From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell, California Part II

by Jonathan Pell

Yesterday afternoon I heard all the singers in the Los Angeles Opera’s young artist program.  Unlike many of the other similar programs around the country, the Los Angles program really draws on singers from around the world rather focusing just on Americans, and this group had representatives from Russia, Korea and Mexico, as well as from the United States.

I was delighted that the most polished singer yesterday was Amanda Woodbury, a soprano who has twice placed second in the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, and who was invited to join the LA Opera ensemble by Joshua Winograde, who oversees the program, after hearing her as a judge for the Dallas competition.  Her residency in Los Angeles comes to an end soon, but she has grown tremendously under the program, and is being rewarded with a performance of “Micaëla” in their current production of CARMEN later this week.  She is certainly someone to keep an “ear” on.

Last night’s performance of CARMEN starred Brandon Jovanovich as “Don Jose”, who leaves the run in Los Angeles on Sunday to begin rehearsals on Monday in Dallas for the same role.  It will be interesting to see how he approaches this role in what will be a very different production in Dallas.

The most obvious difference will be that LA Opera chose to do the revised version of the piece with the somewhat clunky sung recitatives composed by Ernest Guiraud, rather than using the spoken dialogue of the original version.  For me the sung “recits” seem to slow down the action and robs the opera of some of its dramatic power.

Brandon has now sung this role in virtually every major opera house (including the Met and Chicago in this country and throughout Europe) so we are really happy that Dallas audiences will get to experience him in it, too.  At the very beginning of his career, Brandon made his Dallas Opera debut in school matinee performances of “Pinkerton” in MADAME BUTTERFLY, and has returned many times since, including mainstage performances of BUTTERFLY in the inaugural season of the Winspear Opera House in 2010.

We look forward to welcoming him back!

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