Malibu Seen / By Kim Devore

IGNITE

The evening is called “Ignite,” and it’s sure to stir the passions of local opera bigwigs like Marc and Eva Stern. The Los Angeles Opera’s opening night gala will feature a champagne reception and dinner on the plaza of the Music Center, followed by a production of “The Two Foscari” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The new production, conducted by James Conlon and directed by Thaddeus Strassberger in his company debut, will be the first major U.S. staging in decades of an early Verdi opera that has recently enjoyed great success in the opera houses of Europe. Placido Domingo stars as Francesco Foscari, with Italian tenor Francesco Meli making his company debut as his son, Jacopo Foscari. Russian soprano Marina Poplavskaya, who made her LA Opera debut as Violetta in 2009’s “La Traviata,” returns as Jacopo’s wife, Lucrezia. It’s described by Domingo as “a compelling, and unfairly neglected early Verdi work that combines two of the composer’s recurring themes, the influence or abuse of political power and the bond between father and child. These are themes that also permeate our production of ‘Simon Boccanegra’ and it will be fascinating to experience these two pieces from very different chapters of Verdi’s career in such close proximity.”

The evening promises to be an operatic delight, wrapping up with an after-party chaired by Stana Katic on the Music Center Plaza.

All the major players are impressed by the opera’s growth, including board chairman Marc Stern who says, “The arts are an essential element in what makes a great city great. LA Opera has managed to thrive, thanks to the continued support of the greater Los Angeles community, LA Opera’s generous board and donors, and many thousands of audience members. Their continued belief in LA Opera and in our mission is a tribute to the artistic vision and leadership of Placido Domingo and James Conlon, who have made LA Opera one of the world’s finest opera companies.”

His thoughts were echoed by General Director Domingo, who added, “LA Opera’s first 25 years were characterized by impressive growth. We enter the next chapter of our development as an artistically creative and financially prudent company, and I embrace the challenge of planning seasons that embody our unique artistic vision. I am particularly looking forward to the Los Angeles premiere of ‘The Two Foscari.’

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“An opera company is defined by its interpretation and exploration of the pinnacles of the repertoire, and I am thrilled these masterworks will return to our stage in productions that are completely new to Los Angeles. Our commitment to the highest possible artistic quality of our work is an essential element of our planning, and I am delighted to present productions crafted by some of the most exciting stage directors of our time, featuring casts of truly outstanding singers.” Bravo!

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