Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Another Hollywood(y) Moment

June 23, 2007

By now, the news of LA Opera’s recruitment of Woody Allen to direct a new production of Gianni Schicchi for a 07/08 season opening Il Trittico has been widely reported. The press release also notes that long-time LA Opera collaborator William Friedkin will do the chores for the other two parts of the trilogy which is only appropriate given that he is the source of the company’s 2002 staging of Schicchi which was then paired with Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. I’m all for this cross-pollination and am interested to see what does, or doesn’t, come out of the collaboration. I do have one criticism already, though. They seem to have selected the wrong opera for Allen to direct. Sure he will always be remembered for his brilliant film comedies. But face it, he hasn’t made one of those in well over a decade or more. As the lion has entered winter, his strength has been his often unfairly-maligned dramas, particularly Crimes and Misdemeanors and the recent Match Point. If anything, I think it would be far more interesting to see his take on Il tabarro, where the older husband slays his wife’s younger lover in a fit of jealous rage. Now there is something Allen could sink his teeth into. What could he possibly add to Schicchi at this point?

Thus, LA Opera continues its forays into recruiting major film directors and artists into the opera world - and good for them. Of course Allen is about as far from mainstream Hollywood as you can get, but the point remains the same. Of course some will grouse about how bad all this outside influence will be on opera, but I say it is about time. If the glamorization of American opera with composers and artists from other fields and performers with talents above and beyond their vocal skills will be the death of opera, so be it. I just hope they finish the job before I have to sit through another wretched Lotfi Mansouri or Franco Zeffirelli nightmare.

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