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Verdi kicks off L.A. Opera's new season

September 07, 2006

Los Angeles Opera opens its new season this weekend with new music director James Conlon at the helm and two Verdi operas -- the familiar but reliably heartbreaking "La Traviata" on Saturday and the rarer, casting blockbuster "Don Carlo" on Sunday. In "Traviata," Renee Fleming will sing Violetta opposite Rolando Villazon as Alfredo, two lovers torn apart by Alfredo's father, Giorgio Germont, sung by Renato Bruson. The performance will be filmed and released on DVD by Decca.

With the Spanish Inquisition and the Protestant Insurrection as backdrop, "Don Carlo" -- considered by many to be Verdi's best opera -- makes staggering demands on every one of the six main characters. Salvatore Licitra will sing the title role. Annalisa Raspagliosi will sing Elisabetta. Dolora Zajick will be Princess Eboli. Lado Ataneli will be Rodrigo. Ferruccio Furlanetto will sing King Philip II. Eric Halfvarson will be the dreaded Grand Inquisitor. The plot is too tangled to sum up in a paragraph, as is the history of the opera's multiple versions. But this is Verdi at the peak of his powers, so nothing more needs to be said.

Los Angeles Opera, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.

* "La Traviata," 6 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. Sept. 17. $35 to $350.

* "Don Carlo," 4 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Wednesday and Sept. 20, 24, 28; 2 p.m. Sept. 16; 12:30 p.m. Oct. 1. $30 to $220. (213) 972-8001. www.laopera.com.

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