Los Angeles Opera's Euydice & Its New Season
Los Angeles Review by Willard Manus

The world premiere of EURYDICE, by librettist Sarah Ruhl and composer Matthew Aucoin, was a recent triumph for Los Angeles Opera, which co-produced the avant-garde work with Metropolitan Opera. A superb cast of singers, led by Daniele de Niese (as Eurydice), Rod Gilfry (as her father), Joshua Hopkins (as Orpheus) and Barry Banks (as Hades), delivered the vocal goods, backed up by Aucoin’s stirring score. Mary Zimmerman’s imaginative and daring direction–-characters descended to the underworld by elevator–-also helped give the ancient story a contemporary look and feel.

Based on Ruhl’s 2003 play (of the same name), the opera is an original take on the Greek fable about a beautiful nymph who, though trapped in the world of the dead, has a chance at a new life when her grief-stricken husband Orpheus is reunited with her. He uses his musical gifts to open the doors of Hades and lead her toward the light, only to make the fatal mistake of taking a forbidden look at her. He’s a bit of a jerk, this Orpheus, and the same can be said of Eurydice, a nervous wreck of a teenager who can’t stop mooning over the death of her father.

EURYDICE told a strange and curious story, but Aucoin’s score had many thrilling moments and the singing was of such a high order that ultimately all of the opera’s flaws could be overlooked. LA Opera has also announced its 2020-2021 season. Highlights are productions of “Tannhauser,” “Il Trovatore, “Aida” and “Don Giovanni.”

In addition to those classics, L.A. Opera has also scheduled works by such contemporary composers as Kevin Puts and Missy Mazzoli. The production of “Breaking the Waves” will mark the first time an artist has made the leap from L.A. Opera’s Off Grand new-music series to the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. (Off Grand introduced Mazzoli’s opera, “Songs From the Uproar” in 2015).

With the scheduling of “Tannhauser,” LA Opera breaks a seven-year Wagner drought. The last time the company scheduled a work by the famed German composer was in 2013, when it performed The Ring Cycle.

The Off Grand series will also include a Halloween concert and screening of Jordan Peele’s horror film “Get Out,” plus the West Coast premiere of Pulitzer-Prize winning Chinese composer Du Yun’s “In Our Daughter’s Eyes.”

“In putting together a new season, we’re looking for the greatest range of diversity of offerings, anchored by those monumental masterpieces, and additional work that represents the future of the art form,” said Christopher Koelsch, L.A. Opera’s president and chief executive.

He added that one of the company’s main concerns was giving audiences “multiple points of entry into an art form that can feel intimidating thanks to its historical scale....We should be reflective of the time and place in which we live.”

The season opens on Sept. 26, 2020 with Verdi’s tale of witchcraft and revenge, “Il Trovatore.” It will be followed by the U.S. introduction of acclaimed Norwegian director Stefan Herheim’s version of Rossini’s comic Cinderella story, “La Cenerentola” and by “The Brightness of Light.” Starring Renee Fleming and Rod Guilfry, this new opera is based on the love letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz.

For tickets and information visit laopera.org