Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

10 Questions for...
Elijah Moshinsky

February 01, 2012


Directing opera is a special talent. Success in other fields, including theater, is no guarantee of success in this one, and you can look at a long list of “celebrity” directors recently recruited for new productions at big opera houses for a litany of those who have failed to deliver on hype. Which is why it’s always exciting to see the name Elijah Moshinsky associated with an opera production. There are few directors working in opera with as long and as well regarded a career as Moshinksy, who’ll return to Los Angeles Opera this month to direct his production of Simon Boccanegra for the company starring tenor Placido Domingo in the title role under the musical direction of James Conlon. Moshinsky’s productions are familiar sights on most of the world’s biggest opera stages including The Metropolitan Opera and The Royal Opera House in London. And after over two decades in the business, his colorful, straightforward, and direct stagings are typically favorites wherever they are seen. A substantial number of these have been filmed for video including his Nabucco and Ariadne auf Naxos for the Met to name just two. Luckily, he took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down for the OWA 10 Questions.
  1. What opera would you most like to direct, but haven’t yet?

    Fidelio or Moses und Aron

  2. What opera would you never want to direct even if you had the opportunity to?

    Wagner's Ring Cycle

  3. What’s the best thing about working with singing-actors as opposed to the non-operatic variety?

    The best is the discipline and emotional creativity of singers,the worst is dealing with those singers who have a natural voice and make no effort to engage dramatically.

Domingo as Simon Boccanegra Photo: Catherine Ashmore/ROH

  1. You’ll return to Los Angeles Opera for a revival of your production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. What’s so special about this particular opera for you?

    It is a profound opera which mixes the personal and the political. At the end of the piece we feel we have experienced the whole span of a life. We are aware of a terrible destiny and tragedy.

  2. You’ve worked with most of the world’s greatest opera stars for decades and will again work with Placido Domingo in the title role of Simon Boccanegra. Who in the opera world, either onstage or off, would you like to work with that you haven’t yet?

    Maria Callas

  3. Which music made you want to direct opera?

    Kathleen Ferrier singing "What is Life" by Gluck

  4. What’s been your greatest achievement to date in the world of opera?

    I survived Muti

  5. Your iPod is destroyed by a vengeful mezzo. Which lost tracks would you miss most?

    Kempe conducting Meistersinger

  6. What's your current obsession?

    Simon Boccanegra

  7. With which opera character do you have the most in common?

    Hans Sachs


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