Category Archives: Opera

Review: ‘Don Giovanni’ at L.A. Opera, Sept. 22-Oct. 14, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

David Bizic as Leporello and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Don Giovanni. (Photo by Robert Millard)

By Marc Porter Zasada
L.A. Opening Nights

(Note: A version of this review previously appeared in the L.A. Downtown News)

If you like your Mozart straight up, your Don Giovanni rakish, and your Leporello comic, you will love the new production of everyone’s favorite opera now onstage at L.A. Opera.

By “straight up” we mean Mozart without lasers, surreal costumes, or avant-garde re-imaginings. Indeed, you might say that the new production directed by Gregory A. Fortner and designed by Peter Stein is radical in its absence of radical elements, Read the rest of this entry


Review: ‘The Two Foscari’ at L.A. Opera, Sept 15 – Oct 9, 2012 (Worth-The-Risk)

Placido Domingo as Francesco Foscari (Photo: Robert Millard)

By Marc Porter Zasada
L.A. Opening Nights

(Note a version of this review previously appeared in L.A. Downtown News)

We are heading toward the 2013 bicentennial of the birth of Giuseppi Verdi, the composer who did much to evolve opera into the intensely personal and emotional art form we know today. Around the world, productions are being readied and celebrations mounted.

Last week, local fans were excited by the chance of seeing The Two Foscari, a rarely-performed work from Verdi’s early period—number six of an astounding 29 operas. For the less-indoctrinated, it may have seemed an odd choice to open a season. While Foscari is full of rich and rewarding music, shot through with unmistakable Verdi genius, it has its evident weaknesses. Read the rest of this entry

Review: ‘The Two Foscari’ at L.A. Opera, Sept 15 – Oct 9, 2012 (Worth The Risk)

LA Opera’s The Two Foscari stars Placido Domingo.

Opera Season kicked in this weekend with a Verdi rarity, The Two Foscari. Coming this Saturday, Mozart’s: Don Giovanni. We will be presenting our own reviews shortly. Meanwhile, here are two good pieces from the L.A. Times about Foscari and  the opening gala.

By Mark Swed

Los Angeles TimesThe start of fire season and opera season in Los Angeles often coincide. It’s weird — a scheduling remnant from the days when the Los Angeles Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic shared the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and bickered over dates — but it works. The late-summer air is hot and dry, toxic with smoke. Read more…

And about the Opening Gala….


Review: ‘Paper Nautilus’ at Long Beach Opera, Sept. 7-9, 2012

From ‘Paper Nautilus.’

By Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times

Eight Summer Olympics ago, it was Los Angeles’ turn. We did well with the Games (traffic and weather cooperated). We built no monuments, no starchitect stadiums or the like. But a progressive Olympic Arts Festival gave a lasting boost to our modern dance and international theater scene and stimulated the creation of Los Angeles Opera. Then there was director Robert Wilson’s “the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down,” the centerpiece of the festival. Read more…

Review: ‘The Face,’ Aratani/Japan America Theatre, August 25, 27, 28, 2012 (No Recommendation)

The Opera ‘The Face,’ at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre.

By Richard S. Ginell
Los Angeles Times

It took seven years for “The Face,” a new opera by composer Donald Crockett and poet David St. John, to get from its inception to its world-premiere staging at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre on Saturday night — and when three of its characters sing the lines, “What a long 11 months it’s been, the movie’s in the can,” you wonder if art is mimicking life…READ MORE 

Aratani/Japan America Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St.

$15 to $110


Preview: ‘Madame Butterfly’ at L.A. Opera, Nov. 17-Dec. 9, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

From the upcoming production.

Why It’s Highly Recommended: A few years ago, L.A. Opera put on a highly minimalist and avant-garde production of Madame Butterfly by Robert Wilson. This is NOT that production. For those who have been yearning for a traditional ‘Butterfly’ you will get your wish. The director, Ron Daniels, did the highly regarded Il Postino at L.A. Opera, so we expect good things.

From the PR: “A love that knows no boundaries goes horribly wrong in a fateful meeting of East and West. What begins as an idyllic liaison in an enchanting land of cherry blossoms turns into the heartbreaking tragedy of an abandoned bride forced to make an excruciating decision. A stunning production, never before seen in Los Angeles, melds sumptuous costumes with evocative period scenery.”



Background: Drama afoot as L.A. Opera feels heat of rival works

‘Don Giovanni’ was a major hit at the L.A. Phil

By Reed Johnson and David Ng
Los Angeles Times
June 20, 2012

This spring, opera in Los Angeles has been winning praise for its daring and diversity. A boldly abstract version of “Don Giovanni” staged by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. An edgy multimedia opera, “Crescent City,” presented by The Industry. Coming up: Benjamin Britten’s “Curlew River,” by the innovative music group Jacaranda, and a new chamber opera, “The Face,” by two USC scholars. READ MORE

Discussion: ‘Ainadamar’ at Long Beach Opera, May 20 and 26, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Osvaldo Golijov.

The Long Beach Opera performs  Ainadamar by Osvaldo Golijov, May 20 and 26, 2012.

WHY IT’S HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Reviews have been middling, but this is a rare opportunity to see a remarkable work. A short opera which successfully links modern classical idioms with traditional flamenco and Cuban music–beautiful song with powerful and direct rhythms. Since the current version appeared in 2005, Ainadamar has become one of the few contemporary operas to attract audiences around the world. Golijov, born 1960 in La Plata, Argentina , of Romanian Jewish parents, has become an important contemporary composer.  Read the rest of this entry

Review: ‘La Bohème’ at L.A. Opera, May 12-June 6 2012 (Worth the Risk)

Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez. Photo: L.A. Opera.

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

A version of this review first appeared in L.A. Downtown News

Somehow, La Bohème always works.  It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s mangled by  regional opera, transformed into a  Broadway play, or mismanaged by a leading company.  It’s not just the music, but the balanced story that always clicks.  And then of course, there’s that memory of fickle young love, always ready to awaken in our souls.

Whatever the  reason,  Giacamo Puccini managed to perform his magic at L.A. Opera once again last week, despite a lackluster set of principals and some weak directing . Again we found ourselves in the garrets of Paris. Again we fell prey to the foolishness of youth. Read the rest of this entry

KUSC-FM Announces L.A. Opera on the Air Schedule for May and June, 2012

A scene from L.A. Opera’s production of ‘Simon Boccanegra’

Did you miss a favorite opera during the L.A. season? For a sixth consecutive year, Classical KUSC will be bringing L.A. Opera to the air with a broadcast series of LA Opera performances recorded live at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The weekly series, which will begin airing at 10am on Saturday, May 19 with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, is hosted by Duff Murphy and will feature six operas from LA Opera’s 2011/12 season. Here’s the complete schedule: Read the rest of this entry

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: ‘Crescent City’ a ‘Hyperopera,’ Atwater Crossing, May 10-27 2012 (Worth-The-Risk)

By Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2012

At the world premiere Thursday night of Anne LeBaron’s darkly mysterious, troubling yet weirdly exuberant and wonderfully performed new opera “Crescent City,” a young Reveler in the production frolicked a few feet from where I was sitting on a folding chair along the perimeter of the experimental art space, Atwater Crossing. She wore a skirt fashioned out of the Arts & Books section of this newspaper, and she was close enough that I could read a few crumpled lines. READ MORE…

Review: ‘Albert Herring,’ L.A. Opera, Through March 17 (No Recommendation)

May Day in Loxford.

By Marc Porter Zasada
Executive Editor, L.A. Opening Nights
A version of this review previously appeared in L.A. Downtown News

There are plenty of opportunities for Monty Python-level humor in the opera Albert Herring, Benjamin Britten’s 1947 send-up of provincial British culture.

Picture this as a Python skit: A delegation of dull village officials arrives at the house of prudish Lady Billows to help select the purest town virgin to play the “May Queen” at the annual village fair. Finding no girl sufficiently modest, clean, and upright—they finally choose a virginal momma’s boy, grocer’s son Albert Herring, to be “May King.”

Albert hardly wants the honor of being dressed in a symbolic white suit and garlanded with flowers, but momma insists. He’s tricked into getting drunk at the fair, then finally rebels against the town’s expectations.

Flying sheep would not be out of place. Read the rest of this entry

Review: ‘Simon Boccanegra’ at L.A. Opera Through March 4 (Not-To-Be-Missed)

The Plebes 'Occupy' the Senate. Photo by Robert Milland

By Marc Porter Zasada
Executive Editor, L.A. Opening Nights
(A version of this review originally appeared in L.A .Downtown News)

Sometimes, in opera as in life, it all just comes together. So it is with Simon Boccanegra, now onstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and starring the great Plácido Domingo. Opera lovers live for those moments when all the many complex elements that make up a production—orchestra, chorus, principals, conductor, costumes—create a whole greater than the sum of the parts. By that measure, Boccanegra creates some of the best moments in the L.A. Opera season to date. Read the rest of this entry

‘Moby Dick’ Set to Open at San Diego Opera with Ben Heppner, Feb 18-26 (No Recommendation)

By Diane Haithman
Special to the Los Angeles Times
February 14, 2012

Canadian tenor Ben Heppner is a versatile performer, but Tinker Bell he’s not. Yet this mountain of a man will be flying as Captain Ahab in San Diego Opera’s West Coast premiere of the opera”Moby-Dick.” The production sets sail Saturday at San Diego’s Civic Theatre.At a recent rehearsal of the new opera by Jake Heggie — who made a splash with his first opera, “Dead Man Walking,” in 2000 — the imposing Heppner was standing at the back of a cavernous rehearsal space in the Civic Theatre complex, Read More…