Last summer Gustavo Dudamel headed an “Americas & Americans” festival with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl that kept him busy and all over the map for two weeks, along with a concert performance of Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” This year the L.A. Phil’s moving-target music director returns to the Bowl with an opposite, highly focused agenda -- one week, one composer, two works, three nights.
It’s basically a Verdi festival, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth, and it begins Sunday with “Aida” and concludes with “Requiem.”
The concert performance of “Aida” will be Dudamel’s warm-up before he conducts a full production of the opera on a La Scala tour of Japan. Angelenos don’t get the staging, but we do get the more stellar cast.
L.A.’s Aida, the Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska, was said to have had a triumphant Metropolitan Opera debut in the role last season. The cast includes the luscious American mezzo Michelle DeYoung and the increasingly important American bass Eric Owens, whose appearances in John Adams works with the L.A. Phil and in the title role in Los Angeles Opera’s premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s “Grendel” have been star turns. The Spanish tenor Jorge de León also takes part.
The “Requiem,” the next big work Verdi composed after “Aida,” follows on Tuesday and Thursday, again with notable casting.
For Verdi’s highly dramatic tour of the terrors and treats suggested by a world after death (a vision as Dante-esque as divine in many ways), the L.A. Phil has chosen two of the opera world’s sexier young male singers as guides: tenor Vittorio Grigolo and bass Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, both of whom have been striking at L.A. Opera. The women will be DeYoung and soprano Julianna Di Giacomo. The Los Angeles Master Chorale, which was a highlight of Dudamel’s performance of “Requiem” at Walt Disney Concert Hall four years ago, is the chorus for all the concerts.