Creating Your Own Best Season

‘In the Red and Brown Water’ currently at the Fountain Theatre, is “Not To Be Missed”

How do you choose among the very best? L.A. Opening Nights offers a special service for a special audience. Here you will find bold and expert suggestions on the most promising of world-class L.A. classical music, opera, dance, and theatre events. This brutally short list of recommendations has been painstakingly created by our contributors so you can cut through the myriad of local options and book your own finest evenings well in advance.

Review: ‘The Bald Soprano,’ at the City Garage Theatre thru Dec 23, 2012 (Worth the Risk)

David E. Frank in “The Bald Soprano” at City Garage (Paul M. Rubenstein).

By Charlotte Stoudt
​L.A. Times

It looks like “Mad Men,” but you’d never catch Don Draper at this shindig. The City Garage staging of Eugene Ionesco’s midcentury absurdist farce “The Bald Soprano: A Christmas Anti-Play” has all the ingredients for intoxication but goes down like one of Sally’s Shirley Temples – it’s a classic but lacks a certain kick. This is the world of low-profile sofas, smoking jackets and the screeching charm of the bourgeoisie. Somewhere in the Parisian suburbs READ MORE…


Review: Antoni Wit, Yulianna Avdeeva and the Warsaw Philharmonic at the Soka Performing Arts Center, Nov 7, 2012

Yulianna Avdeeva, winner of the 2010 Chopin Competition in Warsaw.

By Mark Swed
L.A. Times

Once on a flight to Warsaw in the 1990s, when the Polish airline LOT was still trying to get the hang of market economy, I requested a vegetarian meal. For the first course, I was served the same salad of iceberg lettuce and thousand-island dressing as everyone around me. But my hot entrée, I discovered as I peeled away the foil, was another helping of that salad zapped in the microwave. It took a minute or two for the Pole sitting next to me to stop laughing and wipe his tears away, but he then described how fabulous Polish vegetarian cooking could be. He suggested several dishes I try once I landed and told me where to find them. I took his advice and ate very well. The Warsaw Philharmonic’s concert at Soka Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night was sensational, a highlight of the year. But all I could think of during the long, traffic-encrusted READ MORE…

Review: Hélène Grimaud in recital at Disney Hall, Nov 7, 2012

Pianist Hélène Grimaud.

By Rick Schultz
L.A. Times

One of the realities of a musician’s life is that sometimes he or she must work on a birthday. After performing a demanding program of Mozart, Berg, Liszt and Bartók and then three encores, French pianist Hélène Grimaud was called back to the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage on Wednesday to the strains of “Happy Birthday” sung by the audience. Grimaud, who turned 43, last appeared at Disney Hall in 2007, but an episode of heart arrhythmia forced her to end that recital at intermission. This time, from the outset of Mozart’s driven and somber Piano Sonata No. 8 (K. 310), composed in the wake of his mother’s death, Grimaud seemed like a force of nature. In her personal, modern psychological rendition, Grimaud fully conveyed the score’s fury and grief. The especially effective slow movement includes a shattering READ MORE…

Preview: ‘Le Salon de Musiques’ presents chamber music by Widor and Caplet, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Nov 11, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Flutist Pamela Vliek Martchev.

At its most quintessentially French, Le Salon de Musiques pairs two rarities from late-19th-century Paris in what promises to be an afternoon of charming salon music. On the program are Charles-Marie Widor’s Suite for Flute and Piano, Op. 34, and André Caplet’s Quintet for Piano and Winds. Both pieces are representative of Le Salon’s theme this season of reviving beautiful Romantic and Neo-Romantic works that have fallen into obscurity. Read the rest of this entry

Preview: ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ L.A. Theatre Works, Nov 15-18, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Christina Calvit.

In honor of the classic novel’s 200th anniversary, LA Theatre Works presents Christina Calvit’s beloved adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It’s difficult to imagine a more influential novel than Jane Austen’s romantic masterpiece. It’s spawned countless adaptations, imitators, and of course, a worldwide network of devoted fans. A new rendition is ambitious at best – but then, Theatre Works isn’t known for shrinking from a challenge. This particular production, currently on tour, returns to L.A. on November 15. Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Hélène Grimaud in Recital, Disney Hall, Nov. 7, 2012 (No Recommendation)

Hélène Grimaud.

by James C. Taylor
L.A. Times

Hélène Grimaud does not back down. This has always been the case for the French pianist, who returns to Walt Disney Concert Hall for a solo recital on Wednesday, ever since she was the youngest student in her class at the Paris Conservatory and refused to perform pieces that didn’t interest her. (This rebelliousness may have rankled students and faculty, but it also landed her a recording contract during her second year, at age 15.) READ MORE…


Hot Tip: Neil Patrick Harris directs new show at the Geffen

Neil Patrick Harris

by David Ng
LA Times

Neil Patrick Harris will direct a new magic-themed show at the Geffen Playhouse that is set to open on Nov. 27. “Nothing to Hide,” featuring magicians Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães, will run at the company’s Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater through Jan. 6.

The show, which Harris will READ MORE

Review: Mehta, Yuja Wang and the Israel Philharmonic, Walt Disney Hall, Oct 30, 2012

Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

By Mark Swed
L.A. Times

There was no mention of Sandy at the Israel Philharmonic’s concert in Walt Disney Concert Hall Tuesday night. It wouldn’t have hurt to play a little something in solidarity of the millions dealing with the storm’s devastation, the Israelis having just appeared at Carnegie Hall last week. Then again, there was something comforting in an uncompromisingly traditional concert at which READ MORE…

Review: ‘Seminar,’ with Jeff Goldblum, Ahmanson Theatre (Not to be Missed) and ‘A Bolt from the Blue’ (No Recommendation)

Jeff Goldblum.

by Steven Leigh Morris
LA Weekly

The essay “A Bolt From the Blue,” which opens neurologist Oliver Sacks’ 2007 book Musicophilia, is the story of Tony Cicoria, an orthopedic surgeon in upstate New York who was struck by lightning in 1994. This would seem to be the story that inspired Kathryn Walat’s new play Creation, commissioned by Yale Rep and developed at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference and at Pasadena’s Theatre @ Boston Court, where it’s now playing.

Explains Sacks in a 2007 interview in Harper’s: READ MORE


Review: Harding, Capuçon and the LA Phil Perform Korngold and Mahler, Disney Hall, Oct 26-28

Conductor Daniel Harding.

By Mark Swed
LA Times

You can never have too much Mahler, most Mahler freaks believe. We trust our faith but seldom test it. The massive symphonies and disquieting song cycles are musically and emotionally bold statements that remain special-occasion music, even with the composer having entered the standard READ MORE…

Hot Tip: Geffen Playhouse Hosts World Premiere of ‘Coney Island Christmas’, Nov 28 – Dec 30

Arye Gross stars in Donald Margulies’ newest play.

By Kenneth Jones

Coney Island Christmas, billed as a “Jewish Christmas show” for people of all ages and all faiths, by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, will star Arye Gross and Isabella Acres, among others, in its world premiere at Geffen Playhouse. The Geffen commission by the READ MORE…


Review: ‘Krapp’s Last Tape,’ Kirk Douglas Theatre, Thru Nov. 4, 2012 (Not To Be Missed)

John Hurt with his tape machine.

by Steven Leigh Morris

LA Weekly

Let’s not mince words, because Samuel Beckett doesn’t. In the Irish dramatist’s monodrama Krapp’s Last Tape, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, John Hurt is READ MORE…


Review: L.A. Master Chorale, ‘Organ Extravaganza,’ Oct. 21, 2012

By Michelle Green Willner
L.A. Opening Nights

Conductor Grant Gershon and the LA Master Chorale promised an “Organ Extravaganza” for its 49th season opener—a title which might put any audience in fear of a loud, obvious and “churchy” evening. Those, like this reviewer, who are always wary of organs, might have hesitated.

The music we heard, however, was as cerebral and challenging as it was big and exuberant. And while the selections were all religious, they were far from churchy. The organ added to the efforts of the Master Chorale—surely one of the world’s finest vocal institutions—without drowning it in “extravaganza.” Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Le Salon de Musique, Schubert Piano Trios, Upstairs at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 4pm, Dec 9 2012 (Highly Recommended)

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of the Le Salon de Musique concert series

by Rosemary McGuinness
L.A. Opening NightsThe third concert in the Le Salon de Musique series, highly acclaimed for its unique viewing experience, will feature Schubert’s Piano Trios, performed by world class musicians Searmi Park, John Walz and Francois Chouchan. Read the rest of this entry