Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

In the Wings - August 09

August 01, 2009

Natalie Dessay and Saimir Pirgu
Photo: Ken Howard/Santa Fe Opera 2009

The biggest excitement in August is often the arrival of tickets for the new performance season, which kicks off in September. But that doesn’t mean the month is devoid of performances worth seeing even here in the perpetual summer of California. To be honest, though, the highlight of my month will be heading out of town for the Santa Fe Opera Festival starting on the 10th. This year’s highlights include the new Laurent Pelly-directed production of La Traviata starring Natalie Dessay in her first performances as Violetta. Also on the schedule is Gluck’s Alceste with Christine Brewer and Paul Groves, which should be good if for no other reason that it is always a treat to hear Brewer. There are also productions of Don Giovanni and L’Elisir d’Amore with the festival’s typical strong young American casts. And of course there is the world premiere of Paul Moravec’s The Letter with Patricia Racette to consider. Santa Fe isn’t all about opera, however, and I’ll be checking out some of the offerings of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival as well, including a program of works from Australian composer (and violist) Brett Dean.

Composer Eric Whitacre

Back in Los Angeles it will be hot, and we’ll continued to be forced to play outside at the Hollywood Bowl. We won’t be alone however, in that there’s a string of worthwhile visitors scheduled including Depeche Mode, Diana Krall, and of course Liza Minelli. There will be a summertime visit to Walt Disney Concert Hall on the 7th to help hold me over till next L.A. Philharmonic season, however. That evening features a performance of the choral music of Eric Whitacre under his own direction with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.

Theater-wise I’m hoping to catch some of the more notable late summer openings around town including Bruce Norris’ The Pain and the Itch at Boston Court in Pasadena, Ionesco’s The Chairs at Santa Monica’s City Garage, and perhaps most interestingly Adam Bock’s The Receptionist at the Odyssey Theater, which will star the very lovable Meghan Mullaley. So see, even with the heat, it’s not all bad.


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