Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

In the Wings - May '12

May 08, 2012

From Anne LeBaron's Crescent City Photo: Dana Ross 2012
Four operas will dominate L.A.’s performance landscape over the next month, each as wildly different in its inception as the next. If you have any interest in opera, or think you should have one, there is absolutely something that will likely turn your head this month. Let’s start with perhaps the most traditional offering, Puccini’s La Bohème which will return to L.A. Opera for the 6th revival of Herbert Ross' production starting May 12 with a bevy of young stars including Stephen Costello, Ailyn Perez, and Janai Brugger. Meanwhile across the street, the L.A. Philharmonic will present Mozart’s Don Giovanni under Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, who will continue his ongoing onstage education about the most standard of operas. Mariusz Kwiecien will take the title role for all four performances starting May 18. On the less conventional side, Long Beach Opera will take their undoubtedly different stab at Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar for two performances on the 20th and 26th. But perhaps the most unexpected and anticipated opera event will be the hugely ambitious staging of Anne LeBaron’s Crescent City by the start up company, The Industry LA at Atwater Crossing on the 10th, which you can read more about in my preview of the show.

The other big event this month will be the world premiere of the new oratorio/opera from John Adams, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, which will again take place under Gustavo Dudamel with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It looks to be an immensely challenging piece in that the company announced late last week that the preparations are such a concern to Dudamel that he won’t be able to participate in the “Green Umbrella” New Music program the orchestra is presenting a full 23 days before on May 9 that includes a world premiere percussion concerto by L.A. Phil principal timpanist Joseph Pereira. Dudamel will also lead a smattering of two different mostly Mozart programs in the interim.

Alsan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic Photo: Chris Lee
There is plenty of other music to hear. On top of that pile would be the next program for L.A.’s adventurous wildUp chamber orchestra, which will consider themes military and otherwise on the 12th at the Pasadena Armory. The Formalist Quartet will give a concert celebrating their 5th anniversary on Feb 26 as part of the continuing music series at Beyond Baroque in Venice. For some more established new(ish) music, the place to be will be Santa Monica where Jacaranda will wrap up there current season with a California-based program including works of Terry Riley and Lou Harrison on the 20th. The Southwest Chamber Music 25th Anniversary season will wrap up this month as well with four performances as part of what they're billing as their first L.A. International New Music Festival, which takes place on the 9th, 12th, 24th and 26th at Zipper Concert Hall with programs that take "new" as some time within the last seventy years and composers who may well be international, though only rarely from L.A. The newfound Los Angeles Trombone Collective will give a concert of new works specifically for their unique corner of the musical world at the wulf on the 19th. Pianist Mark Robson will revisit works for the left hand at a recital at Boston Court in Pasadena on the 18th. Camerata Pacifica will wrap up their season as well with Beethoven, Heggie and Mozart in L.A. County on the 10th and the 16th. The always-interesting Brad Mehldau Trio will be at The Broad Stage on May 21. And lest I forget there are two very big musical out of town guests to remember this month. The New York Philharmonic and their music director Alan Gilbert will bring Magnus Lindberg’s new Piano Concerto for Yefim Bronfman to the Walt Disney Concert Hall on the 9th after performances of a different program with Beethoven and Debussy on offer in Orange County with the Philharmonic Society on the 8th. And the legendary Elaine Stritch will bring her one woman Sondheim show to L.A. on the 19th.

Elaine Paige in Follies Photo: Craig Schwartz/CTG 2012
Theater-wise, I should first remind you that you absolutely must see the Tony-nominated production of Sondheim’s Follies, which is now running at the Ahmanson Theater if you do nothing else this month. Center Theater Group will also open a world-premiere musical from Michael John LaChiusa at the Mark Taper Forum on the 23rd entitle Los Otros. In San Diego, the Old Globe currently is offering Kander and Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys while just a hop away the La Jolla Playhouse will soon open the world premiere musical Hands on a Hardbody (which is currently in previews) with a book by Doug Wright. Pasadena’s Theater at Boston Court will open with a world premiere play The Children by Michael Elyanow on the 3rd. Meanwhile, South Coast Repertory will go with the more tested Jitney by August Wilson starting on the 11th. REDCAT will be offering a number of interesting programs this month including Cold Dream Color, a new dance work from Arcan Collective on the 16th. And with all of this, you won’t want to miss the exclamation mark on American culture, Sandra Bernhard, who’ll bring her new show Sandrology to REDCAT starting on the 30th. And by that point June will be on the horizon including the 2012 edition of the Ojai Music Festival which will be led by Leif Ove Andsnes this year and will kick off on June 7th with the West Coast Premier of John Luther Adams Inuksuit. Stay tuned for a full preview.


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