OperaMark RudioLA Opera

In praise of James Conlon

OperaMark RudioLA Opera
James Conlon. Photo from LA Opera

The other day Isabella and I were discussing the differences between LA Opera and San Francisco Opera and naturally we ended up talking about conductors. Though Placido Domingo gets the lion's share of attention as the company's General Director and the world's most famous living opera singer, LAO wouldn't be where it is today without Music Director James Conlon. A tireless and passionate advocate of the art, Conlon is the company's not-so-secret weapon.

I've missed the "Recovered Voices" programming LAO has had to set aside during the current economic climate. The programming, featuring works by composers suppressed by the Nazis, has put some great productions on the stage of the Dorothy Chandler and it's Conlon's baby. However, the current lack of funds for "Recovered Voices" isn't stopping Conlon from bringing these works to the public. Over the weekend of January 20-22, he will conduct "a program inspired by [the] Recovered Voices series" at the Colburn School, just down the street from LA's Music Center. One has to admire the man's passion for this worthy project.

It's a double-feature of Viktor Ullman's one-act The Emperor of Atlantis, composed in 1943 while he was imprisoned in Terezin, paired with Ernst Krenek's The Secret Kingdom. Krenek emigrated to the U.S. after his works were labeled "degenerate" by the Nazis. Neither composers career was ever the same after the war.

Conlon will be conducting musicians from the Colburn School and the singers will be from the Domingo-Thornton Young Artists program. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 213 621 1050 or at colburnschool.edu/tickets. Conlon will be giving a lecture prior to each performance, which will surely be worth attending.