Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Passing it on

May 17, 2008

Jon Fosse

Georg Friedrich Haas

I was recently tagged by Peter Matthews on his most-excellent Feast of Music as part of a meme involving books, pages, sentences and the like. While I usually refrain from this sort of activity on constitutional grounds, I did happen to glance next to me and, finding the first book consisting of more than 100 pages, I noticed a bit of synchronicity. The indicated passage is this:
Do you know how old your girlfriend is? he says. Hm? Do You?
I look down at my suitcase.
Any takers? It’s from Melancholy by Jon Fosse. A novel that I’m reading in part due to my upcoming summer European excursion where the novel will serve as the inspiration for a new opera from Georg Friedrich Haas, Melancholia, with a libretto from the author that will premiere at the Palais Garnier on June 9. The synchronicity part is that many of the same things I will be taking in on this trip in June are apparently also on Peter’s agenda for his upcoming trip to Paris and Amsterdam just two weeks before mine. A coincidence to be sure though certainly not an ironic one. Great minds think alike.

I too am scheduled to see many of the operatic offerings in Paris and Amsterdam in early June including Warlikowski’s nursing-home themed Iphigénie en Tauride with the incomparable Mirelle Delunsch et Stephane Dégout, De Nederlandse Opera’s Saint Francois d’Assise with Rod Gilfrey, and the revival of I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Joyce DiDonato. (As fate would have it though, my later arrival results in my seeing one of the Netrebko-less performances of this last offering which is substantially offset by the presence of the lovely and sadly underrated Patrizia Ciofi.)

Peter and my roads diverge in the European operatic woods at this point and my agenda carries on with other items. In Amsterdam, this will include the world premiere of Louis Andriessen’s new opera La Commedia based on Dante’s Inferno starring the genre defying Cristina Zavalloni in a production directed by American independent film legend Hal Hartley. I will also see two Don Carlos, the first in Paris with James Morris and Dimitri Hvorostovsky and the second in Vienna with Thomas Hampson and René Pape. Yes, I know it’s probably unwise of me to be in Vienna in the midst of the European soccer championship series in June, but it’s Verdi time there as well, and I’m also scheduled to see I vespri Siciliani with Sondra Radvanovsky and Leo Nucci and David Pountney's new cowboy-fashion-runway take on La Forza del Destino with Nina Stemme, Salvatore Licitra, and Carlos Alvarez. Just in case you think I’m all work and no play, however, Vienna will also include Strauss’ Capriccio starring Renée Fleming, Bo Skovhus, Michael Schade, Angelika Kirchschlager, and Franz Hawlata. Of course, best of all, hopefully little of this will be weighted down with period costumes, "being transported", or the need to respect the integrity of the original work. Regietheater, here I come.

Tomorrow I’ll follow up with some of the summer’s big attractions state side. Further details for all events can be found on the left.


Damn, that's a lot of interesting stuff you'll be hearing soon. Not the Italian stuff, of course, but the GF Haas opera looks quite interesting on paper, it would be interesting to hear if Rod(ney) Gilfrey has the voice for Saint Francoise and the Andriessen looks interesting too.
Thanks for the kind words, Brian. Tony Tommassini scooped me on the Paris Opera/City Opera angle last month, but at least I still have Messiaen to write about... I'll do my best to post from over there, in case you're looking for a preview.
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