Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

In The Wings - June '10

May 28, 2010

Linda Watson and Vitalij Kowaljow in Act III of Die Walküre
Photo: Monika Rittershaus/LAO 2009

Even in the land of the endless summer, there’s something special about that Memorial Day to Labor Day period that sets it apart. And for lovers of live performance, options abound everywhere and don’t always involve being outside. June, of course, is a very big month here in Los Angeles with Los Angeles Opera’s first complete performances of Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen, which begins over Memorial Day Weekend and runs through the 26th. The company has been through a lot to get to this point, including the recent shameful bad mouthing of the production by two of its stars. But honestly, despite it all, it’s a superior and unique production that will continue to be a respected point of reference for years to come. There are thousands of reasons to go and relatively few not to. And even if the cost is an issue, KUSC will be airing local tapings of all four operas on consecutive Saturday mornings starting the 29th. There are also tons of events taking place around town in conjunction with the Ring Festival—from planetarium shows at the Griffith Observatory to four performances of Wagner’s early rarity, Die Feen, which the Los Angeles Lyric Opera will mount at the Pasadena Playhouse starting June 11. On a personal note, for any readers who’ll be attending the Opera America conference in L.A. June 9th -12th, you’ll get a chance to see Out West Arts live and in the flesh when I appear on a panel about the future of journalism. If you’re there, come say hi.

George Benjamin

There’s worthwhile opera up north in San Francisco this month, as well, including that company’s own staging of Wagner’s Die Walküre with Nina Stemme in preparation for their own Ring Cycles in 2011. Also on the bill are Deborah Voigt’s first performances as Minnie in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West and the Patricia Racette-headlining Gounod's Faust, all of which I’ll catch during the weekend of the 18. June also means this year’s Ojai Festival, which I’ll be forced to take an abbreviated visit to this year due to my schedule. On the 12th, however, I will see Eric Huebner play Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus and the local premiere of George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill both on June 12.

With all of this, there’s little time for anything else, but you might want to consider the touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, which will show up at the Ahmanson Theater this month. There are also a few starry classical concerts to keep in mind, as well, including a Christine Brewer recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 1, and an appearance from Leila Josefowicz playing the Adams Violin Concerto in Orange County with the Pacific Symphony on June 5. And last, but never least, is an appearance by Partch, the ensemble dedicated to the ongoing performance of works from the iconoclastic California composer who’ll appear at REDCAT on Wednesday, June 2. So go get your Wagner on and have a great month.


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