Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

In the Wings - November 09

November 01, 2009

Pianist and Conductor Marino Formenti

November is the month where Los Angeles finally works itself into a frothy lather of live performance excitement. The world-class vocal music alone is reason to stay in town this month. Los Angeles Opera will offer two highly anticipated events. Placido Domingo himself will return to star in five performances of Handel’s Tamerlano starting on the 21st in a production borrowed from Washington National Opera with an excellent supporting cast. (One admittedly I was not too enamored with myself two years ago.) And quickly following on those heels will be a revival of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia on the 29th. I know, I know. It’s not the most exciting piece of music, but its got just about the best cast in the world with Juan Diego Florez, Joyce DiDonato, and Nathan Gunn. The two former stars have appeared all over the world in these roles and if their appearances in London in this opera in July are any indication, this may be the best opera to grace the West Coast all year. Speaking of JDF, he’ll be doing a solo recital at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica on the 3rd as well.

Juan Diego Florez in Barbiere
Photo: Javier del Real

As for less operatic vocal works there are four other high priorities here in L.A. this month. Two involve the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, who will have his way with Verdi’s Requiem for four performances starting on the 5th and then will hopefully stay out of the way of the unparalleled Dawn Upshaw in Berio’s Folk Songs at the Walt Disney Concert Hall the next weekend. Perhaps the most stealth event of the month, though, will be a performance by the USC Thornton School’s Symphony and Choir of Bach’s Mass in B Minor under none other than Helmuth Rilling on the 13th. Get this - it’s FREE for students, staff, and faculty and under 20 dollars for everyone else at USC’s Bovard Auditorium. Need more Baroque? (And who doesn’t.) Don’t forget the all Purcell evening from San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra on the 11th at WDCH with Susan Graham, Cyndia Sieden, and Jill Grove.

The other major “classical” music event this month will be the kick off of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “West Coast, Left Coast” Festival on the 21st at WDCH. The program, which runs for a little over two weeks, is under the guidance of composer John Adams and will look at California’s influence on contemporary classical music. Included in the programming will be worthwhile shows from other organizations around town starting as early as the 11th with a "re-interpretation" of Parades and Changes from Anna Halprin, Anne Collod, and Morton Subotnick at REDCAT downtown. The festival will also include offerings from the Los Angeles Master Chorale on the 22nd and Jacaranda on the 14th. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Dudamel will lead the über-hot Marino Formenti in Lou Harrison’s Piano Concerto on a program with Esa-Pekka Salonen’s LA Variations and Adams’ own City Noir. Then on the 30th the stars of L.A.’s own Piano Spheres, including Vicki Ray, Gloria Cheng, Susan Svrcek, and Mark Robson, will cross the street from the Zipper Auditorium to WDCH for their own brand of limit-pushing keyboard performance. Outside of the festival, the L.A. Philharmonic will also host Gil Shaham under Dudamel in the Berg Violin Concerto the weekend of the 19th, and, if you can tolerate all the Brahms, the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle will appear on the 24th and 25th.

from DV8 Physical Theater's To Be Straight With You
Photo: Tristram Kenton 2009

On the theater scene there are plenty of great local offerings from The Fountain Theater’s production of Conor McPherson’s Shining City to the Blank Theater’s new production of David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries, which opens on the 20th. But there are many highly anticipated visitors in town this month as well. UCLA Live’s International Theater Festival will bring Ontroerend Goed to town with the lengthy titled Once and For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen on the 4th, and Ireland’s Druid Theater performing Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce on the 11th. The following week on the 18th they’ll also host Poland’s TR Warszawa troupe in a performance of T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T. Not to be outdone, the Broad Stage will also enter the theater racket this month by hosting the Globe Theater on the 19th in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. There's also a notable dance event on the 6th and 7th at UCLA from DV8 Physical Theater entitled To Be Straight With You. And lest you forget, New York's own diva extraordinaire, Joey Arias, will bring his fabulous collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist, Arias with a Twist across the country to REDCAT starting on the 18th.

Scene from Patrice Chereau's production of From the House of the Dead
Photo: Rob Ribas

That’s probably more than enough, but I must admit that I’m most excited about my New York and Chicago jaunt just prior to Thanksgiving that will include two opera masterpieces from Leos Janacek - From the House of the Dead at the Metropolitan Opera and Katya Kabanova in Chicago with none other than Karita Mattila. The weekend will also include a hopefully gaudy/fabulous Turandot, Chicago’s current run of Ernani with Sondra Radvanovsky, and the U.S. premiere of a concert version of Philip Glass’ latest theater work Kepler at BAM. I’ll also take a look at the fortunes of the coming Broadway musical adaptation of The Addams Family with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth while I’m in the windy city as well. That should cover it. Unless of course you want to do some slumming, and there’s always Kathy Griffin at the Gibson Amphitheater on the 28th.



Best cast in the world--minus Nathan Gunn. What a hack. I "heard" his Figaro in SF, which was barely audible.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?



Opera Reviews '10-'11

Opera Reviews '09-'10

Opera Reviews '06-'09

L.A. Phil Reviews '09/'10

L.A. Phil Reviews '08/'09

L.A. Theater Reviews


Follow Along


Los Angeles

Follow me on Twitter