Thursday brought the opening night of the 2010/2011 Los Angeles Philharmonic season at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It’s the second season under music director Gustavo Dudamel, and while the gala event program was enthusiastically received, it was a decidedly less ambitious evening than the starry first night last year
. That evening was a welcome to Dudamel hyped to the rafters and featuring a Mahler symphony (the 1st) and the world premiere of a new work by a major American composer (John Adams’ City Noir
). But not every season can go for those heights on opening night, and after the drubbing
Dudamel and the orchestra received in the press around the country on their Spring tour, a more standard format for Thursday's occasion was called for with a big star vocalist and crowd-pleasing arias. The star in question on this night was a big one, Juan Diego Flórez, and he did not disappoint, right down to the string of high Cs in “Ah mes amis” in his first encore.
But back to the beginning. The show started a little late, which is not unusual for this kind of event, which was being broadcast on the radio. The first half of the show consisted entirely of Rossini - opera overtures paired with tenor arias. Somewhat comically, a number of people in the audience were thrown off guard by the opening drum roll from the overture to La gazza ladra
. Mistaking it for the start of the National Anthem, pockets of people in both the Terrace and Orchestra sections of the auditorium stood up only to realize seconds later that this was not to be one of those more patriotic evenings and some twittering over the confusion ensued. But Flórez was not far behind and he gave exciting excerpts from La Cenerentola
. Wisely, Dudamel chose to stay out of the way of the night’s biggest asset and let JDF do his thing. The orchestra sounded a little underrehearsed to me, but with Dudamel busy with the Vienna Philharmonic as recently as last weekend, and a whole other program in store in L.A. for the rest of this one
, something is bound to fall through the cracks. (One wonders what shape the Turangalila-symphonie
will be in by next weekend on such a schedule.) Sadly the original program was truncated due to time and one of the three Rossini overture/aria pairings was jettisoned, as Dudamel announced from the stage.
After the break, Flórez and Dudamel returned for a number of Latin songs and two short orchestra works, Moncayo’s Huapango
and Márquez’ Danzón No. 2
. The ever-present “Granada” was on the bill and many in the crowd responded to the well-known songs in this part of the program. Here the orchestra sounded warm, and Dudamel made the most of the dancing rhythms in many of these works. Flórez’ voice seemed a bit drier here in the wake of a bigger and more romantic orchestral sound. He gave the crowd two familiar encores, “Ah mes amis” and “La donna è mobile”, before they were pelted with silver and pink streamers. And with that, another season is underway.
Labels: LA Philharmonic 10/11