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Today's News

January 07, 2008


Well, it’s opera season announcement time again – that annual ritual where we all get our hopes up with promises of things that will certainly not come off as planned in the long run. Vainly, those of us who follow such things will hope that the good surprises will outnumber the disappointments. LA Opera threw its hat into the ring today with an 08/09 schedule that contains few surprises given what has been reported in the media over the last year. And while there is still considerable recycling of very recent old material, it is hard to complain about a season that involves five new productions out of a total of nine.

First the bad news. LAO will revive Traviata, Die Zauberflöte, the Robert Wilson Butterly, and Carmen. All but the Mozart have appeared here within the last three years in the same productions. There isn’t too much exciting in the casting here, though the Zauberflöte cast is strong with Nathan Gunn, Joseph Kaiser, Matthias Goerne, and Erin Wall.

Now the good news. The new William Friedkin/Woody Allen Il Trittico will open the season with Sondra Radvanovsky singing Sour Angelica. This will be paired with the US premiere of LAO’s commission of Howard Shore’s The Fly based on the film by David Cronenberg who will act as director for the production with Placido Domingo conducting. It may or may not be a disaster, but it will likely be fun to watch. In 2009, the Recovered Voices project marshaled by James Conlon continues with the US premiere of Walter Braunfels Die Vögel. And just to top things off, LAO will roll out the first two installments of its newly commissioned Achim Freyer Ring cycle, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, with the previously announced cast to include Michelle DeYoung as Fricka, Linda Watson as Brünnhilde, Anja Kampe as Sieglinde, Vitalij Kowaljow as Wotan, Jill Grove as Erde, and Domingo as Siegmund. Music director James Conlon will lead all of the new productions with the exception of The Fly as well as the Zauberflote and Butterfly revivals.

So there you have it. The company continues to move forward, often in a lumbering way but there is something here to look forward to. The company appears to be looking toward many of its beloved regulars in terms of casting and has eschewed big name stars next season with the exception of general manager Mr. Domingo. But no matter how you slice it, next season looks to be more adventurous than the current one.


what does "moving forward" mean here? reviving four warhorses - all seen very recently, some more than once - with mostly mediocre casts? staging yet another disastrous, badly cast world premiere? Putting on a Ring in a glut of new Rings? Only the Trittico and Die Vogel seem remotely worth schlepping down there for.
True. The Fly may not end up being a masterpiece, but it is something new by a composer with a legitimate track record in composing for films - an industry that does mean something here in LA. As for the Ring, LA's Ring already has more going for it in terms of artistic vision with the involvement of Freyer than any other productions in this country in the last two decades. It certainly can't be any worse than the dreadful "American Ring" Francesca Zambello has stuck Washington and now SFO with.
The last 2 decades? Even if Freyer's involvement does promise great "artistic vision", the conductor and listed singers don't - almost without exception a veritable who's who of B-List players - not that most of the other upcoming Rings show any promise on that score either.
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