Woody Allen makes opera directing debut in LA

Woody Allen would take no bows.

He had just made his successful debut as an opera director Saturday, creating a hilarious and memorable production of "Gianni Schicchi," the third of the one-act presentations in Puccini's "Il Trittico." The Los Angeles Opera's opening-night audience at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion kept applauding, wanting to see the 72-year-old filmmaker join the cast and conductor James Conlon for the curtain call.

But Allen remained out of view, unwilling to come onstage because of shyness, according to the company.

With the music world celebrating December's 150th anniversary of Puccini's birth, director William Friedkin started the night with dark stagings of "Il Tabarro" and "Suor Angelica." Allen immediately brought laughter from the auditorium when he began "Gianni Schicchi" by having credits projected in black and white onto a movie screen. The names were nonsensical, such as Giuseppe Prosciutto, Aldo Melone and Vitello Tonato, to mention three of the more printable.

Then, when the madcap action unfolded, it was clear that he viewed the opera, which takes place in 1299, as an old Italian film. Santo Loquasto's sets, with Florence's Duomo in the background, were in black and white and gray. So were the costumes and the laundry clipped to clothing lines throughout. The only deviations from the color scheme were the singers' faces and a few yellow lamps.

A young boy, humorously played by precocious 9-year-old Sage Ryan, is cautioned not to play with a knife and then tries to make away with a beer. The owner of the house, Buoso Donati, has just died and his family is searching for his will ї under the bed, under his body and even under his nightcap. Finally it is found ї in a pot of pasta.

Once they learn he is donating his possessions to charity, they cook up a scheme to get the land and money for themselves. The oily Gianni Schicchi will impersonate the deceased and dictate a new will to a notary. The elegant baritone Thomas Allen, transformed with slick black hair and a thin villain's mustache, takes over ї and of course assigns the best properties to himself.

More than most opera directors, Woody Allen pays attention to the small details that make a performance take off. Donati is propped up with a cup in his hand so realistically outside the door that passers-by think he's beggar and drop coins. An unexpected ending is added when Buoso's cousin Zita (Jill Grove) returns to the stage and stabs Schicchi as he sings his final notes ї tying the comedy to the violent dramas that preceded.

A vibrant cast was assembled that also included Laura Tatulescu (Lauretta) and Saimir Pirgu (Rinuccio) as the young lovers, Andrea Silvestrelli (Simone) and Lauren McNeese (La Ciesca). The only misstep was caused by the audience, with a significant percentage breaking into applause before Tatulescu repeated the final line of "O mio babbino caro," ruining the mood. (The audience also was a problem in "Suor Angelica," with one spectator shouting "Brava!" in the middle of an aria.)

"Il Tabarro," set by a barge docked along with Seine, was the weakest performance of the three operas. Tenor Salvatore Licitra, who also sang Luigi in the Metropolitan Opera's production last year, didn't make much of a dramatic impression. The voice of soprano Anja Kampe (Giorgetta) caught slightly in one instance. Baritone Mark Delavan, the barge owner who is married to Giorgetta, dominated as Michele. Upon learning of his wife's affair, Michele kills Luigi and hides the corpse in a cloak only to reveal it to the horrified Giorgetta.

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky sang fabulously in the title role of the tear-jerker "Sour Angelica," earning a deserved standing ovation. Coming from a noble family, Angelica entered a convent years earlier after giving birth out of wedlock. When her aunt, the Principessa, informs her that her son has died, she kills herself to join her son in heaven.

Larissa Diadkova, dressed head to toe in black ї even her walking stick ї played the Principessa with a striking mean-spiritedness. Friedkin has the Virgin Mary descend from the stars as Angelica's son appears during the final notes, and another nun walks onstage to witness the miracle and confirm it isn't a delusion. Conlon restored an aria near the end of the opera, "Amici fiore," that he said had not been fully performed in a major U.S. opera house since the world premiere run at the Met in 1918.

Conlon, the company's music director, produced a rich sound from the orchestra. Working with general director Placido Domingo, he has transformed the Los Angeles Opera into an increasingly interesting company. Domingo was to conduct Sunday's U.S. premiere of composer Howard Shore's "The Fly;" the first two installments of a new production of Wagner's Ring Cycle are up ahead early next year; and the 2009-10 season features Domingo as Pablo Neruda in the world premiere of Daniel Catan's "Il Postino," with tenor Rolando Villazon also in the cast, according to AP.

Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 564,000 in past day
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 564,000 in past day
Argentine prosecutors investigate death of soccer star Maradona
Argentine prosecutors investigate death of soccer star Maradona
Death toll from COVID-19 tops 172,000 in Brazil
Death toll from COVID-19 tops 172,000 in Brazil
Loading Bars
Jeyhun Bayramov expresses condolences to his Iranian counterpart
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 564,000 in past day
Employment in Iran's Bushehr Province enlarges
Average yield of tobacco in Azerbaijan in 2020 exceeds last year volume
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale November 30
Weekly review of events in financial market of Azerbaijan
Norway calls on all political parties to enable new, more diverse parliament in Georgia
Turkey condemns killing of key Iranian nuclear scientist as act of 'terrorism'
Argentine prosecutors investigate death of soccer star Maradona
Performances results of Azerbaijani gymnasts at European Championships in rhythmic gymnastics unveiled
Iran reveals details of exports through Bandar Lengeh County
Projects within Industrialization Map framework being implemented in Kazakhstan's Akmola
Overview of events in agricultural sector of Azerbaijan for last week of November
Activities on provision of Russian peacekeeping contingent held (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Iran boosts manufacturing of passenger cars
UAE cabinet approves new cybersecurity body, climate change envoy
Geostat reveals volume of ferroalloys exported by Georgia to Turkey
Bahar Azadi gold coin price still falling in Iran
Kazakhstan continues introduction of mobile diagnostic tools in railway sector
Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan discuss possibilities of attracting investors to Azerbaijani territories liberated from occupation
Britain expects 'very significant' week for Brexit talks as clock ticks down
Iran declares cargo transportation from Sistan and Baluchestan Province
Death toll from COVID-19 tops 172,000 in Brazil
Chinese companies to process Uzbek garlic for further export to US and European countries
Turkey's export of grain, legumes to France declines
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for November 29
Details of Iran’s trade turnover announced
EU aims to support Georgia in its efforts to reform electricity market
Azerbaijan confirms 4,170 new COVID-19 cases, 1,985 recoveries
5.5-magnitude quake hits Vanuatu
Azersu LLC announces tender for purchase of equipment for laboratory
Kazakhstan's import of Turkish cement up
Azerbaijan shows footage of Aghdam's Shahbuldag village (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Expenses on construction of enterprises in Iran’s Isfahan Province increases
Number of enterprises launched in Iran's Ilam Province shrinks
Turkmengas opens tender for maintenance of gas turbine generators
At least 30 police killed, over 20 wounded in suicide car bomb explosion in E. Afghanistan
Georgia reports 4 426 new coronavirus cases, 3 721 recoveries, 35 deaths
Over 5,500 patients recover from coronavirus in Moscow in the past day
Azerbaijan shows footage of liberated from occupation villages of Kalbajar region (PHOTO/VIDEO)
China increases import of Turkish cars
Employment in Iran's Alborz Province declines
The President of Turkmenistan receives representative of medical community of Germany
S. Korea reports 450 more COVID-19 cases, 33,824 in total
Azerbaijan's turnover on payment cards in 10M2020 up
Inter-Agency Coordination Council discusses enforcement of Covid restrictions
Azerbaijan has ample opportunities and potential for artificial intelligence dev't
Trump may announce plans for 2024 presidential race during Biden’s inauguration
826 more coronavirus cases recorded in Kazakhstan over 24 hours
France sees further fall in COVID-19 hospitalizations as lockdown exit starts
Turkey's Temsa makes 1st electric bus exports to Sweden
Iran registers monthly positive trade balance
Scottish dev’t agency eyes establishing co-op with companies in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan
Croatian PM in self-quarantine after wife contracts COVID-19
UK records another 15,871 coronavirus cases with 479 deaths
Some 46,000 people gather in Paris to protest against security bill
Kazakhstan to modify large energy saving projects on railways
Severe fire danger for Australia as temperatures smash records
Dozens of Boko Haram militants killed in Nigeria airstrikes
Pope installs new cardinals, including first African-American
WHO reports new daily record high of over 747,000 COVID-19 cases
UK police arrest 155 in anti-lockdown protests in London
Assistant to Azerbaijani president posts footage from Tartar, Aghdam cities
UK, France sign new deal to stop illegal migration across Channel
Iran discloses electricity generation at Iran's Bandar Abbas TPP
Turkey reports 6,714 new COVID-19 cases, 487,912 in total
Zarif: Iran at forefront of fighting terrorism
Georgia takes necessary steps to avoid increase in bread prices
Ethiopian military has taken 'full control' of Tigray capital, government says
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Kazakhstan raises import of grain, legumes from Turkey
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange revealed
AP publishes article covering Armenian missile attack on Azerbaijan’s Ganja on Oct.17 (PHOTO/VIDEO)
OIC adopts resolutions in connection with Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan
President, members of Board of European Muslim Forum send letter to President Aliyev
Aghdam district of Azerbaijan after 27 years of Armenian occupation (VIDEO)
Kazakhstan to bring waste processing level to average European level
UK appoints minister in charge of COVID-19 vaccine rollout
Number of blocked malware in AzStateNet network drops
Airport in Uzbekistan to buy auto parts via tender
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale November 29
Azerbaijani team takes third place in group exercises at 36th European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships
At least 6 killed in Somali capital suicide bombing
Microsoft Azerbaijan to support all initiatives in liberated territories of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan shows footage of Kalbajar's Vang village (VIDEO)
Police fire tear gas at Paris protest against police violence
Electricity imports growing in Georgia
Cargo, passenger traffic via Turkish Sabiha Gokcen Airport slumps amid pandemic
Uzbek-Korean JSC Uz-Dong Won Co. announces tender for steel pipes supply
Cargo transportation at Turkish Antalya airport reduces
Austria records nearly 1,000 COVID-19 deaths over past 10 days
State Employment Agency of Azerbaijan opens tender on supporting start-up projects
Results of Azerbaijan's junior national team performance at 36th European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships announced
Details of Iran’s exports to Iraq declared
Azerbaijan reports 4,212 new COVID-19 cases, 1,760 recoveries
Four citizens dead as result of mine exploding in Fuzuli - Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office
Kazakhstan's export volumes to China surge despite COVID-19
Assistant to Azerbaijan's president, diplomats, Garabagh FC representatives visit Aghdam Mosque (PHOTO)
Turkmenistan committed to promoting socio-economic development of Afghanistan
All news