Opera confirms home renovation as it announces 2007-08 season

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Opera confirmed long-rumored renovations for the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion during a news conference Thursday announcing the company’s 2007-08 season. Highlighting the season will be the staging of two works that continue music director James Conlon’s mission to showcase composers whose careers were affected by the Nazi regime: the company premiere of Alexander Zemlinsky’s “Der Zwerg” (The Dwarf) and the U.S. premiere of Viktor Ullman’s “Der zerbrochene Krug” (The Broken Jug).

Company General Manager Placido Domingo said that the pavilion, the opera’s home, will be closed for a year for renovations. Music Center President Stephen Rountree said by phone that the renovation will happen no sooner than 2011 and will cost more than $100 million, which has yet to be raised. The pavilion will retain its historic 1960s look, but the interior will be “freshened up,” and the acoustics and backstage facilities will be updated.

The company likely will accommodate by presenting more productions in the fall right before the renovations and during the work will launch a Japanese tour. The company also will look for other Southern California venues for special projects during the closure.

Next year’s two premieres, both little-known operas to be performed on a double bill in February and March 2008, are part of a season that includes the company premiere of Leos Janacek’s “Jenufa,” a Metropolitan Opera production with Finnish soprano Karita Mattila making her company debut in the title role (Sept. 27-Oct. 7), and a revival of the company’s landmark production of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde,” designed by David Hockney, with John Treleaven in his company debut as Tristan and Linda Watson singing the role of Isolde (Jan. 19-Feb. 6, 2008).

“Der Zwerg” and “Der zerbrochene Krug” are part of the multi-year “Recovered Voices” series to present work suppressed by the Nazis, underwritten by a $3.25-million donation from opera board member Marilyn Ziering and other donations raised by Ziering that bring the total gift to $4 million.


Conlon said that L.A. Opera is the first major American opera company to present these works as well as compositions by Franz Schreker, Ernst Krenek and Erwin Schulhoff.

“Der Zwerg,” a dark comedy with libretto by Georg C. Klaren, was inspired by the Oscar Wilde fairy tale “The Birthday of the Infanta.” “Der zerbrochene Krug,” with music and libretto by Ullman, was completed in 1942 but did not receive its world premiere until 1996 in Dresden. It is based on the play by Heinrich von Kleist. Both operas will be directed by Darko Tresnjak, a Yugoslavia-born theater director who has worked for three years for the Old Globe Shakespeare Festival in San Diego.

The season, which runs from Sept. 8 to June 29, 2008, features 69 performances of nine productions. Domingo called the season “Los Angeles and the Giants” because of the inclusion of operas by Mozart, Wagner, Janacek and three by Puccini in celebration of the composer’s 150th birthday.

The season will open with a gala performance of Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” a production new to the company from Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia of Valencia, Spain, directed and designed by Pier’Alli and starring Anja Kampe and Klaus Florian Vogt in their company debuts.

Other productions are a revival of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” with bass Erwin Schrott in the title role (Nov. 24-Dec. 12); a revival of Puccini’s “La Boheme,” featuring 2006 Operalia winner Maija Kovalevska (Nov. 25-Dec.16); Verdi’s “Otello,” a production from Opera de Monte-Carlo with Ian Storey and Cristina Gallardo-Domas making their company debuts as Otello and Desdemona, respectively (Feb. 21-March 5, 2008); and revivals of Puccini’s “Tosca” (May 17-June 8, 2008) and “La Rondine” (The Swallow) (June 7-28, 2008). Domingo said that the company would also present a staged performance of Mahler’s orchestral song cycle “Das Lied von der Ende,” with dates and venue to be determined.

The company will present the Placido Domingo and Friends Gala on Sept. 9 and a solo recital performance by bass-baritone Bryn Terfel on April 20, 2008.

Domingo said that KUSC-FM (91.5) will broadcast 11 of the company’s performances from the current season, to begin airing in May, and made possible by a grant from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Times staff writer Mark Swed contributed to this report.