LA Opera’s 2012-13 Season Celebrates… A Living Legend

What mystery singer has done all these things…?

  • performed 140 roles in over 3600 career performances
  • made 100+ recordings of complete operas, compilations of arias and duets, and 
crossover discs
  • received 12 Grammy™ awards for recordings (including 3 Latin Grammys)
  • recorded 50+ music videos and three operatic feature films
  • been viewed by over 2 billion people worldwide in live performance at the Beijing Olympics
  • opened the Metropolitan Opera season a record-setting 21 times
  • conducted more than 450 opera performances/symphonic concerts, with orchestras from around the world
  • celebrated 40th anniversaries at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, La Scala and Arena di Verona

Have you figured it out? With a couple more hints, you’ll know for sure:

  • founded Operalia, an international voice competition, coming up on its 20th year
  • is the General Director of the Los Angeles Opera
  • has two major new releases this fall through Sony Music, one DVD (Il Postino) and one CD (Songs, a pop album featuring duets with Josh Groban, Susan Boyle, Harry Connick Jr., Chris Botti, Megan Hilty, Katherine Jenkins, Placido Jr. and Zaz)

In their 2012-13 season, LA Opera celebrates the many, many contributions of Plácido Domingo to the Los Angeles music scene and to the world of opera.

This celebration of Domingo’s art coincides with the world of opera’s celebration of Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th birthday in 2013. In honor of this extraordinary composer, LA Opera presents Verdi’s early opera I Due Foscari in six performances, September 15 through October 9, 2012. A work that hasn’t been produced on a major US stage for 40 years, LA patrons will be treated to a performance featuring Domingo as Francesco Foscari, tenor Francesco Meli as his son Jacopo Foscari, soprano Marina Poplavskaya as Jacopo’s wife Lucrezia, and bass Ievgen Orlov (a 2nd place winner of Operalia 2010) as their political enemy, Loredano.

LA Opera held a press conference on Wednesday, Sept 5th, to announce the 2012-13 season to the public, and presented several of their key players as a panel. Christopher Koelsch, LA Opera COO, greeted the press and introduced the panel, then LA City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky offered his congratulations to Maestro Domingo for his lifetime of achievements and particularly for focusing his creative energies on building and developing the Los Angeles Opera. Mark Stern, LA Opera Board Chairman, reviewed Domingo’s accomplishments with the LAO, including performing in 28 operas in the city of LA (138 performances), conducting 15 operas (87 performances), creating the Young Artist’s Program in 2006, and establishing the Domingo Family Program for youth from ages 9-17. James Conlon, the LA Opera Richard Seavers Music Director, shared personal experiences of working with Domingo over the years, and Thaddeus Strassberger, debuting as LA Opera’s Stage Director for I Due Foscari, thanked Domingo and the company at large for the opportunity to stage direct the new production, a co-production with three European opera companies.

Maestro Plácido Domingo
(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Domingo himself took the microphone and shared reminiscences from his early years in LA, prior to the founding of LA Opera and during its development under Peter Hemming, then traced back through milestones in the company’s history. He acknowledged the tremendous support of the LAO Board members and of the City of Los Angeles, particularly through Yaroslavsky’s efforts. LA Opera has, in the last five years, reduced its outstanding debt from $50 million to between $5-$10 million, and is on its way to being debt-free, thanks to many donors and to the City of LA.

Domingo spoke about opera from the standpoint of a musician and performer, clearly moved by the music he has studied so deeply over the years and by the experience of creating operatic characters, the genius of the great composers and the artistry of fellow musicians. When asked how he prepared for a new role, he said that it typically takes him 2-3 weeks to learn a completely new opera, but now that his responsibilities include so much more than being a singer, he is hard pressed to get time to concentrate on it. “Thank heavens for long airplane flights”, he chuckled, for they afford him hours of uninterrupted time alone when he can really dig in and memorize new repertoire. At the age of 71, he is still traveling the world, singing roles which he is learning and performing for the first time.

It was a particular pleasure and privilege to hear Domingo speak of his love for opera and of the many ways he has been able to express this love – through singing, conducting, recording, performing, mentoring young singers and sponsoring programs for communities that have previously had little or no access to opera. At the end of his presentation, he commented that of all his achievements, the ones that mean the most to him are Operalia, which finds and promotes great new voices into the operatic mainstream, and Community Outreach programs. Paving the way for new generations to perform and enjoy the artistry of this discipline now thrills him more than any personal performance can.

More information on the coming season with LA Opera can be found at http://www.laopera.com/season/Season-at-a-Glance .

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