On Oct. 7, 1986, the curtain (however haltingly) tried to go up on the first production by the fledgling Los Angeles Opera. It rose a few feet as the thunderous opening salvos of Verdi’s Otello filled the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Then it came clunking down. But by the time Plácido Domingo proclaimed “Esultate,” (Rejoice) a new era in the cultural life of Los Angeles had begun.
On Sept. 22, 2018, Domingo will again open the company’s season singing the role of Rodrigo in Verdi’s Don Carlo conducted by L.A. Opera’s music director, James Conlon. Ramón Vargas will sing the role of Don Carlo, with Ana Maria Martinez as Elisabeth of Valois and Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip II (Alexander Vinogradov takes over the role in October). The reprise of this L.A. Opera production will be directed by Ian Judge. Performances: Sept. 22, 29; Oct. 4, 7 (matinee), 11, and 14 (m).
No L.A. Opera production received more acclaim last year than director Phelim McDermott’s staging of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. On Oct. 20, L.A. Opera will present McDermott’s critically acclaimed production of Satyagraha — a co-production with Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera. It will star Sean Panikkar as Gandhi, J’Nai Bridges as Kasturbai, and So Young Park as Miss Schlesen. The opera will be conducted by Grant Gershon with performances: Oct. 20, 27. Nov. 1, 4 (m), 8, and 11 (m).
L.A. Opera’s holiday offering will be Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. The L.A. Opera production conducted by James Conlon will feature Sasha Cooke as Hansel, Liv Redpath as Gretel, and features Susan Graham as the Witch. The production design team will be led by Doug Fitch. Performances: Nov. 17, 25 (m). Dec. 6, 9 (m), 12, and 15.
Tenor Russell Thomas, who recently starred as Otello at the Hollywood Bowl with Gustavo Dudamel conducting, will sing the title role in a new production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus). Guanqun Yu will sing the role of Vitella, with Elizabeth DeShong as Sextus, Janai Brugger as Servilia, and James Creswell as Publius. The direction and scene design are by Thaddeus Strassberger. James Conlon will conduct. Performances: March 2, 7, 10 (m), 13, 16, and 24 (m).
The Spanish Zarzuela will enter the season with performances of Manuel Penella’s El Gato Montés (The wildcat) starring Plácido Domingo as the title character. Ana Maria Martinez will sing the role of Soleá with Arturo Chacón-Cruz as Rafael Ruiz. The production from the Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid, will be directed by José Carlos Plaza and conducted by Jordi Bernàcer. Performances: May 4, 5 (m), 8, 11, 16, and 19 (m).
The season will conclude with the return of Marta Domingo’s flapper interpretation of Verdi’s La Traviata starring Adella Zaharia as Violetta, with Rame Lahaj and Charles Castronovo alternating as Alfredo, and Igor Golovatenko as Giorgio Germont. James Conlon will conduct. Performances: June 1, 9 (m), 13, 16 (m), 19, and 22.
As a way to present new works in a smaller venue L.A. Opera created its “Off Grand” series in collaboration with Beth Morrison Projects. Ellen Reid’s Prism about a mother and daughter that lock themselves away from the world with a libretto by Roxie Perkins will be performed at the Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theater (REDCAT). The production is directed by James Darrah and will be conducted Julian Wachner. Performances: Nov. 29 and 30. Dec. 1 and 2(m).
Two piano virtuosos discover a new young talent during a master class, Glenn Gould, in David Lang’s The Loser. With music, libretto, and direction by David Lang, the production will star Rod Gilfry and be presented at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. Performances: Feb. 22 and 23.
The company has also gotten into the niche of presenting a fright night featuring new scores to classic silent horror films. This year’s Halloween special will match music by Jody Talbot to Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr. Performances at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Oct. 27 and 31.