L.A. Opera announces a star-filled '06-'07 season

Times Staff Writer

A cluster of star singers will add luster to Los Angeles Opera's 2006-07 season, when James Conlon debuts as the company's music director. Renee Fleming, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Rolando Villazon, Anna Netrebko and company general director Placido Domingo are among the high-powered talents set to appear at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 75 performances of 10 operas, with four of the productions to be conducted by Conlon.

The season, which Domingo and Conlon announced at a news conference Sunday at the Los Angeles Music Center, will open with a gala weekend Sept. 9 and 10. Its initial offering will be the first of three performances of a revival of the company's "La Traviata." Fleming, Villazon and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky will head the cast of the Marta Domingo production, to be conducted by Conlon.

A new production of a second Verdi opera, "Don Carlo," will open Sept. 10, staged by Ian Judge and featuring Salvatore Licitra, Annalisa Raspagliosi, Dolora Zajick and Lado Ataneli. Conlon will again conduct.

The season will also include the company premiere of Wagner's "Tannhauser," starring Peter Seiffert, and a new production of Kurt Weill's "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny," starring LuPone and McDonald and directed by John Doyle, who staged the current Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd."

Other highlights include company premieres of Massenet's "Manon," with Netrebko and Villazon; Monteverdi's "L'Incoronazione di Poppea," with Frederica von Stade, Susan Graham and David Daniels; and "Luisa Fernanda," a zarzuela or Spanish operetta, by Federico Moreno Torroba, starring Domingo, another step in Domingo's long-standing commitment to bring more zarzuela to Los Angeles audiences.

Domingo's parents were zarzuela singers, a career that led the family to leave Domingo's native Spain for Mexico when he was a child. "It was the first music I ever heard. It is very much in my blood," Domingo said.

For his part, Conlon cited Weill's "Mahagonny" as fitting in with his goal for L.A. Opera to present work by composers whose careers were affected by the Nazi regime.

Completing the season will be Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel," in a new production conducted by Santa Fe Opera music director Alan Gilbert and created by director and designer Douglas Fitch; Lehar's "The Merry Widow," with Graham in Lotfi Mansouri's San Francisco Opera production; and Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" in Francesca Zambello's Washington National Opera production, conducted by John DeMain.

Sopranos Deborah Voigt and Angela Gheorghiu will give separate recitals on Jan. 14 and May 17, respectively.

Other special events include free community performances in October at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of a new work titled "Concierto Para Mendez" by composer Lee Holdridge and librettist Richard Sparks. In January, the company will present special off-site performances of Britten's "Noye's Fludde."

The aggregate number of performances, including the two recitals, is up from 61 in the current season, for an increase of nearly 25%. The total of 10 productions compares with eight this season.

Opera company officials recently said that plans were on track for Los Angeles Opera to present its long-awaited production of Wagner's "Ring" over two seasons, 2008-09 and 2009-10. Both Domingo and artistic director Edgar Baitzel confirmed that plans have been solidified. Baitzel said details would be forthcoming in August, adding: "We already have an invitation to go with that 'Ring' to the Far East."

Online subscription renewals for the 2006-07 season will begin in late January and range from $207 to $1,980. New subscriptions will be available by late March. Single tickets will cost $30 to $220 and go on sale in mid-July.

The single ticket prices, according to the company, represent a 5% increase from the current season on weeknights and a 4% rise on weekends, while subscription prices reflect a 4% increase as well. The company will also offer two additional weekday orchestra ring subscriptions with a 3% increase.


Times staff writer Diane Haithman contributed to this report.

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