Fidelio And Verdi Requiem Open Los Angeles Opera's 2007-08 Season

Classic Arts News   Fidelio And Verdi Requiem Open Los Angeles Opera's 2007-08 Season
 
Los Angeles Opera opens its 2007-08 season this weekend with two major events.

Tonight, James Conlon, now beginning his second season as the company's music director, conducts Beethoven's Fidelio. The production, directed and designed by Pier'Alli, features soprano Anja Kampe as Leonore, tenor Klaus Florian Vogt as Florestan, baritone Eike Wilm Schulte as Don Pizzaro, bass Matti Salminen as Rocco and bass-baritone Oleg Bryjak as Don Fernando.

Tomorrow afternoon, in place of the Plšcido Domingo and Friends Gala usually held on opening weekend, Domingo himself will conduct the company premiere of Verdi's Requiem. Joining the tenor/conductor will be a powerhouse quartet of soloists: soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, mezzo Stephanie Blythe, and — in their company debuts — tenor Jonas Kaufmann and bass Ren_ Pape.

Domingo, who is also Los Angeles Opera's general director, announced two days ago that this performance of the Requiem is dedicated to the memory of two great friends: Edgar Baitzel, the late chief operating officer of the company, and Luciano Pavarotti, who died this week.

The next production, opening September 27, will be two debuts in one: the house premiere of Janšcek's Jenufa, with Karita Mattila in the title role, giving her first performances with the company. Eva Urbanová plays the Kostelnicka, Jenufa's stern stepmother, with Kim Begley and Jorma Silvasti as rival cousins Laca and Steva. (Silvasti is replacing Joseph Kaiser, who was released at Domingo's special request to substitute for the ailing Rolando Villaz‹n at the Metropolitan Opera.) Conlon is again on the podium for this Olivier Tambosi production, the same one in which Mattila has had acclaimed runs at Covent Garden and the Met.

The season continues with a revival of Mariusz Trelinski's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni on November 24, with bass Erwin Schrott in the title role. Hartmut Haenchen conducts a cast that also features basses Kyle Ketelsen and James Creswell, sopranos Alexandra Deshorties, Maria Kanyova and Lauren McNeese, and tenor Charles Castronovo.

The company will also revive the Herbert Ross production of Puccini's La Bohme, which returns on November 25. Maija Kovalevska, first prize winner of the 2006 Operalia competition, and 2003 Operalia winner Virginia Tola will alternate as Mimì; tenors Massimo Giordano and 2005 Operalia winner Arturo Chac‹n-Cruz will sing Rodolfo. Laquita Mitchell and Nicole Heaston share the role of Musetta, with Luca Scalsi and Hyung Yun alternating as Marcello. Hartmut Haenchen and Domingo will alternate on the podium.

Linda Watson and John Treleaven take the title roles in a revival of the David Hockney-designed staging of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, which opens January 19, conducted by Conlon. Lioba Braun sings Brang‹ne, with Juha Uusitalo as Kurwenal and Eric Halfvarson and Kristinn Sigmundsson sharing the role of King Marke.

John Cox's production of Verdi's Otello returns to the repertory on February 16, also with Conlon in the pit. The cast features tenor Ian Storey as Otello, soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domê¢s as Desdemona, baritone Mark Delavan as Iago, mezzo Ning Liang as Emilia and Halfvarson as Lodovico.

Over the past few years one of Conlon's pet projects has been reviving the neglected music of Jewish composers who perished or went into exile during World War II, such as Erwin Schulhoff, Alexander Zemlinsky and Viktor Ullman. Los Angeles Opera's Recovered Voices series will offer new productions (opening February 17) of a double bill, conducted by Conlon and directed by Darko Tresnjak, of Zemlinsky's rarely performed Der Zwerg ("The Dwarf") and the U.S. premiere of Ullmann's Der zebrochene Krug ("The Broken Jug").

Der Zwerg is a tragedy based on Oscar Wilde's The Birthday of the Infanta, in which a naive dwarf falls in love with a spoiled Spanish princess who cruelly breaks his heart. Der zebrochene Krug, a comic opera completed by the composer shortly before he was interned at Theresienstadt (where he died in 1944), received its world premiere in 1996. It is dominated by burlesque and humorous scenes based on the classic comedy by the Romantic German poet Heinrich von Kleist in which a provincial judge inadvertently shows himself to have committed the crime under investigation.

The cast for the double bill includes sopranos Mary Dunleavy and Susan B. Anthony, mezzo Elizabeth Bishop, tenor Roderick Dixon and baritone James Johnson.

The season closes with two Puccini operas, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth. Tosca, opening May 17, features Pieczonka and Georgina Lukšcs sharing the title role, with tenors Neil Shicoff and Gwyn Hughes Jones as Cavaradossi and baritone Juan Pons as Scarpia. Domingo shares conducting duties with Richard Armstrong, a former music director of both Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera; the production will be directed by Ian Judge.

La rondine, starring Patricia Racette and Marcus Haddock, closes the season on June 28; Marta Domingo directs and Keri-Lynn Wilson conducts.

The company will also present a solo recital by bass-baritone Bryn Terfel on April 20; repertoire will be announced at a later date.

Information on and tickets for Los Angeles Opera's 2007-08 season are available at www.laopera.com.

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