Cher Public

  • Camille: Thanks for the advance notice. I pray for his wellbeing and safe recovery. He is a treasure. 2:28 PM
  • Camille: MingoSenzaDo. 2:27 PM
  • messa di voce: Agree! 2:16 PM
  • antikitschychick: Also, just wanted to reiterate my continued well wishes for Dima! Hope everything works out well for him, and his family... 1:54 PM
  • antikitschychick: Glad to see he’s still on the roster for September 25th, which is the performance I plan to attend (if I can get... 1:48 PM
  • Ilka Saro: This puts things back in perspective. I didn’t want to come down hard on Jo Yo, who writes so wonderfully and is also an... 1:47 PM
  • m. croche: David Gockley’s Bourgeois Dinner avec Dinner Music Wine coolers – made by the piano-cocktail from Denisov’s... 1:20 PM
  • chicagoing: I am considering treating myself to a first time visit to the San Francisco Opera next June for Don Carlo, an opera I have not... 1:16 PM

Senior moment

Being an opera lover in Los Angeles is a lot like being a Red Sox fan.  As hard as they try we never make it to the World Series, let alone the playoffs. The Chandler family who owned the LA Times, and in particular Dorothy “Buffie” Chandler who raised the money to build the Music Center downtown, and put her name on its biggest theater there in a stunning display of humility, weren’t opera fans. They loved the LA Philharmonic and, of course, we had to have a suitable holy shrine for the Oscar ceremony because this is an industry town. The New York City Opera would visit in the summers from ‘66 to ‘82 but the Chandlers, and Buffie in particular, actually discouraged an opera company. We had to essentially wait for her to slip into senility before someone could start one. That finally happened in 1986 when Peter Hemmings and Placido Domingo started the LA Opera and things began to change. Very gradually.  

We’ve had some great productions but there’s always been something wanting. For the first decade the orchestra was pretty awful and no one in the audience knew where to applaud. They still don’t know how to dress.  When the company would attempt something musically major like Wagner or Berg they’d actually hire the Philharmonic for the pit.  Then there’s the advertising that’s strictly bush league.  It’s hard to take a company seriously that mounts a major production of Berlioz’s epic, hires Charles Dutoit to conduct, and calls it The Trojans.  We don’t even get the ‘und’ in Wagner’s opera, it’s Tristan AND Isolde.  The cultural equivalent of a buzz kill as far as I’m concerned.

We’ve gotten a lot of package deals with directors or tenors foisting their wives on us in roles, both in front of and behind the curtain, that they weren’t suited for.  My first Fidelio was with Karan Armstrong as Leonore who was married to the director of the production, Götz Friedrich.  She couldn’t even make it through to the end of ” Aubscheulicher!”.  Don’t get me started on Petra-Maria Schnitzer’s Ariadne just so we could have Peter Seiffert as Bacchus in the Strauss. Mrs. Domingo directs.  Not sure anyone else noticed.  We had an unknown Isolde making a role debut who hasn’t been heard from since.

So, no surprise that Uncle Placido should decide to include Los Angeles on his Simon Boccanegra World Tour.  Since he started singing the baritone lead in this opus in 2009 this may well be the most well documented portrayal of any singer in an operatic role since Maria Callas in Traviata, including commercial DVD’s from The Met, Covent Garden, and La Scala. The only reason I went was because I was gifted with a ticket.

Which brings me to the topic of coin.  At the LA Opera it’s all about the money and I’d like to know where it goes exactly ? The walls of the Music Center and the Dorothy Chandler are like a mausoleum of long dead contributors. The program for Boccanegra literally lists hundreds of donors. When you sit down at your seat there’s a credit roll on the super-title screen that mentions all the biggest benefactors for the evening, Rolex, Eli & Edith Broad, the Annenberg’s, the Getty’s. Now, I did see a great performance of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West that was sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank but that was the only time it was actually appropriate. Frankly, it’s just vulgar and it diminishes whatever artistic attempts are made. We had a 25th Anniversary Gala with tables on the stage. No audience in the theatre.  Very cliquey. It’s also the kind of place where you discover that people like Chevy Chase and Jo Anne Worley are big opera fans.

For this we get Elijah Moshinsky’s borrowed Covent Garden production from 1991 with a serviceable semi-unit set cleverly designed by Micheal Yeargan and sumptuous, for us, costumes by Peter J. Hall. It’s a big step up from our average production values which are just a tad above School Holiday Pageant.  You can see our company’s Traviata on DVD: it’s sad.

Thank goodness for those supertitles too because in this opera you need them.  I’m pretty sure there are members of the cast who wonder what’s going on halfway through this epic.  Plausibility runs pretty low but it is a beautiful score even if you can see the seams where Piave and Boito meet.

First, we had the luxury of Paolo Gavanelli as the villainous Paolo.  He made a magnificent impression from his first hushed utterance in the prologue to his last march to the gallows in the final act. The prosciutto is sliced pretty thick in this role and he took advantage of every moment. His curse in the council chamber scene was just what you’d want.

Then, our Fiesco is Vitalij Kowaljow who was the Wotan in the Ring Cycle here last year. He’s got a really beautiful rolling bass and he poured forth in “Il lacerto spirito” all the way down to Verdi’s low G-flat. He easily commanded the Italian style and the stage, worked his cape like a pro, and did some of his best singing in the religious duet in Act I with the Gabrielle Adorno, Stefano Secco who was making his LA Opera debut.  Secco has a bright, bantam-weight sound that was very even top to bottom.  Although he may be lacking a little bloom in the high part of his voice he negotiated his fairly thankless aria well and did some extraordinary piano singing above the staff in the final act.

When I saw Domingo as Siegmund in the Ring here I left the theater thinking to myself that it was most certainly the last time I would see him live.  His performance in the Walkure was nothing short of astonishing for a man of 69 but you could tell it was hard work.  Unburdened as Boccanegra with the tenorial tessitura he exhibits a freedom and grace onstage that continues to amaze. In the prologue I almost didn’t believe it was he at first.  He bounded about the stage in a dark wig like a man half his years.

As the evening continued you could see why he wanted to play this part and what a perfect fit it makes for him. He still sings honestly with his own, now very burnished, burgundy tenor voice but his musicianship and breath make you aware of how spoiled we’ve been and perhaps have taken this very great artist a little bit for granted in his normal repertoire.  I was sorry they chose to costume him in a tea cozy once his character took the throne and but then was grateful for the padding when he threw himself to the stage, on his back no less, at the finale of his death scene. I think he slid two feet. I figured he’d just slump over on the nearby bench but he wanted to make certain we all got our money’s worth.

In 2005 I enjoyed a raucous performance of Il Barbiere di Siviglia in Santa Fe with a good cast.  I remember being off put by the fact that that I was seeing a soprano Rosina, which I thought was old school  and although she sang well, it wasn’t memorable enough for it to register.  Only later did I realize that this was the same artist I saw as Amelia Grimaldi on Thursday night.  Ana Maria Martinez is unrecognizable as the chirping colouratura I encountered seven years ago in New Mexico.

She has matured into a baby Verdi soprano of magnificent facility and a dead center accuracy of pitch. Listening to her makes you aware of how many singers attack every note from below as a matter of technique and style.  She made short work of her opening aria with its ungainly note spans and in the penultimate phrase unleashed the first of many of the evening’s stunning pianissimi.  She moved beautifully and her singing displayed a rare poise and delicious sense of strength held in reserve. In short, I have a new diva to worship.  I cannot wait to hear her again.

James Conlon led the orchestra well in a spacious and autumnal reading that didn’t lack fire when needed.  He’s most definitely a singer’s conductor and his support was apparent throughout in little ways that encouraged the cast to do their best. The chorus seemed a tad underpowered but that’s nothing new, I assure you.  Very evocative lighting by Duane Schuler including a nifty effect on the drop curtain during the prelude.

Lot’s of torches and gloom.  I’ll have to seek out the Covent Garden DVD now.

Photo by Robert Millard.


  • Lalala says:

    Petra-Maria Schnitzer is certainly still very active on the opera scene. That the writer hasn’t heard anything of her since the L.A. “Tristan UND Isolde” says more about the writer than it does about Ms. Schnitzer.

    • DurfortDM says:

      She is very active and had her Vienna debut at age 23. Neverthless a look at her schedule (for like forever) would show that she does indeed sing with hubby quite frequently in some rather posh venues. While its understandable that they would want to spend as much time together as they can listening to Frau Seiffert might induce one to believe that perhaps the quality of opportunities she get is not as closely correlated with her (no doubt considerable) vocal talents as it might be.

    • Patrick Mack says:

      Petra Maria Schnitzer never sang Isolde in LA and, if you look back at the 3rd paragraph of the piece where she is mentioned, I referred only to her Aridane in which I found her wanting nay, nearly disastrous, in an otherwise lovely production. I made no remarks about her current or future employability. I’m certain she’d make a lovely Marcellina.

      The Isolde we had, in her role debut, who was also wanting and was never invited back, was Renate Belhe.

      • Lalala says:

        The way the paragraph is constructed could lead one to believe you were talking about Ms Schnitzer.. As that is not the case, I stand corrected and I apologize for casting doubt on your expertise.

  • dallasuapace says:

    If one says “Les troyens” when speaking English, it sounds very precious and, quite possibly, the people being addressed will have no idea what is being said and not even any idea how to spell what is being said.

    • Clita del Toro says:

      I guess that they used “The Trojans” so that some would think it was an opera about condoms? :+(

      • Camille says:

        No doubt, you hit the nail squarely upon its head with this assertion, Clita del T., as subtle marketing associations do work, don’t they.

        I remember this Trojans extravaganza and was there at the time but didn’t go. Now I’m sorry I resisted, but the thought then of Carol Neblett singing Didon in a pith helmet was stretching it too far for me.

        • lorenzo.venezia says:

          early zambello, but it was fun.

          • Henry Holland says:

            Not a bad production, and it was great to be able to hear all of Berlioz’ masterpiece in one sitting, but the ballet rightly got booed (the crowd had no problem guessing where to do that). It was basically some gymnasts cavorting around on rubber bands that came down from the top of the stage, it was just awful.

          • lorenzo.venezia says:

            mercifully my memory fails me on the ballet ;-)

          • Camille says:

            Oh no. Now I’m really sorry to have missed vintage Cesca.

            lorenzo, one of my baby opera experiences was Sutherland at the Shrine in Sonnambula. Were you at that one, too? Gad, that place was GiNORmous!

          • lorenzo.venezia says:

            Camille, I heard that Sonnambula at War Memorial (I had left LA for university at Berkeley), but yes, Shrine is GINORMOUS-- if you recall they’d have to drop in a fake proscenium on the circus-sized stage. But I heard (several) of her 61 Lucias there.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

          TROJANS were worth millions to these people

      • Pelleas says:

        Or the USC Trojans marching band.

      • papopera says:

        horrible cliché !!

      • Loge says:

        I always wondered why the condom company chose the name Trojan. The Greeks actually got through!

    • papopera says:

      must be the same type of unilingual people who go to the opera to hear The Force of Destiny, The Misguided Woman, The Twilight of the Gods and The Valkyr, the Rose Bearer, The Earl of Ory, The Khovansky Affair and the Golden Cock.

      • manou says:

        Do they have a problem when they go to Traviata or Bohème?

      • ianw2 says:

        Yeah, but they probably also go to The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville, The Magic Flute, The Merry Widow and The Pearl Fishers.

        Some operas lend themselves to a title translation more readily than others. And kashania is right. Its a lot easier to sell something in the native language than it is in the foreign language, but even then, nobody tries to put ‘The Bohemians’ or ‘The Clemency of Titus’ or ‘The Cavalier of the Rose’ on a poster.

        And, for the love of god, please nobody tell our correspondent about the work of ENO.

        • oedipe says:

          ‘Le Chevalier à la rose’
          ‘La Clémence de Titus’
          ‘Le Vaisseau Fantôme’

          • ianw2 says:

            To say nothing about:

            ??????? ??????

            Translating that is blatant false advertising.

          • ianw2 says:

            Ha, sad faces. Basically, it was a popular Russian opera rendered in Russian.

            If we’re so upset about a measly little ‘und’ becoming ‘and’, surely we’re ENRAGED that Onegin, Boris and Khovas are EVERY DAY rendered in English transliteration.

          • manou says:

            …sans oublier “Le Trouvère” (dont la couleur pourrait prêter à équivoque)…

          • Actually, actually….
            Le vaisseau fantome IMO is an INFINITELY better title than ‘the flying Dutchman’.

          • ianw2 says:

            “The Insistence of Truth” is certainly dramatic, but not as catchy and mysterious as the original.

          • ianw2 says:

            “Lord John” somehow renders that opera about as sexy as a trip to the dentist. This is a fun game.

          • oedipe says:

            ‘Mr. Charles’?

      • The Golden Cock. Would like to go see that one.

    • whatever says:

      i know i’m already over my limit here, but: i’m sorry — presumably if one utters the name of an opera, it is in a conversation about (or about to be about) … um … OPERA. In that context, how on earth can the use of a foreign language sound “precious”?!?!?

      • whatever says:

        wow — sorry, either the site is acting oddly or my last glass of vino was one too many … but that most recent post was meant to be in response to the comment WAAAAAYYYYY above about the use of the original “les troyens” having the potential to sound “precious”.

  • brooklynpunk says:

    “..The walls of the Music Center and the Dorothy Chandler are like a mausoleum of long dead contributors. The program for Boccanegra literally lists hundreds of donors”


    What cultural institution, in The U.S, (at least) doesn’t do exactly the same thing??

    (..I DID enjoy the review, however…thanks!)

    • Phoenicia Pomegranate says:

      And to add insult to injury, the acoustics of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion are really, really lousy.

  • Loved reading such a glowing review of AMM’s work. So right about dead-centre pitch. I love her dark sound, her easy legato and musicianship. I’d love to hear her Amelia one of these days. I hope she makes it into DVDs and maybe (maybe) some high profile audio recs. We already have some Albeniz, Jewish music, her Rusalka and of course her Fiordiligi on DVD. I hope she gets a major commercial breakthrough. She deserves it.

    • Camille says:

      I think so, too, Cerquetty.
      Wonder why the Met has not got her on the roster? Maybe in the past and I just haven’t noticed.

      • I think she has sung (what? Mimi?) there already, and Violetta at the Garden. And of course Cio Cio at the Lyric and Amsterdam. But there’s no ‘buzz’ around her. Personally I think she’s eons better qualified for this music than Radvanovsky or (heaven forbid) La Poplavskaya. But what do I know.

        • Camille says:

          What do you know?

          A whole hell of a lot more than most, that’s what.

          I wonder who her agent/manager is? Maybe that’s the problem.

          • :) Oy

            IMG artists! Are they nuts? She should be doing Elisabettas and Donna Annas around the world. And she can ‘act’. Maybe Popsy ‘acts’ better. MM.

            Anyway here’s a gorgeous Libera me>

          • oedipe says:

            Martinez will be singing at the ROH this season and at the Paris Opera next season (Alice Ford), so it’s not as if she were absent from the major circuit.

          • Camille says:

            Cerquetty, have you heard this little gem? I have always been fond of this song and have never heard it sung so beautifully as this, although the clip is spliced a little funny.

            ANA MARIA LA O!

            A beautifully placed voice.

          • Ach Camilly whaddayatalking about, I have this DVD next to my bed!!!!


          • DurfortDM says:

            CF knows nothing about voices. His opinions should be ignored.:-)

          • DurfortDM says:

            Hey! That was supposed to be a smiley face at the end.

          • Camille says:

            I’d rather live in hell with C/F than be in heaven with a hell of a lot of angels.

          • kashania says:

            Thank you for the AMM clips. I loved the “Libera me”.

          • Camilly, I can’t laugh! My back is completely cramped. Yikes. It hoits so much.

            Kashy I loved your Trovatore clips. Yummy-yum!

          • DurfortDM says:

            Sundry HTML infelicities notwithstanding that was a joke. It is of course well known that CF’s knowledge of things operatic (and choral and symphonic) is rather disturbingly if edifyingly encyclopedic.

          • I think I should go now…

        • louannd says:

          I heard Ms. Martinez sing Mimi last year which I found to be luscious and homogenous in character. She did look rather bored but then she was singing it with that lump David Lomeli who was very timid in the more intimate scenes.

          A few months later I heard her sing Rosina in Houston where she sounded completely accurate and again very homogenous, but, of course, without the depth of a mezzo. Despite the really inane production, she seemed ecstatic and happy on the stage, but then she was with Nathan Gunn, Kyle Ketelsen, Lawrence Brownlee, and Patrick Carfizzi.

          • Yes I DO prefer mezzo Rosinas. I know what you mean.

            Still, if the voice has preserved the agility for Rosina despite it having grown and darkened considerably in the last 8 years, then she must be doing a lot right with the voice.

            Here’s a very early (and lovely) Violetas imperiales. She sounds uncannily like the young VDLA. Now there’s more Sena-like depth to the tone.

            The way the voice has changed is very noticeable. But there’s still agility and refinement.

        • peter says:

          According to the Met Archives, Ana Maria Martinez has sung only one role at the Met and that was Micaela in 2005. I didn’t realize that she had even sung there. As we all know, there have and will always be great singers that either don’t make it to the Met or have a very short stay there.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Right! like, Cecilia Gasdia, who sang Juliette at the Met with Kraus--and I loved it.

        • lorenzo.venezia says:

          my baritone friend Mark was very excited about her Mimi when I went to Santa Fe last year, but she was sick the night I went. boo hoo. I look forward to hearing her more on the basis of her Cosi!

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Years ago I heard AMM’s Mimi on the radio and was very impressed. Don’t remember where it was from.

    • brooklynpunk says:

    • Andrew Powell says:

      AMM was warmly praised for the two Albéniz operas you mention, “Merlin” and “Henry Clifford.” She has also recorded “Florencia en el Amazonas,” Glass’s “La belle et la bête,” “Pagliacci” in Catania (opposite Bocelli), and “The Song of Majnun.”

  • Camille says:

    Patrick, don’t worry about the dress code, as I have seen a man at the Metropolitan Opera got up in Hawaiian shirt and shorts at a Ring Cycle at least a dozen years back. After that, I was vaccinated.

    And I’m surprised none of the grammar and spelling police has brought this up before, but the aria from Fidelio is “Abscheulicher”, not “AUbscheulicher”. Unfortunately, La Cieca’s spellcheck must be sleeping like Fafner.

    • Patrick Mack says:

      It’s not the casual dress I object to it’s the crazy pseudo formal get ups. Fur coats and floor length gowns that would only be appropriate on a New Year’s Eve cruise from Las Vegas to Hell.

      I saw I guy in a plaid, forest green, tuxedo. Wow.

      I was trying to spell the aria title from memory, oops ( or whatever its German equivalent is ).

      • joninkc says:

        My one and only experience seeing an opera in LA was in 1989 while there on a long business trip. It was Tosca with Maria Ewing and Neil Shicoff. I remember nothing of the performance. I do, however, remember leaving the auditorium afterwards and noticing next to me a man clutching a hand to his chest as he supported a small dog nestled inside his shirt — it’s head just sticking out from the neck of the man’s short sleeve polo shirt.

        For me, this became one of my favorite “only in LA” moments.

  • Mme Friedrich was unspeakably bad in almost everything she did. Her Bayreuth Elsa is really a gem in that respect. She stands out in an age not particularly laudable for its memorable singing, and that says a lot.

  • Henry Holland says:

    I’ve seen some great stuff at my hometown opera company: a great Salome with Maria Ewing in the wonderful Peter Hall production (another package deal, that); the Die Frau Ohne Schatten mentioned earlier, a terrific Tristan AND Isolde in the fab David Hockney production; a searing production of Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten with James Conlon “getting it” and Robert Brubaker just heartbreaking as Alviano, all done on a $1.29 budget etc.

    So, Domingo leaves next year, what then? He leaves another mess in his wake (see Washington National Opera), who’s going to want the job that has any clout? There’s still the Ring expenses to pay off for one thing…..

    I like the Dot for opera (when it’s not being used for pieces that have no business being done there like the Britten chamber operas) but it’s badly in need of a facelift. That’s the Music Center’s responsibility, but I have no idea if the plans they outlined a few years are going to happen. In any case, I can’t wait for the Bolshoi Ballet to arrive to do Swan Lake, I’m going three times.

    • lorenzo.venezia says:

      yeah, that Ewing/Hall Salome was searing, saw it several times. wasn’t so mad about the (IMO) cartoony Hockney Tristan (Jeanine Altmeyer was not an Isolde for the ages); but remember a great Wozzeck ca. 90ish??, Zschau’s Elektra was rather Elektrafying, and Gerald Scarfe’s truly rolling Offenbach Orphee that was very memorable!

      • lorenzo.venezia says:

        rolling = rolicking

      • Henry Holland says:

        I saw the revival of the Hockney Tristan, as usual I can’t remember who the singers were.

        Yeah, that Wozzeck was awesome, Simon Rattle conducted, it was another package deal with his then wife Elise Ross.

        Yes, the first Zschau Elektra in that Adobe/Southwest production was wonderful.

        It was before my time as an opera queen but I’d love to have seen the LAO Fiery Angel, great as the Kirov production of it in San Francisco was.

        • lorenzo.venezia says:

          I saw that one. It was also elektra-fying :-)

        • lorenzo.venezia says:

          I don’t know about the revival, but in the original run of the Hockney Tristan the much-touted laser light system was louder and more chattery than THE MACHINE! very distracting. Rattle during his LA tenure not only did that sensational Wozzeck, but, with Phil, the best Sacre du Printemps I’ve ever heard live and a stupendous Mahler 2. I’m not sure why, but he seems to have lost some of the sacro fuoco recently??? heard some disappointing things. But when I remember that Sacre. OMG. Hair stood on end.

          • Camille says:

            had the same reaction myself, the little I’ve heard him. His Gurrelieder at Carnegie Hall was to die for--about 9 or 10 years ago. The Pelleas at the Met in late 2010 was, I dunno, the only word that springs to mind is ‘meh’. Maybe he’s just tired out and will come back at a certain point in time to his former fire. Hard telling.

          • lorenzo.venezia says:

            Camille, did you happen to hear the LA Gurrelieder with Jessye @ 1989?? My oh my!

          • Camille says:

            No, lorenzo, I’m sorry to say I didn’t. Reckon that Jess was singing Tove in those days? Was that still under Rattle, I guess so, huh?

            I heard Jessye with the Philharmonic once, and I’ve been trying to recall it to mind since discussion of her on the other thread — I seem to recall some Mahler songs (Um Mitternacht) and, if I am not just totally making shit up, I think she sang the Immolation Scene, but I just cannot recall for sure. Parterre is the only thing that keeps my memory garden weeded out. There is so much in it now, good and bad, that some of it is starting to fade from memory and some of it gets a little mixed up….

          • lorenzo.venezia says:

            ca. 1990 she did a NYPO concert with Mehta (I think) which had Mahler and an absolutely hair-raising Liebestod that made me nuts…

          • Andrew Powell says:

            Rattle’s “Wozzeck” was 1988, fwiw. Jessye sang “Vier letzte Lieder” with the Phil under Järvi père in 1989. Not sure about the “Gurrelieder”; the Phil and Zubin did it with Hotter in maybe 1986, possibly with Norman.

          • Phoenicia Pomegranate says:

            The Gurrelieder I heard in LA with La Jessye was in 1990. She was indeed Tove and IMO Flo Quivar wiped the floor with her as the Woodbird. Jessye worked hard at being “radiant”, I suppose to distract us from the fact that her top was just not working that day.

          • kashania says:

            Camille: As Lorenzo has said, Jessye did a concert with Mehta when she sang the Ruckert Lieder and an incandescent Liebstod.

            A few years, however, she sang a concert with Masur of a few Strauss songs and the Immolation Scene. Both performances are on youtube and the difference is notable. Jessye still had a few good moments in the latter concert but she had trouble with pitch and ran out of voice at the end of the Immolation. Nothing compared to her performance only five years (?) earlier.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            I recall the Immolation scene with Jessye and Masur, I saw that on tv. She was drowning by the end, it was a bit sad. And didn’t she wear some awful white frock with some ugly bloody splotches all over it?????

          • kashania says:

            Immolation, NYP, Opening Night 1994:

            Liebestod, NYP, Opening Night 1989:

            What a difference five years made!

    • Andrew Powell says:

      The 1987 “Tristan & Isolde” was of course *Jonathan Miller’s* capable production, with memorable sets by David Hockney.

    • Ilka Saro says:

      The “Dot”? Is that shorthand for the “Dot” Chandler Pav? Love it!

      When I was in second grade (67 or 68), my Uncle took me to a Philharmonic performance there that included Petrushka of Stravinsky. I remember very little about the music, nothing really, but being so thrilled by the building, which must have been quite new at the time. All marble and red plush. Now I see pictures and think “Wow, yes, in the 60s we thought buildings like that were very stylish.”

      How could the acoustics be in such a barn? Is it like the State Theater in Lincoln Center, i.e., not kind to human voices?

  • ianw2 says:

    How dare Chevy Chase donate to the opera! Desecration of the temple!

    • Henry Holland says:

      I think both the opera and the Philharmonic have pretty much given up on the fantasy that they will be able to tap in that sweet, sweet Hollywood money in a big way. They did things like the Philharmonic commissioning short films with a popular film composer supplying the music. It was supposed to be a whole series, I don’t think it made it past the first two.

      As a friend said “Why would Hollywood give a damn about the symphony or the opera? They’re the most popular form of entertainment in the world, they don’t give a damn about any “class” those two give them.

      • ianw2 says:

        That they haven’t tapped into Hollywood is one of the most critical failings of LAO, in my mind (though wasn’t Woody Allen’s Gianni supposed to be quite great?).

        But if they approached it with “we can give you some classy sophistication”, they deserved to fail. The relationship should be one of mutual respect and creativity, not a cheap attempt to be hip*/cheap attempt to appear sophisticated. Of course apart from keeping Shore and Howard (of Titanic fame) a million miles away from any commission, I’m not sure what form this relationship should take, so I’m not being huge helpful.

        One thing DC did well (still does well?) is its relationships with the political elite, but then again there is probably more of a natural Venn diagram between Supreme Court Justices/Opera than there is between Hollywood/Opera (prove me wrong, LA!).

        (*- the gold standard for ‘cheap attempt to be hip’ remains, as always, ENO’s abortive Asian Dub Foundation opera on Qaddafi)

        • warmke says:

          @ianw2 DC’s relationship’s to the Supreme’s predate’s Domingo, of course; Scalia and Ginsberg were present as extras in the 94 “Ariadne” opening night. long before PD was a gleam in a certain board member’s headboard.

    • brooklynpunk says:



      • ianw2 says:

        I hope at least she had the decency to be properly dressed, not applaud when she ought not to applaud and to make sure to pronounce the title of the opera with the full correct Italian pronunciation, no matter how affected it may make her appear.

  • DonCarloFanatic says:

    I can’t bear it.

    The plural of a noun in English does not require an apostrophe: “I live next to the Browns.”

    The plural possessive takes the apostrophe after the s: “I live next to the Browns’ house.”
    Even if you shorten it to say, “My house is next to the Browns’, the apostrophe without the following noun still goes after the s.

    Note, a comma does not go inside an apostrophe, only inside a single quote inside a double quote: “The Browns’, a ‘house of ill repute,’ is my favorite hangout,” said Ralph.

    • Sheldon says:

      Someone’s been studying their Lynne Truss! “Eats, shoots and leaves” is one of my favorite grammarian tracts.

  • brunettino says:

    The Wozzeck I saw at LA Opera in the late 80s is singed into my brain. It remains a cultural touchstone — I still freeze at the memory of “Herr … Haupt--mann?”. I also saw a terrific Fidelio and good Madama Butterfly. I was living in LA in my 20s on next to nothing wages and yet somehow snagged good enough seats to vividly experience this all, and it seemed as fundamental and necessary as the beach and the sun. So — bravo LA Opera, and rock on, whatever your struggles, (and this is from someone who did not see their Ring but pretty much loathed it from afar).