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L.A. Phil announces 2013-14 season: From Amadeus to Zappa

The L.A. Philharmonic plans events and concerts to celebrate its 10th anniversary season at Walt Disney Concert Hall, with new and old classical music, opera and jazz on the bill.

February 25, 2013|By Reed Johnson
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen, left, Frank Zappa and Gustavo Dudamel will be part of the L.A. Phil's 2013-14 season.
Esa-Pekka Salonen, left, Frank Zappa and Gustavo Dudamel will be part of… (Los Angeles Times )

The music will range from A to Z -- Amadeus to Zappa, that is -- when the Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrates its 10th anniversary season at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2013-14. In marking the occasion, the Phil also will attempt both to look back at the hall's origins and face toward its future.

Among the expected highlights of the new season, which will be officially announced Monday at a luncheon at Disney Hall, are: a fully staged production of Mozart's "Così fan tutte" with sets by architect Dame Zaha Hadid and costumes by Hussein Chalayan; a citywide multi-disciplinary festival, "Minimalist Jukebox," conducted and curated by John Adams; and a world premiere concert performance of Frank Zappa's "200 Motels."

Also programmed this season will be a record number of Phil commissions and world premieres -- among them works by Peter Lieberson, Oliver Knussen and a Terry Riley organ concerto -- and a return engagement by the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra's music director and principal conductor.

This fall will mark a full decade since the L.A. Phil packed up its instruments and moved across the street from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to take up residence in Frank Gehry's instant-landmark new performance space.

In an interview last week, Deborah Borda, the orchestra's president, said the switch allowed the orchestra "to reimagine what the Philharmonic could be" in the context of a city "where the ethic is, 'No idea is too big, no idea is too far out.' "

In a bid to commemorate and continue that spirit, the Phil has planned several weeks' worth of anniversary events under the banner "Inside Out." The program's name refers to Gehry's adage that he designed Disney Hall from inside-out, rather than the reverse, focusing on serving the music first, then startling the eye with the building's undulating exteriors.

The name also implies an ongoing mandate for the L.A. Phil to engage with the entire Southern California community, Borda said.

Accordingly, leading up to the Sept. 30 opening-night gala, with Yo-Yo Ma as featured soloist, the orchestra will perform a number of free concerts around the city at to-be-announced community venues. The concerts will culminate Sept. 29 at Disney Hall with the first side-by-side joint performance by the L.A. Phil and YOLA, the youth orchestra sprung from the orchestra's community music-education efforts.

For "Inside Out," the Phil also will bring back several old friends of the realm. Dudamel will alternate at the podium with his predecessor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, who will conduct several concerts, including the "200 Motels" program on Oct. 23, the anniversary date of the hall's official opening. Salonen was friends with Zappa, the iconoclastic L.A. composer who died in 1993.

"We’re working with Gail Zappa, his wife," Borda said. "I just think it is the perfect way for us to celebrate 10 years of surprise."

Also returning to town will be video artist and director Netia Jones, who helmed last year's L.A. Phil co-production of "Where the Wild Things Are," Knussen's opera based on Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book. This time, Jones will be designing installations in connection with the gala.

The "Così fan tutte" production in May 2014 will conclude the Phil's project of performing the trilogy of operas Mozart wrote with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, following last season's "Don Giovanni" and this May's production of "The Marriage of Figaro." The London-based Hadid, like her two predecessors on the Mozart/Da Ponte project, Gehry and Jean Nouvel, is a past recipient of architecture's highest honor, the Pritzker Prize.

" ‘Così’ in some ways is the most difficult of the operas to deal with because the others have very ongoing, deep questions of humanity and human relations," Borda said.

"In ‘Così fan tutte,’ there is an aspect of misogyny and anti-feminism that is simply a part of the story. And the successful productions transcend that either by underlining it or thinking of another way around it. So to me, having one of the singular brilliant women in the world design it will give us a very special take on it."

Next April's two-week "Minimalist Jukebox" festival will be yet another event that's meant as both reprise and sequel, as the Phil examines the Minimalist movement's legacy, a project it previously attempted in 2005/2006. Events will include a performance by the L.A. Phil and Synergy Vocals of "De Materie," Dutch composer Louis Andriessen's first opera.

Next April, the orchestra will attempt to scale a Minimalist monument, "the Civil WarS (The Rome Section)," the Philip Glass-Robert Wilson collaboration that was originally intended to be part of the L.A. Olympic Arts Festival three decades ago.

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