A familiar look to L.A. Opera

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Opera will complement its previously announced 2008-09 season highlights -- a first foray into the Wagner “Ring” cycle, a new horror film-based opera and the directorial debut of Woody Allen -- mostly with revivals, the company announced Monday.

Planned are revivals of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and Verdi’s “La Traviata,” which join a $32-million “Ring” cycle designed and directed by German director Achim Freyer, Allen’s interpretation of Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” and Howard Shore’s “The Fly.”

The only other company premiere will be a production of Walter Braunfels’ “The Birds,” based on the play by Aristophanes. The opera is part of the company’s multiyear “Recovered Voices” project focusing on music suppressed by the Nazis.


The complete season was announced in a news conference at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

“We are embarking on a number of firsts,” general director Placido Domingo said. “Every season should be a combination of different things. We have to look at the artistic and financial balance. The revivals are insurance for us.”

The budget for the season will be about $60 million, up from $20 million in 1999-2000, said company Chief Executive Marc I. Stern. There will be 67 performances of 11 operas.

Being staged again are Robert Wilson’s “Madame Butterfly,” Emilio Sagi’s “Carmen,” Peter Hall’s “Magic Flute” and Marta Domingo’s traditional version of “La Traviata,” which starred Renee Fleming in September 2006. Sharing the role of Violetta in Verdi’s tragedy will be Marina Poplavskaya, making her company debut, and Elizabeth Futral.

On the podium will be Grant Gershon in his new role as the company’s associate conductor.

Domingo will conduct the U.S. premiere of Shore’s “The Fly.” Company music director James Conlon will lead all other productions except for Bizet’s “Carmen,” which will be led by Emmanuel Villaume. Music Center President Stephen Rountree also said that renovation of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion would begin next summer and take place in small stages over the following four summers. The building itself will be shut down for a major overhaul in 2013, he said, with the company offering shorter seasons before and after the renovation.

As previously announced, the season will open Sept. 6 with a new production of Puccini’s “Il Trittico,” a trio of one-act operas including Allen’s “Gianni Schicchi.” Director William Friedkin will stage the other two works, “Il Tabarro” (The Cloak) and “Suor Angelica” (Sister Angelica).

The production will be designed by Tony Award-winner Santo Loquasto, with lighting designed by Mark Jonathan.

“The Fly,” a co-production between L.A. Opera and the Theatre du Chatelet of Paris, will have its U.S. premiere Sept. 7. The opera, scheduled to have its world premiere in Paris on July 1, is based on director David Cronenberg’s 1986 horror film about a scientist who mutates into a human-fly hybrid. Cronenberg will be the opera’s stage director.

The libretto is by Los Angeles native David Henry Hwang. The sets will be designed by Academy Award-winner Dante Ferretti. Denise Cronenberg will design the costumes.

The four-opera “Ring” cycle will begin with seven performances each of “The Rhinegold” and “The Valkyrie.” “Siegfried” and “Twilight of the Gods” will follow in 2009-10. In the summer of 2010, the troupe will also present three full “Ring” cycles, in which all four operas will be performed in order over the course of a few days.