Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

In the Wings - Sep '11

September 05, 2011

One of Francesca Zambello's set designs for Heart of a Soldier at SF Opera. Photo: Peter Davsion

September. Summer is just getting started in Los Angeles, and so is the performing arts season with a sudden burst of activity in every direction. And near the top of that list is opera that is all around this month. Los Angeles Opera will open its season on Sep 17 with the company’s first performances of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin complete with a largely Russian cast and Slovak baritone Dalibor Jenis in the title role. The following afternoon will bring a return of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte with an all-star cast, including both Ildebrando D’Arcangelo and Aleksandra Kurzak. L.A. Opera music director James Conlon will lead both productions. Meanwhile up in San Francisco, the opera season starts off with Puccini's Turandot starring Irene Theorin on Sep 9, followed by perhaps the most noteworthy arts event in California this fall, the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’ Heart of a Soldier. The work is based on James B. Stewart’s book of the same title recounting the life of Rick Rescoria, a decorated Vietnam veteran whose life ended in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 after having rescued several survivors that day. It’s a big undertaking for the company and enlists the vocal talents of Thomas Hampson in the lead role. Rounding out the month will be Renée Fleming’s return to the bay area in the title role of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia on Sep 23 and Opera San Jose’s season opening of Idomeneo starting Sep 10.

Rosanna Gamson/World Wide

On the theater front, Cal Arts’ REDCAT will host three weeks of the latest and greatest in this year’s installment, the 8th, of the New Original Works Festival starting on September 8. This year’s three-week festival will feature seven acts, each giving three performances. There are some familiar and exciting local names to look for, including the return of Marissa Chibas whose Clara’s Los Angeles will kick off the festival. The second week starting on Sep 15 includes new dance work from local choreographer Rosanna Gamson and her troupe World Wide entitled Layla Means Night. And week three on Sep 22 will feature local favorite Timur Bekbosunov and his band the Dime Museum in collaboration with puppet theater company Tandem. There is so much more, so be sure to check out the REDCAT site for full details and ticket information.

Terence Archie and Desmin Borges in Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Photo: Michael Lamont

Probably the most exciting play to come to Los Angeles in September will be the Geffen Playhouse’s staging of Kristoffer Diaz’ The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. This much talked about 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist set against the back-drop of pro-wrestling will open Sep 8. The Getty Museum will present its annual theater offering this month starting on the 8th with SITI company taking on Euripides' The Trojan Women. As usual, tickets will be hard to come by. San Diego’s Old Globe Theater will launch their fall season with Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show on the 23rd, after weeks of stormy changes in the creative team, to be followed the following week on the 29th with the world premiere of the new play from Matthew Lopez entitled Somewhere where one family’s dreams of stardom met the reality of the filming of West Side Story. Center Theater Group’s big offering for the month after a particularly quiet summer will be a new adult comedy Poor Behavior from Theresa Rebeck, which starts performances on Sep 7.

from Act I of LAO's Eugene Onegin. Photo: Clive Barda

There’s music as well. The Hollywood Bowl rattles to the end of their season this month. The last show on my agenda there features Mozart’s Requiem under the baton of Bramwell Tovey on the 13th with soloists Heidi Stober, Kate Lindsey, Nicholas Phan, and Matthew Rose. Of course if you're looking for something newer, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra will open its season on Sep 24 with a program of Golijov and a new commission by Bermel. In San Francisco, Michael Tilson Thomas is kicking off perhaps the most exciting season of any orchestra in America as well. I’ll catch Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 on the 24th, but I highly recommend you check out their website for some of the great events that will populate the rest of MTT’s year up north. And lest we forget, Gustavo Dudamel will be passioning forward or whatever exactly we’re calling it this year with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on the 27th with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Herbie Hancock. Things get decidedly more interesting from him that weekend on the 30th with the U.S. Premiere of Benzecry’s Rituales Amerinadios, Berlioz and John Adams. Let the music play.



Rick Rescorla's claim to fame is two-fold: he started telling the WTC and Port Authority in the mid-90s that the next attack on the WTC would be from the air, and as a security guy for Morgan Stanley, he developed and put in place an emergency plan that enabled the company to evacuate more than 2000 employees from the WTC with the loss of only 6, one of whom was Rescorla himself. (He'd gone back in to see if anyone was let and got trapped in the collapse.) So...he saved more than a few lives.
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