By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the above papers.
Although Los Angeles Opera’s 2012-2013 season isn’t particularly adventurous, the company’s two opening productions do have interesting aspects that may make them worth investing your time and money.
The season opens Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with a new production of Verdi’s rarely performed I Due Foscari, a work that probably wouldn’t be exhumed except that it provides another baritone role for Plácido Domingo.
Nonetheless, says LAO Music Director James Conlon: “This opera represents an important step in the development of Verdi’s style and musical vocabulary, in which he gradually transforms the inherited culture of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini into a language of his own, quintessentially defining and personifying the Italian 19th century.”
Other performances will take place on Sept. 20 and 29 and Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 23 and Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. A concert performance will be presented on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts. Conlon will conduct all seven performances. KUSC-FM will broadcast the opening-night performance.
The role of Francesco Foscari will be the 140th in Domingo’s long and illustrious career. Most of those were in the tenor range but, of late, the 71-year-old Spaniard — who also doubles as LAO’s general director — has returned to baritone roles (he began singing in that lower register). Italian tenor Francesco Meli appears with Domingo in the role of Jacapo Foscari and Russian soprano Marina Poplavskaya will portray Jacapo’s wife, Lucrezia Contanini.
This will be the only new production in the LA Opera season; it will move on to Valencia, Vienna and London after its L.A. premiere. Thaddeus Strassberger makes his LAO debut as director.
I Due Foscari will run in tandem with Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which opens on Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. and runs for seven performances using a production created in 2004 for Chicago Lyric Opera. Other performances are Sept. 28 and Oct. 3, 6 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 20 and Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. KUSC will broadcast the Oct. 3 performance.
At least part of the interest will be to see how this production compares with the modernist take on the famous Don Juan tale created by Frank Gehry last spring for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo will perform the title role in the LAO production, joined by American sopranos Julianna Di Giacomo and Angela Meade. Gregory Fortner, who directed last season’s La Boheme for LAO, will oversee the production that was originally conceived by Peter Stein. Conlon will conduct the first five performances, while Domingo will step into the pit for the final two.
The Web site also has a number of background articles for each opera. Conlon will present pre-concert lectures an hour before each staged performance.
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.