L.A. Philharmonic Postpones U.S. Premiere of Saariaho's Passion de Simone

Classic Arts News   L.A. Philharmonic Postpones U.S. Premiere of Saariaho's Passion de Simone
The Los Angeles Philharmonic has postponed the U.S. premiere of Kaija Saariaho's oratorio La Passion de Simone, which was to have opened the orchestra's 2007-08 season at Walt Disney Concert Hall this October.

In the new work's place, on October 5, 6 and 7, Philharmonic music director Esa-Pekka Salonen will conduct Luciano Berio's orchestration of Contrapunctus XIX from Bach's The Art of the Fugue, Richard Strauss's Metamorphosen and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

A statement issued by the Philharmonic today said that "Saariaho's work has been postponed after much consideration by Salonen and director Peter Sellars, who now feel that it is important to present this work in its fully staged form. In order to accommodate the schedules of the key participants (soloist, director, dancer and designers), the work has been rescheduled for the Philharmonic's 2008/2009 season."

Those participants include Sellars, who initially commissioned the work for his New Crowned Hope festival in Vienna last year and who directed the staging; soprano Dawn Upshaw, for whom Saariaho composed the score; dancer Michael Schumacher; lighting designer James F. Ingalls; and costume designer Martin Pakledinaz.

La Passion de Simone — which "explores the life and spiritual world of French-Jewish feminist philosopher, mathematician and mystic Simone Weil" — received its world premiere last November at New Crowned Hope — though without Upshaw, who withdrew when she was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks before the curtain date. Upshaw did perform in the oratorio's U.K. premiere last month, when the Barbican Centre presented a scaled-down version of Sellars's festival.

The fourth co-commissioner of Simone, along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New Crowned Hope and the Barbican Centre, is Lincoln Center, which has not yet announced a date for its New York premiere.

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