Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

In the Wings - Dec '11

December 03, 2011

Photo: Clive Barda
December brings its usual combination of holiday fare to Los Angeles stages this month. But even if you’re not in a holiday mood, there are plenty of things to choose from in town. Probably the one must see show is the latest appearance of Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic this weekend where he’ll lead a cast of exciting young singers such as Ryan McKinny, Eugene Brancoveanu, Timur Bekbosunov, and Michael Fabiano in the world premiere of the recently discovered fragments of Shostakovich’s abandoned opera Orango with a completed orchestral score by Gerard McBurney. This will be paired with Shostakovich’s 4th Symphony and will also mark the return of Salonen’s friend and theatrical collaborator Peter Sellars to the WDCH. There are a number of other good shows this month as well from the Los Angeles Philharmonic including a Mozart program led by Bernard Labadie the weekend of the 16th. And if you need your end of the year Messiah fix there are two excellent choices: the Los Angeles Master Chorale will perform it with your assistance on the 12th or without on the 18th, or you could hear the recently Grammy-nominated Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra give their version on either the 13th or 14th.

Ludovic Morlot Photo: Sussie Ahlburg
And there’s one more out-of-town guest you won’t want to forget, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will appear on the 10th with Gil Shaham and the recently appointed Seattle Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot in a show to include John Harbison’s Symphony No. 4. There’s other great music in town of course. The Jacaranda Music Series will continue on Dec 2 with a holiday show from Anonymous 4, which will also feature the premiere of a new commission from David Lang. While on the 10th and the 11th, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra will feature an evening of French works inspired by Couperin from Ravel and Thomas Adès. And then there’s the return of the Monday Evening Concert Season on Dec 5 with pieces from Holliger, Cage, and Kurtág’s setting of Beckett.

Sahr Ngaujah in Fela! Photo: Monique Carboni 2009
Of the new theater offering’s this month, the one I’m most excited about is the local premiere of the Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis' musical Fela! on the 13th. The show on the life of artist Fela Kuti comes complete with a live band on stage and was fantastic both in New York and London and promises to be so here as well. There is also two new shows worth considering in San Diego. The Old Globe opens up Some Lovers, a new Burt Bacharach musical written by Spring Awakening’s Steven Sater on the 8th. Meanwhile the La Jolla Playhouse will offer a pre-Broadway run the the latest revival for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. Back in Los Angeles there are plenty of other ongoing productions to catch as well and I’m going to take a look at A Noise Within’s Desire Under the Elms on the 11th and the Olympia Dukakis vehicle Vigil at The Mark Taper Forum on the 17th.

Lenny Henry and cast in The Comedy of Errors Photo: Johan Persson/NT 2011
And just in case you thought the holidays would be slow around here, I’m off to London over the New Year with full reports on the Royal Opera’s revival of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg under Anthony Pappano and another outing of Verdi’s La Traviata with Ermonela Jaho, Stephen Costello, and Paolo Gavanelli. On the theater side there it’s mostly comedies with Graham Linehan’s adaptation of The Ladykillers, the National Theater’s One Man, Two Guvnors in the West End, and the new production of The Comedy Errors at the NT’s Olivier Theater. So have a great month and a Happy Holiday.


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