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Press Release: Dido / Bluebeard

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LA Opera presents U.S. premiere
of Barrie Kosky’s production of
Dido and Aeneas
  and Bluebeard’s Castle

(Los Angeles) June 27, 2014 — General Director Plácido Domingo announced updated casting details for LA Opera's production of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Bela Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, two riveting stagings of two disparate operas written more than two centuries apart that come together in a unique double bill for six performances from October 25 through November 15, 2014.

Barrie Kosky, director of last season's wildly popular production of The Magic Flute, returns to Los Angeles to stage the U.S. premiere of his production, which received rave reviews and played to sold out houses last year when it premiered at the Frankfurt Opera and was subsequently presented at the Edinburgh Festival. The production will be conducted by Steven Sloane, who made his LA Opera debut in 2006 with Grendel.

"Last year, when we first encountered Barrie Kosky’s incredible interpretation of The Magic Flute, we realized that our audiences would fall in love with his brilliantly innovative vision," said Mr. Domingo. "I asked Christopher Koelsch, LA Opera’s President and CEO, to go to the Edinburgh Festival to see Barrie’s pairing of these two operas that are so radically different in every way. Christopher agreed that the double bill would be a good fit for our company. I think that our audiences will be fascinated by Barrie’s interpretation of these operatic masterpieces in an utterly fresh and interesting new way.”

Click here for a preview video about this production.

Dido and AeneasThe sorceress and witches plot against the queen in a scene from Dido and Aeneas 

About the Operas
In Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, the queen of Carthage falls prey to the machinations of a formidable sorceress, losing her heart to the Trojan hero Aeneas, who abruptly abandons her. The first known performance of the opera took place in London in 1689. Scored for a modest-sized chamber orchestra, Dido and Aeneas was England’s first great opera and it remained the only truly important one for 250 years, when Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes premiered in 1948. It is best known for Dido’s famous lament that closes the opera, “When I am laid in earth.” This will be the first time that LA Opera will have presented this opera.

In Hungarian composer Bela Bartók’s 1918 opera Bluebeard’s Castle, an inquisitive young bride turns her back on her family, only to uncover increasingly dark truths about her new husband. Although it was Bartók’s only opera, it represented an extremely significant turning point in his creative development. Richly scored for a huge orchestra, but with only two singing roles, the opera is steeped in symbolism, treating the familiar tale as an allegory for the inner struggles of mankind. LA Opera previously presented the opera in 2002, in a production directed by William Friedkin.

Bluebeard's CastleA scene from Bluebeard's Castle 

Casts and Creative Team
LA Opera’s presentation of the double bill will include four principal cast members, all making their company debuts, who have appeared in this production in either Frankfurt or Edinburgh. Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy and Ukrainian soprano Kateryna Kasper will sing the roles of Queen Dido and her handmaiden Belinda in Dido and Aeneas. Bluebeard’s Castle will star British bass-baritone Robert Hayward and German mezzo-soprano Claudia Mahnke as Bluebeard and his bride Judith.

Dido-Bluebeard leadsLeft to right: Paula Murrihy, Kateryna Kasper, Robert Hayward, Claudia Mahnke

The cast of Dido and Aeneas will also include baritone Liam Bonner, returning to LA Opera after his appearance in the title role of Billy Budd earlier this year. Three countertenors will make their company debuts in the cast: John Holiday will sing the role of the Sorceress, with G. Thomas Allen and Darryl Taylor as the First and Second Witches. Tenor Brenton Ryan will appear as the Sailor/Spirit and soprano Summer Hassan will make her LAO debut as the Second Lady; both are incoming members of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program.

Dido-Bluebeard leads
Left to right: Liam Bonner, John Holiday, conductor Steven Sloane, director Barrie Kosky

In addition to conductor Steven Sloane and director Barrie Kosky, the creative team for the double bill also includes scenery and costume designer Katrin Lea Tag and lighting designer Joachim Klein; both will make their LA Opera debuts. Dido and Aeneas will feature a chorus directed by Grant Gershon. (There is no chorus in Bluebeard’s Castle.)

For complete casting, creative team, artist bios and ticketing information, click here.

Dido and Aeneas is performed in English and Bluebeard’s Castle is performed in Hungarian; both operas will feature simultaneous English texts projected over the stage.

Performance Dates and Times
There will be six performances of Dido and Aeneas and Bluebeard’s Castle at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, located at 135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012:
•    Saturday, October 25, 2014, at 7:30pm
•    Sunday, November 2, at 2:00pm
•    Thursday, November 6, 2014, at 7:30pm
•    Sunday, November 9, at 2:00pm
•    Wednesday, November 12, at 7:30pm
•    Saturday, November 15, at 7:30pm

Tickets are on sale now. Tickets start at $17 and can be purchased in person at the LA Opera Box Office at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, by phone at 213.972.8001 or online at www.LAOpera.org. For disability access, call 213.972.0777 or email laopera@laopera.org.

To download artist and production photographs, click here.

For video, click here. (Password: laoperaaudio)

LA Opera Media Contacts:
Gary Murphy, Director of Communications and Public Relations
gmurphy@laopera.org | 213.972.7554

Shannita Williams, Associate Director of Communications, Social Media
shannita@laopera.org | 213.972.7347


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