Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

2010 - The Good Parts 1

December 17, 2010


As you may have noticed, I’ve been out of commission a lot over the last two weeks for reasons I am certain that you really do not want to hear about. The worst of these tribulations, however, has resulted in my eighty-sixing my New York sojourn this December, so I will not have the originally promised coverage of a number of items including the Met Opera’s revival of Pelléas et Mélisande under the guidance of Simon Rattle. So instead, over the next few weeks I’m going to highlight some of the best and worst of 2010 leading up to the Out West Arts top ten music and theater events of the year. To kick things off, I’d like to highlight two of the more notable DVD releases of this past year, both from Los Angeles Opera. The company has had a huge year artistically, although admittedly not without its controversies. One of the more notable fruits of their recent labors are a pair of DVD’s produced as part of music director James Conlon’s “Recovered Voices” series. Conlon has helmed several productions of operas from composers adversely affected by Germany’s Third Reic,h and two of these shows have made it to video for those of you who may have missed them.

First is a 2008 double bill featuring Viktor Ullmann’s brief comedy Der zerbrochene Krug and Alexander Zemlinsky’s far more substantial Der Zwerg. The latter features outstanding performances from Rodrick Dixon and Mary Dunleavy in a striking and quite affecting production inspired by Diego Velazquez’ Las Meninas. Conlon’s advocacy for Zemlinsky’s score is evident, and this is an excellent addition to the available recordings of the composer’s work. The other “Recovered Voices” project now out on DVD is a 2009 production of Walter Braunfels’ Die Vögel. Another operatic rarity, Braunfels’ fable proves to be musically substantial under Conlon’s attention, and the performance features a rising-star in Brandon Jovanovich. Like Der Zwerg, the production is directed by Darko Tresnjak, but this time around he is markedly less successful. Hampered by the steeply raked set for the concurrently running production of Achim Freyer’s vision of Wagner’s Ring cycle, Tresnjak creates a rather cloying, kitschy world for his mythological characters. Still, this is beautifully played and such a rarity is worth owning even if not in an ideal staging.

Labels: ,


So sorry to hear that you missed out on Pelleas in NYC. I'm literally on an airplane at this moment en route from the Grand Tier. The opera was quite mystifying and atmospheric... it reminded me of the tense and haunting quality of, for example, Turn of the Screw. Rattle's conducting gave great shape and color to the florid, heaving score - indeed, some of the musical highlights were the 'in between' moments, scene-settings, etcetera. And the vocal performances were lovely... but what a strange and unsettling evening!

Fanciulla was quite fun (Voigt and Giordani have great chemistry) and Don Carlo was so exquisite. Simon Keenslyside - what a hunk of beef.
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