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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.


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: 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

Review: ‘In the Red and Brown Water,” Fountain Theatre, Thru Dec. 16, 2012 (Not To Be Missed)

From the production.

By Charles McNulty
Los Angeles Times

Beyond the fact that it is sensational, the Fountain Theatre’s production of “In the Red and Brown Water” by Tarell Alvin McCraney is important for two reasons: It introduces Los Angeles audiences to a dramatic poet in the process of discovering his singular voice and it shows how magnificently one of L.A.’s better small theaters can serve bold new talent. READ MORE…

Also read BackStage Review


Review: ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ National Ballet of Canada, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Oct 19-21, 2012

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with the National Ballet of Canada.

By Lewis Segal
L.A. Times

The search for a warm-weather “Nutcracker” continues with “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Christopher Wheeldon’s three-act dance fantasy, which the National Ballet of Canada brought to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Friday in its U.S. premiere, beginning a five-performance run. Like the Russian Christmas classic, the new work (co-commissioned by Britain’s Royal Ballet) begins at a party for adults, involves its child-heroine in dreamlike changes of scale and battles with bizarre READ MORE…

Review: Andsnes and Dudamel Play Beethoven, L.A. Phil, Disney Hall, Oct 4-7 (Highly Recommended)

Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.

By Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times

With Obama and Romney on the brain, it becomes next to impossible a day after the presidential debates not to perceive the candidates in all walks of life. The Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes — who participated in an all-Beethoven concert with Los Angeles Philharmonic Thursday night in Walt Disney Concert Hall — are not exactly stand-ins for American politicians. Read more….

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 (10/4 and 10/5)
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3 (10/6 and 10/7)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

Preview: ‘Swan Lake’, The Mariinsky Ballet, Segerstrom Hall, Oct 2-7 2012 (Highly Recommended)

from The Segerstrom Center for the Arts Revue

Who now would believe that when Swan Lake premiered in Russia in 1877, it got bad reviews?  Today, of course, it is one of the most beloved of the classic ballets: the white tutus, all those feathers, a handsome prince and an evil villain who has cast a spell on the swans. The Mariinsky may be the world’s (currently) most celebrated company.  READ MORE…


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

Hot Tip: Witty opera performance by Duo Alterno at REDCAT, October 2, 2012 (Worth The Risk)

Italian opera/performance-art ensemble, Duo Alterno, perform their special mix of XIX Century and contemporary classical music at REDCAT, 8:30pm, October 2.

Why It’s Worth the Risk: If you love opera and have a quirky sense of humour, Duo Alterno may be for you.  Soprano Tiziana Scandaletti and pianist-composer Riccardo Piacentini incorporate gestural sonic elements and visuals with a reputedly beautifully executed and witty performance. This event aims to be the cutting edge between a bel-canto recital, modern theater and visual art.  Read the rest of this entry

Hot Tip: Cellist Eric Byers Plays Bach at Trinity Lutheran Church, October 5, 2012 (Worth the Risk)

Calder Quartet’s cellist Eric Byers performs the six Bach Cello Suites at Trinity Lutheran Church.  12:15 p.m. October 5.

Why It’s Worth the Risk:  Bach’s Cello Suites are some of the most intricate and elegant solo compositions ever written. The wide emotional range of their different movements show a palette of difficulty that challenges the most talented players, and they are known for separating the true virtuosi from the merely gifted.   A staple of chamber music, these suites have been transcribed for a multitude of instruments and have been part of dozens of film Read the rest of this entry

Review: Itzhak Perlman Performs Tchaikovsky at the Hollywood Bowl, Sept 13, 2012

Itzhak Perlman.

by Rosemary McGuinness
L.A. Opening Nights

Back in 1878, Tchaikovsky had some trouble getting anyone to play his Violin Concerto. Debut performances kept being cancelled by the soloist on the grounds that the piece was simply too difficult. First Iosif Kotek and then Leopold Auer, to whom the piece was originally dedicated, accepted and then declined to perform it — apparently back-tracking after making some effort and then deciding that the piece was, in Auer’s words, ‘unplayable.’ Read the rest of this entry

Hot Tip: ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ in HD, James Bridges Theatre, Sept 15 (Worth The Risk)

Luke Treadaway as Christopher Boone in smash London show: ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ Photo: Manuel Harlan

WHY IT’S WORTH THE RISK: This site is about live performance, and we don’t often recommend HD. But maybe like you we can’t get to London for the hit adaptation of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” So we we’re willing to try it in HD when L.A. Theatre Works & The James Bridges Theater present a National Theatre Live broadcast  of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater, Saturday, Sept. 15 @ 7:30 p.m.  After all, reviews have been astounding and audience response has been huge. Read the rest of this entry

Hot Tip: Chanticleer at Cal Lutheran, Sept 6, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

WHY IT’S HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Perhaps the world’s finest male chorus.

Called “the world’s reigning male chorus” by The New Yorker and named “Ensemble of the Year” by Musical America in 2008, Chanticleer performed more than 100 concerts last year, including appearances at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Walt Disney Concert Hall. The group toured Europe twice, participating in prestigious festivals such as Edinburgh, La Chaise Dieu, Bremen, and Schleswig-Holstei. Read the rest of this entry

Review: ‘Hear Now: Music Festival in Venice’, Aug 25 & 26, 2012

HUGH LEVICK is the founder and artistic director of ‘Hear Now.’

by Rodney Punt
L.A. Opus

Composers of serious music face limited performance prospects. It’s an old story, but a host of L.A.’s finest composers and musicians are writing it a happy ending. “It’s about revelation, making seen and heard what has been hidden”, said Hugh Levick, Artistic Director of HEAR NOW, A Festival of New Music by Contemporary Los Angeles Composers. He was speaking last weekend to a large audience as the second season of the festival commenced at The First Lutheran Church of Venice. READ MORE…

Review: ‘Carmina Burana,’ Hollywood Bowl, Aug 28, Aug 30 (Highly Recommended)

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.

Tonight’s hot ticket….see review below.

By Richard S. Ginell
Los Angeles Times

When Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, who turns 79 in September, comes to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he brings qualities that one used to associate with departed veteran maestros of the past — a searching depth, revelation of detail without losing the forest for the trees, a sense of how to zero in upon and shape a climax. Yes, even at the Hollywood Bowl — with its extra-musical distractions, variable amplified sound and short rehearsal time — Frühbeck delivers the goods, and the appreciative Philharmonic keeps inviting him back. READ MORE…