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'AH!,' 'Siegfried' and Dudamel are among Southland's fall delights

Farther afield: Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, English National Opera's 'Le Grand Macabre.'

September 13, 2009|Mark Swed | MUSIC CRITIC



Late in life, Wagner contemplated writing an opera on the life of Buddha. Late in life, John Cage contemplated writing a "Noh opera," applying Zen Buddhist principles. Now the highly versatile composer David Rosenboom and the equally versatile stage director Travis Preston have come up with what they are calling an "opera no-opera" based on the Buddhist Diamond Sutra. Attached through devices of non-attachment will be interactive stories and music from around the world in what promises to be something completely new in music theater by two artists with impressive track records. More new West Coast opera follows a few days later when Steven Schwartz's "Seance on a Wet Afternoon" premieres at Santa Barbara Opera on Sept. 26 and Evan Zipporyn's "A House in Bali" opens the same day at UC Berkeley.

REDCAT, Wednesday



The third of the four "Ring" operas is no one's favorite Wagner. This talky, testosteronic, lung-punishing endurance test for the protagonist heldentenor can also be a tribulation for the sitzfleisch. A real woman doesn't appear until you've already been on the premises for more than four hours. Does this scare you off? If so, ye fidgeting operatic faint of heart, "Siegfried" is not for you. But patient listeners with ears of iron, active imaginations and behinds of leather get rewarded with some spectacular music and one of the most ecstatic of all love duets. And there's a dragon. Besides that, Achim Freyer's production, we are promised, will be the most elaborate of his "Ring" productions so far, which means five potentially glorious hours in the land of phantasmagoria.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Sept. 26


Gustavo Dudamel

If you've attended a concert conducted by the 28-year-old Venezuelan wonder, then you already know why this city is in a tizzy about his debut as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic this fall. If you have yet to catch Dudamel and have enough curiosity to be reading this, you surely must want to know what all the fuss is about. After Dudamel's Oct. 8 inaugural gala at Walt Disney Concert Hall (which will have a delayed television broadcast Oct. 21 on PBS and a Nov. 23 DVD release), he has 19 regular subscription concerts this fall. Many have already sold out, but don't forget that the chorus bench seats behind the orchestra go on sale for $17 two weeks before most concerts. Only the TV cameras and the musicians get better close-ups of the conductor.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Oct. 8


'Ancient Paths Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture'

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County is bringing to Costa Mesa a good chunk of an extensive China festival that Carnegie Hall is mounting this fall. China old and new, esoteric and pop, will be covered. Two events stand out as best for a quick immersion. On Oct. 27, the eloquent pipa player, Wu Man, noted for extending her traditional lute from intended Chinese folk purposes to the needs of international avant-garde music, hosts a program exploring a variety of Chinese traditions. On Nov. 3, Lang Lang is the host for Chinese and Western chamber music.

Orange County Performing Arts Center, Oct. 11


'West Coast, Left Coast'

Having had a runaway success curating the Minimalist Jukebox festival three seasons ago, John Adams this time takes on his adopted state as the focus of his next Los Angeles Philharmonic festival. The West Coast sound isn't easy to localize given that it includes the beat of the Beats, Central Avenue jazz, the beginning of world music from Henry Cowell, the beginnings of percussion music from Cowell's pupil John Cage, as well as the Romantic lushness and noir darkness of the Hollywood greats. Terry Riley has something new for the Kronos Quartet to open the festival. Adams' "City Noir," which will have its premiere at Dudamel's gala, will be given a reprise, this time at popular prices. Not to be missed will be the out-there Italian pianist Marino Formenti taking on Lou Harrison's irresistible Piano Concerto.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Nov. 21


'sacrum+profanum sensations'

Warsaw has lately gained the reputation for being a new arts center, but gorgeous Krakow has hardly lost its luster as Poland's most alluring arts destination. And Krakow's annual "sacrum+profanum" festival is unlike any new music event anywhere. Among the venues are the production hall of a Soviet realist chemical tinning plant that is said to be a great environment for electronic music, as electronica star Aphix Twin hopes on Saturday to prove when it ends this year's weeklong event.

Various locations, Krakow, Poland, begins today


Alan Gilbert

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