From the Desk of Jonathan Pell, Artistic Director – LA Opera Part I

by Megan Meister

The LA Opera poster for DON GIOVANNI

I flew out to Los Angeles yesterday to hear the singers in the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program and to attend performances of Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI and Verdi’s I DUE FOSCARI.

Six new singers join two returning artists to comprise the “class” of 2013, and among them is soprano Amanda Woodbury, whom some of you will remember was the 2nd place winner and audience favorite recipient in last year’s Dallas Opera Vocal Competition.  It will be wonderful to see how she develops in this prestigious program.

Much to my surprise and delight I unexpectedly ran into mezzo-soprano Susan Graham before the performance (who was in Los Angeles visiting friends) and we had a chance to “catch up.”  Susan is terribly excited about finally making her Dallas Opera debut this spring, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to sing “Tina” in THE ASPERN PAPERS.

It intrigued me that Susan wanted to see this Peter Stein production of DON GIOVANNI, because she had been the “Donna Elvira” when this production was first done several years ago at Lyric Opera of Chicago.  What a different perspective it must be to be “out front” watching it from being on stage performing it!

Last night’s production starred Italian heart throb Ildebrando D’Arcangelo in the title role, and he was terrific.  Serbian-Israeli bass David Bizic was making his US debut as “Leporello” and he was also wonderful.  Another singer making his US debut was Russian tenor Andrej Dunaev who was an excellent Don Ottavio.  Romanian mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu, who sang “Stephano” in ROMEO AND JULIETTE two seasons ago in Dallas, was the delightful “Zerlina” and Julianna Di Giacomo and Soile Isokoski were both very good as “Donna Anna” and “Donna Elvira” respectively.

Tonight I am looking forward to hearing Verdi’s rarely performed I DUE FOSCARI, with Placido Domingo and Francesco Meli as the father and son Francesco and Jacopo Foscari of the title, with soprano Marina Poplavskaya as “Lucrezia.”

I have never had the chance to see a production of this opera before, so for me, it will be like going back in time to 1844 and attending the world premiere.

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