Category Archives: Not To Be Missed This Season

Productions or performances the discerning L.A. audience will not want to miss.

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

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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…

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Preview: L.A. Master Chorale, Monteverdi’s ‘Vespers of 1610,’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Nov 18, 2012 (Not to Be Missed)

The L.A. Master Chorale with music director Grant Gershon.

by Yu Tang
L.A. Opening Nights

Often cited as the most ambitious work of sacred music before J.S. Bach, Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 is a monumental musical collection that demonstrates the composer’s mastery of all the compositional styles and techniques of the time. Grant Gershon conducts the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra in this favorite Read the rest of this entry

Review: ‘Red,’ Mark Taper Forum, Through Sept. 9, 2012 (Not To Be Missed)

By Charles McNulty
Los Angeles Times

As imagined by John Logan in his Tony-winning drama “Red” and portrayed by the galvanizing Alfred Molina, painter Mark Rothko is a man of fierce convictions and fiery words. His opinions about art are delivered like biblical proclamations, spoken in the Old Testament cadences of a burning bush…READ MORE

Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A., 8 p.m.Tuesdays-Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. Ends Sept. 9.

For ticket info, call (213) 628-2772 OR CLICK HERE

Review: ‘Tribute to Górecki,’ L.A. Master Chorale, June 10, 2012

Grant Gershon conducts the L.A. Master Chorale.

By Marc Porter Zasada
Executive Editor, L.A. Opening Nights

What music from the 20th century will last? I mean really last, as in many centuries? Let me put in a vote for the works of Henrik Górecki, the too-little-known Polish composer who passed away in 2010. Back in the 1950s, Górecki began writing in the serial tone mode of Schoenberg, et al; but quickly departed that highly-academic style to create something entirely his own.

Drawing from traditional sources like Medieval chant and Polish liturgy, Górecki forged what is sometimes called “sacred minimalism.” Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Ojai Music Festival, June 7-10 2012 (Not-To-Be-Missed)

Ojai Music Festival. Photo: Axel Koester

By Barbara Isenberg
Los Angeles Times

The celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is rarely in one place for long. In May alone, he was set to perform in major concert halls in New York, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. But this week Andsnes settles in at a very different venue: the park setting of the Ojai Music Festival. READ MORE…

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Discussion: L.A. Phil to perform Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’, May 18-26, 2012 (Not To Be Missed)

Gustavo Dudamel conducts.

THE ANGLE: The L.A. Phil launches an ambitious effort to stage the three “da Ponte” operas by Mozart; each designed by a leading contemporary architect.

BACKGROUND: Any great opera is the result of a great collaboration, a fact easily obscured when a name as revered as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is in the mix. For the same reason that every different pairing of composer and librettist will produce a different result, each new production of an old favorite is an original work. Between 1784 and 1790, the brilliant matching of Mozart and Venetian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte gave rise to three unforgettable masterpieces: Cosi fan tutte, Read the rest of this entry

Review: ‘Sublime Schubert’ – Orchestrated Songs and Ninth Symphony, April 20, 2012

Christoph Eschenbach (left) and Matthias Goerne (right).

By Patrick Swanson
Assistant Editor, L.A. Opening Nights

Conductor/pianist Christoph Eschenbach and baritone Matthias Goerne share a special musical bond, and that bond’s name is Franz.

In the last few years, the two men have worked their way through the vast halls of Franz Schubert’s lieder, issuing faultless interpretations of his major song-cycles  on disc and in performance.

On stage, they’re an interesting study in contrasts. Goerne is substantially bear-like in build; in performance the German singer alternates rumination (head-down, eyes closed as he weighs and considers an approaching phrase) with animation (the beautifully-spun phrase itself). Read the rest of this entry

Review: Grant Gershon conducts L.A. Master Chorale in Bach’s ‘St. John Passion’, Mar 31, 2012

Grant Gershon conducts the L.A. Master Chorale.

By Patrick Swanson
Assistant Editor, L.A. Opening Nights

There’s a famous painting by early Renaissance master Piero della Francesca depicting The Resurrection. Jesus has just risen from the tomb, over which he has planted a kind of victory flag; he stares directly into the eyes of the viewer with austere intensity. The world is strangely silent – no trumpeting angels or celebratory fireworks in sight. Four symmetrically-arranged soldiers lie sleeping at Christ’s feet, blissfully unaware of what is happening behind them.

I thought of this painting a few times during the L.A. Master Chorale/Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra’s performance of Bach’s St. John Passion on Saturday, though not for any overt theological reasons:   Read the rest of this entry

Review: American Ballet Theatre – ‘The Firebird’ at Segerstrom, Mar 29-Apr 1 (Not-To-Be-Missed)

Alexei Ratmansky's 'Firebird.'

By Laura Bleiberg
Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2012

With his characteristic blend of sensitive classicism and impish humanity, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky has updated the iconic “Firebird” into an extravagant and fanciful adventure for American Ballet Theatre.

The one-act ballet had its world premiere Thursday at Segerstrom Center for the Arts on an abundant triple bill that also featured the local premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Thirteen Diversions” (2011) and “Duets” (1980) by the late Merce Cunningham. Read more….

Review: ‘Waiting for Godot’ at the Taper, Thru April 22 (Not-To-Be-Missed)

Actor James Cromwell, center stars with Alan Mandell, left and Barry McGovern.

By Sarah Spitz
L.A. Opening Nights

I remember it to this day. In 1977, (Papa Walton) Ralph Waite’s passion project— the LA Actors Theatre in a down-and-out section of Hollywood—produced what has since come to be called one of the “definitive” productions of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, with Waite himself as Pozzo, Dana Elcar as Estragon (Gogo), Donald Moffatt as Vladimir (Didi) and Bruce French as Lucky. That production was turned into a classy and classic TV production, set in the Mojave Desert, for PBS. I saw them both and will never forget either.

In 1988, New York boasted the all-star (though not so critically lauded) Mike Nichols-directed Lincoln Center production with Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Bill Irwin, F. Murray Abraham and a very young Lukas Haas. Read the rest of this entry

Review: Piatigorsky International Cello Festival Finale at Walt Disney Hall, Mar 18, 2012 (Not-To-Be-Missed)

One hundred cellos performing Christopher Rouse's "Rapturedux" at Walt Disney. Credit: Mariah Tauger /Los Angeles Times.

By Mark Swed,
Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2012

There goes the Disney Hall stage. Sunday night, as the grand finale of the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, 100 cellists dug their endpins into the expensive stage floor of Walt Disney Concert Hall for a rare performance of Christopher Rouse’s “Rapturedux.”

The tender Alaskan yellow cedar now has a cluster of new pockmarks, and the universe has a remarkable new sound — 400 rich and rapt cello strings vibrating in a great acoustic space. This goes beyond music. Vibration is the essence of nature — everything vibrates. And in the opening F-major chord of “Rapturedux,” it was possible to believe in a palpable music of the spheres. Read more….

Review: Piatigorsky Cello Fest: Neeme Jarvi, Ralph Kirshbaum at Disney Hall, Mar 15, 2012 (Not-To-Be-Missed)

Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum.

By Richard S. Ginell
Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2012

There are two interlocking storylines at Walt Disney Concert Hall this weekend: the culmination of the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, and the belated return of Estonian-born maestro and patriarch of a conducting dynasty, Neeme Järvi.

A prolific recording conductor, to say the least — you name it and it’s probably in Järvi’s discography somewhere — and once a frequent visitor here, it seems that Järvi hasn’t led the Los Angeles Philharmonic since a 1990 Hollywood Bowl date, and hasn’t conducted the Phil downtown since 1989.  So the orchestra is taking advantage of Järvi’s versatility in a most unusual and festive way: He is accompanying three different cellists, one per concert, in five different pieces. Read More….

Review: ‘Jane Austen Unscripted’, Pasadena Playhouse, Through April 1 (Not-To-Be-Missed)

A non-unexpected, but delightfully unscripted moment in an entirely original "Jane Austen play."

By Marc Porter Zasada
Executive Editor, L.A. Opening Nights

If you have ever loved a Jane Austen novel, written a college essay about Jane Austen, or seen a Merchant Ivory production, you won’t want to miss Jane Austen Unscripted, the touring show at the Pasadena Playhouse through April 1. The remarkable Austen wrote just six novels, but the aggressively clever Impro Theatre troupe creates an entirely new Austen work three nights a week—with hilarious results.

Starting with a suggestion thrown off by the audience, the small ensemble improvises not just a few scenes, Read the rest of this entry

Bach’s St. John Passion with L.A. Master Chorale at Walt Disney Hall, Mar 31 – April 1 (Not-To-Be-Missed)

Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach at age 35.

Grant Gershon leads the L.A. Master Chorale in two performances of Bach’s sublime St. John Passion.

Why It’s Not To Be Missed: While it may not be as popular as his St. Matthew Passion, this sacred oratorio is just as beautiful, with some of Bach’s greatest choruses and arias. Conductor Grant Gershon’s L.A. Master Chorale has a special way with Bach, and there is no better space (the incredibly resonant acoustics of Walt Disney Hall) or time of year (Easter season) to hear this astonishing masterpiece. Read the rest of this entry