Having read Brian's preview of Daniel Catan's Il Postino, I realized I was going to have to make one more trip down to L.A. this year than I expected. In years past L.A. Opera has made it very easy to lure out-of-towners by programming two operas simultaneously that could be seen over a weekend. The pairings always worked pretty well with me, but for some reason this year they don't.
For starters, Il Postino sounded like a terrible idea to me, Domingo or not, and pairing its run with The Marriage of Figaro certainly wasn't going to induce me to go down there. No way. Ah, yes, Marcher eats his words again, though I'll skip the Figaro, thank you very much.
Then there's the new production of Lohengrin, directed by Lydia Steier, which seems destined to maintain LAO's track record of offending certain types of Wagnerites. In other words, this will likely be the highpoint of the entire season for me and with Ben Heppner in the title role leading a fantastic cast I cannot wait to see and hear this. But it's paired with Rigoletto. Now don't get me wrong, I think Rigoletto is one of Verdi's best. But I've seen it a lot in the last ten years and being totally unfamiliar with the cast, it holds no interest for me this time around.
Two potential pairings, two complete misfires and they only got me for Il Postino because Brian and I agree more often than not on what's good and what isn't and he's talking it up. But two out of the four is as far as I'm willing to go and hopefully there will be something interesting across the street at Disney Hall while I'm there for the second night.
At least the third pairing this spring truly works for me. Normally, Rossini's Il Turco in Italia would be something I would happily see at home but unlikely to travel 400 miles to see. But this is a sensational cast and I have every expectation this will be as good if not better than last year's Elixir. That run overlaps with Britten's The Turn of the Screw. That seals the deal. Two operas I really do want to see. So in a season of six operas they're getting me to want to see four. That's not bad at all, considering that here in San Francisco there's only one production in which I'm truly interested. The rest I'm so indifferent about I've yet to purchase any tickets.
This is the third season in a row I've found LA Opera to be more interesting than San Francisco and I'm glad Domingo will be sticking around as the boss for at least a couple of more years. Now please bring back the Recovered Voices program, which is a gaping hole in LAO's schedule this year. Instead, there's Mark Morris' L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, which is truly a delightful, thoughtful evening of music and dance I strongly recommend you attend. See you at the Dorothy Chandler.