2007

from Heisser Sommer 1968

Well it’s the first weekend in May and here in LA that means only one thing: Summer has officially started. We in Southern California have an altered sense of time to begin with and since we don’t have actual weather markers to distinguish seasons, Summer typically runs from the release of the first heavily marketed Hollywood action flick (this year Spiderman 3) to Halloween when the end of Daylight Savings Time forces us to at least pretend that it is Fall. While many of us will head to the seaside cooperative farm (not unlike the spirited East German youth in Heisser Sommer), those of us who can’t stand all the nasty grit in our hair and clothes have plenty of other options both locally or out of town. I have just finished updating the “Later” column here at OWA with my own summer arts schedule, and you can check out the details for any of the following highlights and other events using the links there.

May will include the final shows of the LA Philharmonic season. Not to be outdone by James Conlon’s “Recovered Voices” Project at LA Opera focusing on composers suppressed by the Third Reich, the LA Phil has decided to go with one of the 20th century's other horrific totalitarian regimes – the USSR under Stalin. “Shadow of Stalin” will include music from Prokofiev, Gubaidulina, Ligeti, Lutoslawski, Mosolov, Popov, and Shostakovich (of course). Mixed in with this light-hearted fare will be Dawn Upshaw’s return to the local concert stage in songs by Golijov and Foss and two local performances by the touring Philadelphia Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach.

from Heisser Sommer 1968

June will bring this year’s Ojai Music Festival, which will focus on the music of Peter Eötvös and the magnificent playing of Pierre-Laurent Aimard. The opera front will have a number of worthwhile events including LA Opera’s final production this season of Torroba’s Luisa Fernanda starring Placido Domingo. LA Opera will also be jumping into the radio broadcast bandwagon next weekend (May 12) when KUSC begins broadcasting performances from LA Opera this season. San Francisco Opera will also definitely be worth a trip when they mount Gluck’s Iphingénie en Tauride with Susan Graham and Paul Groves in the Chicago Lyric Opera staging and a revival of Der Rosenkavalier with a top drawer cast including Soile Isokoski’s Marschallin to Joyce DiDonato’s Octavian and Miah Persson’s Sophie.

Summer is nothing without a little traveling and this year I’m off to London and Munich, which I have posted about before here. I’m most looking forward to getting to hear Charles Mackerras conduct Janácek’s Káta Kabanová at Covent Garden and Dawn Upshaw finally getting her chance to perform Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone at the Barbican. I'm planning to also make it out to Glyndebourne for the premiere of their new staged version of JS Bach's St. Matthew Passion and will take in ENO's staging of Kismet with Michael Ball and Faith Prince. Munich will feature the world premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland led by LA Opera alum, Kent Nagano who will also be leading performances of Bayerische Staatsoper’s new productions of Salome and Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina from earlier this season.

from Heisser Sommer 1968

August means it’s off to Santa Fe Opera and the beautiful desert southwest. Although this year's festival is lean in the big name vocalist department, it will feature performances of Strauss’ rarely staged Daphne, the US Premiere of Tan Dun’s Tea: A Mirror of Soul, and a reformatted Platée - one of my highlights of 2006 from Paris and the mind of Laurent Pelly. Late August will also feature my annual visit to Ashland, Oregon for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in it’s last year under the leadership of Libby Appel before Southern California’s own Bill Rauch takes over the reigns next year. He will direct Romeo and Juliet for the Elizabethan Stage this summer in a season that will also include Tartuffe, On the Razzle, The Taming of the Shrew and my favorite The Tempest.

Back in LA, September means there are still two months of heat to go, and the Hollywood Bowl will feature Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the LA Philharmonic. Performances are scheduled to include his own Foreign Bodies and a concert performance of Boris Godunov with an excellent Russian cast including Michail Kit. Also on the stage of the Bowl will be Rufus Wainwright in his Judy Garland tribute show imported to the West Coast from New York. By that time, however, even though the summer lingers on, the new opera and music season will soon be underway and it will be time to talk of new plans. Heisser Sommer, wie wunderbar!

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