Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

In the Wings - July '11

July 02, 2011

Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

It’s July when summer finally settles in around Southern California, which means there is more to do outside than usual. I’ll be spending a fair amount of time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this month at Santa Fe Opera and the concurrently running Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, which I’ll say more about later on. But there’s plenty going on in and around L.A. as well to consider this month. One of the things I’m most anticipating is the upcoming visit from American Ballet Theater who will again come as a guest of Dance at the Music Center starting on July 14. This time around, they’ll have their production of The Bright Stream, a comic opera set on a 1930s farm collective all to the music of Shostakovich. The work was recently revived after years in the dark due to Soviet era repression of it orchestrated by Stalin. The show, which was new to ABTs repertoire this year, was a hit of the New York season and will receive its West Coast Premiere during this run. It's filled with a number of unusual elements for a classical ballet performance including drag and dancing farmers so don't miss it.

Christine Brewer Photo: Christian Steiner

The Hollywood Bowl season gets into full swing this month as well. There is plenty of typically easy-to-swallow programming all month long and the Los Angeles Philharmonic will kick off its classical series on July 12 with two of the genre’s biggest celebrities, Gustavo Dudamel and Lang Lang, who’ll play Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Dudamel will lead a a few other programs after that before getting to one I'd actually recommend on July 17 when he will lead a one night concert performance of Puccini’s Turandot starring Christine Brewer in the title role with the support of the L.A. Phil. My other Bowl pick this month is the return of A.R. Rahman to Los Angeles on the 10th with his Bollywood film scores and other music. Rahman's last Hollywood Bowl visit was one of the most exuberant shows I've seen at the Bowl and this performance promises great things. And if you're looking for a non-music event at the Bowl, Eddie Izzard will reprise his "Stripped" tour on the 20th.

Ben Diskant as Ariel in San Diego Photo: Henry DiRocco/Old Globe 2011

On the theater front, it would be a good time to head down to San Diego where the Old Globe has started its annual Summer Shakespeare Festival with productions of Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest as well as Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus all of which are currently running through September on the Globe's outdoor festival stage. (I've seen the Much Ado already and can tell you it is worth seeing.) Just up the 5 freeway, La Jolla Playhouse will open a new production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt on July 3. Closer to home, The Broad Stage will bring two new shows to town. Anna Deavere Smith will present her latest work, Let Me Down Easy about the healthcare system on July 20. And just the week before that will be The Expert at the Card Table written by and starting guy Hollingworth in the Broad’s Edye Second Stage on the 14th. In addition to this, I plan to check out a new production of Lorca’s Blood Weeding at the Odyssey Theater on the west side and the Rogue Machine ensemble staging of Harrower’s Blackbird on Pico Blvd.

In closing for July, I must admit that originally, I had planned to be out of the country for a couple of weeks this month until I had to change my plans due to some other commitments. One of the things I was most looking forward to on that planed excursion was the premiere performances of Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise at the Bayerische Staatsoper under conductor Kent Nagano with direction from Hermann Nitsch. And now that some rather (fake) bloody video from the show has surfaced as seen above, I’m especially sad about missing out. On the plus side, though, Munich will live stream their recent Calixto Bieito-directed production of Fidelio starring Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Kampe on July 8 for all the wold to see starting at 11AM Pacific Time and 8 PM Central European Time. Needless to say though, there is plenty of local consolation on hand and I'll see you around town.



I am deeply sorry to report that when I heard her last week in the Missa Solemni, Brewer did not sound like someone I'd want to hear in Turandot. Um, she sounded like hell, no bloom at all above the staff and a lot of shrillness there instead.
Perhaps I should add that when I heard her at a later performance, she sounded much better? But I don't really see the Hollywood Bowl as the best venue for Turandot anyway.
Re: the comment above by pjwv.
Not "The Best Venue"? Is Hollywood Bowl "TBV" for anything? Whatever you think "TBV" for Turandot is, should that be the ONLY place to perform Turandot? Just wondering...
MarK: I was making more of an offhand comment about opera outdoors in a casual setting; usually it seems to provide just a fancy soundtrack to a picnic. It's nice for people who enjoy that sort of thing; since I'm only there for the music, I tend to avoid performances where I think both the sound and the audience and the ambience will not be something I like. People can perform whatever they like wherever they like. I live in northern California and have no vested interest in either defending or attacking the Hollywood Bowl. Obviously it is a beloved venue, as shown by your valiant defense of it against a casual remark.
Where do you see "valiant defense"? All i did was ask a couple of questions to clarify what you meant. The first was kind of rhetorical because the answer to it is obvious. Your answer to the second shows that we mostly agree on that one as well. But you still have not answered the third one at all.
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