Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

In The Wings - April '10

March 31, 2010

from LA Opera's new production of Götterdämmerung
Photo: Monika Rittershaus/LAO 2010

It’s April and things are starting to heat up in Los Angeles with some highly anticipated performing arts events. If you’ve been saving up for something to do, now is the time to do it because the selections this month may be some of the best bets this year. Personally, I’m most excited about the two productions from L.A. Opera that will open this month – the final installment in Wagner’s Ring cycle, Götterdämmerung on the 3rd and the first Franz Schreker opera ever staged in the U.S., Die Gezeichneten on the 10th. You can read more about them and the upcoming Achim Freyer directed Ring cycle presentation in my preview. What more opera could you want? Well you’ll have to go out of town for it, but Dallas Opera will present the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s latest work Moby-Dick starring Ben Heppner on the 30th in this adaptation of Melville’s classic novel. But Texas is a big place, and I’ll also be heading over to Houston to see Vladimir Galouzine in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades and an all-star production of Handel’s Xerxes with Susan Graham and David Daniels. In New York, the Metropolitan Opera will also open up a new production of Rossini’s Armida which will serve as yet another star vehicle for soprano Renée Fleming.

Jeroen Willems in Louis Andriessen's La Commedia in 2008
Photo: Hans van den Bogaard 2008

Outside of the opera house, the most exciting music event this month will undoubtedly be the local premiere of Louis Andriessen's most recent opera La Commedia at the Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the “Green Umbrella” music series on the 13th. The evening will feature the same cast and musical ensembles from the Amsterdam premiere of the work in 2008 under conductor Reinbert de Leeuw. This was spectacular last time and should not be missed by anyone with even a passing interest in new music. And speaking of contemporary music, the Monday Evening Concert series will also present a notable show with the local premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas’ third string quartet, In iij. Noct., performed in complete darkness. There will be two performances on the 19th and 20th in Pasadena. If you want a bigger ensemble, of course, there is the L.A. Philharmonic whose most interesting April program will feature the music and conducting of composer Thomas Adès,who returns to L.A. starting on the 8th with his Violin Concerto. The ensemble will also appear with Music Director Gustavo Dudamel who will kick off the “Americans and Americas” festival with a program featuring Bernstein and Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs on the 22nd as well as a show with Copland and Estévez’ Cantata Criolla on the weekend of the 29th. However, the most important show of the series on paper will be the one Dudamel is not leading on the 24th and 25th of the month when the festival will feature performances of Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasión según San Marcos.

There are other important music events to consider. Semyon Bychkov will lead Mahler's 5th Symphony this weekend starting on the 1st with the L.A. Philharmonic. We will have important out-of-town guests when the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra arrives on the 14th playing Mozart and Stravinsky with Gil Shaham. And the always adventurous L.A. Master Chorale will perform an evening of the works of Arvo Pärt and Meredith Monk on the 11th. Looking for something more intimate? There are solo recitals galore from Emanuel Ax at WDCH on the 20th, tenor Alek Shrader on the 11th at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, and a rare performance at REDCAT by Michiko Hirayama performing Scelsi's Canti del Capricorno on the 2nd.

Brad Fleischer and Arian Moayed in the 2009 production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Photo: Craig Schwartz/CTG 2009

Admittedly, this is a weak month for me in terms of non-music theater events, but there are a couple of local offerings worth mentioning in terms of new plays around town. Most important is the Mark Taper Forum's revival of the superb Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph. It was one of the highlights of all my theater experiences in 2009 and deserves to be seen by a much, much bigger audience. The Kirk Douglas Theater is currently in the middle of a run of the latest work from Lisa Kron entitled The Wake. Meanwhile South Coast Repertory will present the newest play from one of my favorite contemporary authors, Julia Cho when The Language Archive opens this week. And speaking of Kron, her recent play Well is one I'll see on a quick trip to Ashland, OR this month along with Lynn Nottage's Ruined. And before I forget John Jasperse Company and ICE will be at REDCAT with a West Coast Premiere dance piece the week of the 14th. That should about cover it. Have a great April.



I've seen the Ades twice in concert now: two different violinists, two different orchestras. Spectacularly beautiful piece, too.

I'm pretty sure there was a concert performance of Der ferne Klang in NYC a couple of years back, maybe by the ASO, so Gezeichniten is not the first US performance of a Schreker opera. I may come down for the last weekend of Gez. and Gotterdammerung.
Here's Tommasini's Times review of the ASO performance. The LA run looks like the first fully-staged Schreker in the U.S.
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