News for September/October 2018


Verdi’s rich and somber DON CARLO was recently revived in spectacular fashion by Los Angeles Opera in a production featuring OPERA Placido Domingo as the freedom-fighting Rodrigo and Ramon Vargas as the crown prince of Spain. Both men showed off their remarkable vocal gifts, especially in the auto-da-fe scene in Act Two and the prison scene in Act Three.

photo: Cory Weaver
There were many other splendid voices to be heard in this 3 ½ -hour-long DON CARLO, notably Alexander Vinogradov as the tyrannical King Philip II, Anna Smirnova as the notorious Princess Eboli, and Ana Maria Martinez as the innocent young queen of Spain, Elisabeth De Valois. Musn’t forget Morris Robinson as the blind (literally and metaphorically) Grand Inquisitor–-and, of course, the LA Opera Chorus led by Grant Gershon. The one-hundred-strong chorus mightily embodied the struggling masses yearning for freedom in a totalitarian age (the height of the Spanish Empire).
The confrontations between church and state, father and son, son and stepmother are what give this opera its power and drama, especially when driven by Verdi’s thunderous music. Many consider DON CARLO his greatest work, topping his scores for “Otello” and “Falstaff.” In DON CARLO he deals bravely with the darkness upon the human soul, the horrors and injustices of the Inquisition.

photo: Cory Weaver

DON CARLO was first produced by LA Opera in 2006, with Ian Judge directing. Now director Louisa Miller (and designer John Gunter) have refurbished the production and given it new energy and vision, enhanced by James Conlon and the LA Opera orchestra.

DON CARLO closes at the end of October, but the good news is that, thanks to financial support from the Eisner Foundation, a video has been made of the production. Thus audiences around the country will soon be able to experience this thrilling grand opera.   

photo: Cory Weaver

This fall La Opera will also present SATYAGRAHA (Sanskrit for “truth force”) by Philip Glass, the third in his trilogy about great thinkers who changed the world. (The first two were “Einstein on the Beach” and “Ahknaten.”) Phelim McDermott directs, Sean Panikkar stars as Gandhi, with Grant Gershon conducting. The opera is sung in Sanskrit with projected English titles.
SATYAGRAHA is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s early years in South Africa, where he developed a radical new idea of nonviolent political resistance.
In a review of the British production of SATYGRAHA, Opera News said, “Sean Panikkar continued to position himself as one of the stars of his generation. His voice is unassailable–-firm, sturdy and clear, and he employs it with maximum dramatic intensity.”

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