News for September/October 2004


LOS ANGELES -- The winners of the 12th annual OPERALIA competition were recently announced. Held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with Placido Domingo conducting the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, the contest's $50,000 first prize went to tenor Woo Kyung Kim. Soprano Nataliya Kovalova (Ukraine) took the $35,000 second prize, tenor Dmitry Voropaev (Russia) won the $20,000 third prize. Eight other prizes were awarded, including People's Choice, which also went to Kovalova.

Forty-three singers age thirty and under from twenty different countries competed in three elimination stages. Seventeen singers competed in "The Final Contest."

Placido Domingo founded OPERALIA in 1992, and the competition serves not only to showcase young singers during the competition but to also provide them with guidance at an early stage of their careers. OPERALIA is open to all singers, regardless of economic means, and the contest provides support for the competing artists, including transportation and housing for all selected contestants.

Past winners include Simone Alberghini, Nina Stemme, Jose Cura and Elizabeth Futral, among many others.

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LOS ANGELES -- This Fall, productions of Mozart's IDOMENEO and Richard Strauss' ARIADNE AUF NAXOS launched Los Angeles Opera's 2004-05 season, with such singers as Placido Domingo, Peter Seiffert, Petra Maria Schnitzer, Lioba Braun and Veronica Villaroel featured.

Two previously announced IMOMENEO cast members, Angelika Kirschschlager and Anna Netrebko, were forced by circumstances to drop out of singing three performances of the opera. Their alternates, Kate Aldrich and Adriana Damato, sang all seven performances of the Mozart classic, under the direction of Vera Calabria. L.A. Opera's music director Kent Nagano led the company's orchestra and chorus.

Kirschschlager said she had to withdraw because she was exhausted after her recent appearances at the Salzburg Festival. Netrebko's management stated that her unusually heavy schedule this summer promoting her new CD and DVDs caught her off guard. "She realized that she could not give the performances of the quality she would want to give Los Angeles audiences and she regretfully asked general director Placido Domingo to release her from the three Idomeneo dates."

Alternating with Domingo in the opera's title role was Allan Glassman. The production was originally created for Flanders Opera, Belgium.

Strauss' comic romance ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, which has a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, was directed by William Friedkin, the director of such Oscar-winning films as The French Connection and The Exorcist. Friedkin is no stranger to the operatic world, having directed a double bill--Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Gianni Schicci at L.A. Opera two years ago. He also directed Berg's Wozzeck in Florence for conductor Zubin Mehta, and is scheduled to direct future opera productions in Tel Aviv, Munich and Turin.

At L.A. Opera Friedkin has been given a near carte blanche that movie directors seldom enjoy. "That's what I love about this," he said in an interview with the L.A. Times. "With a film, one has to get every single detail approved, even though the project is all about the director. At best in opera, it's a collaboration. Curiously, I've been given great flexibility--no one looks over my shoulder. Yet the first order of business is the music. All else is second to that."

Friedkin's production has a set design by architect Edwin Chan, partner in design at Frank O. Gehry & Associates. Gehry designed the home of L.A. Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall.

In related news, Los Angeles Opera announced that Kent Nagano would step down as music director in 2006, the year when he will assume two important new posts, the music directorships of the Bavarian State Opera (Munich) and Canada's Montreal Symphony.

Nagano said, "It is with sincere regret that I will leave my post at Los Angeles Opera, but the reality is that my responsibilities in Munich and Montreal will be so all-encompassing that I will not be able to fulfill any other musical and administrative duties. I will also give up my current position as music director of Berlin's Deutsche Symphony. Of course, I hope to return to this company with its wonderful orchestra, chorus and staff, and especially my friends Placido and Edgar (Baitzel), as guest conductor in the future, and I certainly look forward to our ongoing collaboration during the two remaining seasons of my contract."

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave. For tickets and information call (213) 972-8001 or visit 

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