L.A. Opera to present 'Macbeth,' 'Akhnaten' and Leonard Bernstein tribute in 2016-17

A new production of Verdi's "Macbeth" starring Plácido Domingo and the company premiere of Philip Glass' "Akhnaten" will kick off the 2016-17 season at Los Angeles Opera, leaders are expected to announce on Tuesday.

The company also will present the first installment of a planned three-year tribute to Leonard Bernstein, leading to the 2018 centenary of the American composer's birth.

L.A. Opera will present six main-stage productions at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the 31st season, which starts in September. In addition, it will produce a semi-staged production of Bernstein's "Wonderful Town" in December. 

The company will mark its 30th anniversary with an open house on Oct. 8 that will be free to the public and will feature live performances, plus an appearance by Domingo, who is L.A. Opera's general director.

Speaking by phone from Miami where he is performing in a concert, Domingo said the company is in a fortunate position for its 30th anniversary "because we have a great board [of directors], and thanks to them we have been able to do many, many things."

He said he still aims to expand the company's roster of six offerings: "I think we are looking forward, if not this season then maybe the next one, to go with more productions." 

Domingo turned 75 last week. "I like to say I'm three times 25," he joked.  

The singer said doesn't know how many more years he will lead L.A. Opera, but "I hope that in the next five years, let's say, we can really bring the company into the way we were" before the global financial crisis.

The new production of "Macbeth" (Sept. 17 to Oct. 16) will be directed by Darko Tresnjak, who won a Tony Award for directing "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" and created L.A. Opera's recent revival of "The Ghosts of Versailles." Domingo will play the title role in "Macbeth" -- a baritone part that he recently added to his repertoire -- and company Music Director James Conlon will conduct. 

"Akhnaten" (Nov. 5 to 27) will be presented in a new co-production with the English National Opera, directed by Phelim McDermott. Matthew Aucoin, the 25-year-old conductor-composer who was recently named L.A. Opera's upcoming artist in residence, will lead the performances, with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo playing the title role.

The opera, which debuted in 1984, tells the story of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, also known as Amenhotep IV, who introduced widespread religious changes to his dominion. It will mark the first time that the company has performed the opera. 

"It's a piece for which I have a particular affection, both in terms of content and craft," said Christopher Koelsch, L.A. Opera's president and chief executive, in an interview.  

"Akhnaten" is part of Glass' loose trilogy of biographical operas that includes "Einstein on the Beach," presented by L.A. Opera in 2013, and "Satyagraha," loosely based on the life of Mohandas Gandhi.

"Wonderful Town" will have three semi-staged performances, led by conductor Grant Gershon, from Dec. 2 to 4. Koelsch said he was unable to discuss future productions for the three-year tribute to Bernstein, who was born in 1918. 

The new season will include L.A. Opera's first performances of Mozart's "The Abduction From the Seraglio" in 21 years. The revival production (Jan. 28 to Feb. 19, 2017) comes from Opera Pacific and is set during the Roaring '20s. 

Soprano Patricia Racette will play the title role in Strauss' "Salome," (Feb. 18 to March 19, 2017) in a revival of Peter Hall's staging that was first presented in L.A. Opera's 1986 inaugural season.

Rounding out the season will be revivals of "The Tales of Hoffmann" (March 25 to April 15, 2017), starring soprano Diana Damrau in her company debut, and conducted by Domingo; and "Tosca" (April 22 to May 13, 2017), with soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.

"There's always the need to balance a season between different periods, between what is familiar and what is new," said Conlon, who will conduct "Seraglio" and "Tosca."

"You can't get it all. You try to get everything represented maybe over two seasons."

L.A. Opera will continue its Off-Grand series of smaller, edgier projects presented in venues outside the Chandler.

Aucoin will compose a new score for the silent film classic "Nosferatu" (Oct. 29 and 31), screening at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown L.A.

The roster also includes the West Coast premiere of Ted Hearne's "The Source" (Oct 19-23), which explores the controversy around U.S. Army soldier Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and the WikiLeaks scandal.

On March 18, Domingo and soprano Renée Fleming will perform a special concert at the Chandler to mark the 30th anniversary of L.A. Opera. The program for the concert hasn't been announced but is expected to include famous arias and other operatic favorites.  

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT 

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