Monthly Archives: June 1999

Long Reach

AS THE HEAVY-SPENDING LOS ANGELES Opera veers ever more sadly toward innocuous irrelevance, the threadbare neighbor down the road looks better all the time. Not that every venture by the Long Beach Opera — the area’s senior company, after all, 21 years to the local guys’ 13 — can count as opera-making par excellence. But […]

A Choir of Angels

In 1979, I laughed out loud at a job offer from Los Angeles. I was at the time music critic at New York magazine, a job that offered both comfort and prominence in the only city in America worth the attention of anyone involved in serious music – or so a few million people believed, […]

Whither Willem?

THIS BEING THE SEASON OF SMOG IN the Los Angeles basin, the haze of uncertainty that descended upon the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this past week seemed apt. Willem Wijnbergen, executive vice president and managing director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was departing after a mere 15 months in office. Did he resign? Was he pushed? […]

So Far, Still Good

Art by Robert GrossmanAT 75, GIUSEPPE VERDI WAS CLIPPING rave reviews for his Otello and toying with an opera about Falstaff. At 75, Igor Stravinsky produced Agon, a major step forward in his compositional outlook. At 75 — as of yesterday, please omit flowers — I sit here in a pink cloud of self-congratulation, examining […]


Adventurous, exasperating, illuminating and just plain off-the-wall: the 21-year saga of the Long Beach Opera has been all of these and more. Its operation is strictly shoestring; its stagings over the years have included a “Boris Godunov” done in street clothes around a large bureaucratic desk, and a “Death in Venice” whose only scenery was […]

Finnish Touches

BETWEEN OJAI’S VERDANT VALLEY AND the dour woodlands of Finland, some distance intervenes. For a time last weekend, however — the occasion of the 53rd Ojai Music Festival — you could have sworn that miles had shrunk to inches. The Finns came, wonderful musicians bearing remarkable music; they charmed and they conquered. Here in Los […]


Tucked into a valley northeast of Ventura (which served filmmaker Frank Capra as site for the original version of “Lost Horizon,”) the town of Ojai (pop. 7500) is no more than a 90-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles. One weekend a year, however, as this rural enclave of horse farms and orange groves houses one […]

An Absentee Lucia

POOR, SWEET, PUT-UPON LUCIA OF LAMMERMOOR. BOTH the opera and its heroine have been far more sinned against than sinning, burdened with evils of the spirit and flesh. The debatable notion prevails here and there in opera-buffdom that underneath Donizetti’s fragile, romantic weeper there bubble deep psychological currents that call for prodigies of a producer’s […]