By Robert D. Thomas
Los Angeles Newspaper Group
(Pasadena Star-News-San Gabriel Valley Tribune-Whittier Daily News
Daily News-Daily Breeze/Long Beach Press-Telegram, et al)
“¡Figaro! (90201)” An LA Opera “Off-Grand” Production
Barnsdall Gallery Theatre; 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles 90027
Jan. 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $21 and $37
Information: 213/972-8001; www.laopera.org
Call it “The Green Card of Figaro” proclaimed the New York Times (LINK). Los Angeles Opera begins a three-month-long survey of operas based on the 18th century “Figaro” stage comedies of Pierre Beaumarchais with the staged premiere of ¡Figaro! (90210) in Hollywood’s Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, making this the first of the company’s “Off Grand” productions that truly deserves that moniker.
¡Figaro! (90210) was originally presented as a concert version by New York City’s Morningside Heights Opera in 2013.
Los Angeles-based librettist Vid Guerrerio has updated the opera as a contemporary look at the issue of immigration reform. Written in English and Spanglish to music from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. ¡Figaro! (90210) recasts the title character and his fiancé as undocumented Mexican workers in the present-day Beverly Hills mansion of a real estate mogul Paul Conti and his actress wife, Roxanne.
Figaro (Mexican baritone José Adán Peréz) is a handyman, while Susana (soprano Maria Elena Altany) is a maid and, well, you can click the tab to read the synopsis HERE. Suffice to say, lovers of the Mozart opera will easily be able to make the “translation” and, judging by several articles in New York publications, Guerrerio’s updating works just fine.
¡Figaro! (90210) is the first of several LAO productions that will focus on Beaumarchais’ “Figaro” trilogy. Beginning Feb. 7 in the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LAO will present the west coast premiere of John Corigliano’s The Ghost of Versailles, a work with enough twists and turns to be turned into its own opera.
The Metropolitan Opera had commissioned the work from Corigliano in 1980 in celebration of its 100th anniversary, with the premiere scheduled for 1983. However, Corigliano and his librettist took seven years to complete the opera, well past the initial deadline, so the opera received its premiere on December 19, 1991, at the Metropolitan Opera, which subsequently revived the opera in its 1994/1995 season.
Because the opera was designed for the Met’s enormous stage, it was only presented outside the Met by Lyric Opera Chicago (and that with some cuts). In 2008, on Corigliano’s recommendation, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland engaged composer John David Earnest to rework the score for chamber orchestra in order to make it suitable for performances in smaller houses.
The world and European première performances of this version, which is sung in English with English supertitles, took place the following year with co-productions at OTSL and WFO, respectively, and this is the production coming to LA Opera for its West Coast premiere.
A starry team is headed by Patricia Racette as Marie Antoinette and Patti LuPone as Samira. James Conlon will conduct the LA Opera Orchestra and Darko Tresjnak will direct. LAO will present six performances, from Feb. 7 through March 1. INFO
LAO will revive its production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville for six performances in the Pavilion from Feb. 28 through March 22. Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov will sing the title role and Conlon will conduct. INFO
The trilogy will conclude when LAO revives its production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro for six performances from March 21 through April 12 at the Pavilion. Italian-born tenor Roberto Tagliavini will sing the role of Figaro with South Africa soprano Pretty Yende, one of the hottest young singers performing today, as Susanna. Conlon will conduct and Ian Judge returns to direct his original production. INFO
(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.