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September 10, 2006

James Conlon

The year has been melancholy for Los Angeles Opera. Though it had a successful 20th- anniversary season, it lost its first music director, Kent Nagano. The good news is that James Conlon, above, is his replacement. New York-born Conlon was a notable American in Paris for nine years; his stint as music director of the Paris National Opera made him the longest-serving person in that post since 1939. He also has been a champion of Jewish composers whose careers were cut short by the Nazis. He was scheduled to be on the podium Saturday night when L.A. Opera revived "La Traviata" and this afternoon for a new production of a second Verdi classic, "Don Carlo." Later in the season, he is to conduct Kurt Weill's "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny" and Wagner's Tannhauser."

"La Traviata" and "Don Carlo" at Los Angeles Opera, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. More at

'The Peony Pavilion'

For 400 years, Tang Xianzu's "The Peony Pavilion" -- call it an opera, call it a play, call it a theatrical extravaganza -- has remained the defining masterpiece of Chinese kunqu opera, an art form distinguished especially by its delicate wind-instrument accompaniment and the performers' highly choreographed movements. In 2001, UNICEF designated kunqu a "Human Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage." Now, the Jiangsu Province Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of China is about to present the 19-hour "Pavilion," above with Shen Fengying, left, and Yu Jiuling, in three evening-length segments at four California venues. There'll be death from lovesickness, the spirit of a dead virgin, an accusation of grave-robbing, a scholar's triumph.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday September 12, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
Pacific Symphony: The Fall Arts Preview for classical music in Sunday's Calendar section said that the New York Philharmonic would be the first U.S. orchestra to perform at the new Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. The Pacific Symphony will be the first.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 21, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 57 words Type of Material: Correction
'The Peony Pavilion': An article in the Sept. 10 Sunday Calendar Fall Arts Preview about the Suzhou Kun Opera Theater of Jiangsu's production of "The Peony Pavilion" said the program would run 19 hours. The production, to be staged at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, UCLA's Royce Hall and the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, runs nine hours.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday September 24, 2006 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 57 words Type of Material: Correction
"The Peony Pavilion": An article in the Fall Arts Preview Sept. 10 about the Suzhou Kun Opera Theater of Jiangsu Province's production of "The Peony Pavilion" incorrectly said the program would run 19 hours. The production, to be staged at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, UCLA's Royce Hall and the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, runs nine hours.

"The Peony Pavilion." Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Friday through next Sunday; Irvine Barclay Theatre, Sept. 22-24; Royce Hall, UCLA, Sept. 29-Oct. 1; Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, Oct. 6-8. More at www

Los Angeles Philharmonic gala

The prices are a tad ... steep. Yet if you're looking to have a drink, hear some music, dine, dance and make "a significant charitable contribution," you could do worse than fork over between $1,500 and $10,000 a ticket to be at Walt Disney Concert Hall when the Los Angeles Philharmonic launches its fourth season there. The opening-night gala will include Esa-Pekka Salonen on the podium, of course, conducting "Bolero," no less, but also Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite" and Falla's "Master Peter's Puppet Show." And supplying the larger-than-life puppets for the latter will be Basil Twist, whose abstract underwater interpretation of Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" a few years ago set New Yorkers' pulses racing.

Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Sept. 28. More at www

Wagner's 'Ring' Cycle

It's the Mt. Everest of opera, the "War and Peace," the Mahabharata, the Sistine Chapel. And except for San Diego Opera in the 1970s, Wagner's complete "Ring" cycle has never been staged in Southern California. That will change during a mammoth visit to Orange County by the Kirov Opera, Ballet and Orchestra of the Maryinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia. There will be one performance each of "Das Rheingold," "Die Walkure," "Siegfried" and "Gotterdammerung." In "Die Walkure," the valiant but doomed Siegmund will be sung by L.A. Opera's own Placido Domingo." In the pit for all four operas will be the redoubtable Valery Gergiev.

"Der Ring des Nibelungen," Segerstrom Hall, Oct. 6, 7, 8, 11. More at

New York Philharmonic

Conductor Lorin Maazel, now 76, may have detractors among the Manhattan musical elite for his perceived fussiness on the podium and his aloof attitude toward New York's musical riches, but there's no doubt that as leader of the New York Philharmonic, he can wow the crowds. Southland concertgoers will have the chance to see how when Maazel, left, and the band make their West Coast debut as the first U.S. orchestra to play the Orange County Performing Arts Center's new concert hall. [See stories on Pages 62-64.] On the agenda: Beethoven, Berlioz, Dvorak, Haydn, Kodaly and Ravel.

New York Philharmonic, Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. More at

'The First Emperor'

For all the fretting about rising costs and a dwindling public, new operas keep coming down the pike. But few in recent years have inspired the anticipation of "The First Emperor." Consider the creative team. The composer is Tan Dun, right, best known for such movie scores as his Academy Award-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The librettist is Ha Jin, a National Book Award honoree for "Waiting." The director is Zhang Yimou of "Raise the Red Lantern" and a host of other films. Then there's the story, about the ruler who united China and built the Great Wall. And the cast? Placido Domingo in the title role, with Elizabeth Futral as his daughter. Is it any wonder the cognoscenti are het up?

"The First Emperor," Metropolitan Opera, New York, opening Dec. 21. More at

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