Turning a new page in his directorial book...

Woody Allen: opera director-to-be


Academy-award winning film director to make operatic debut directing Gianni Schicchi in LA Opera's 2008-09 season opener - a new production of Puccini's Il trittico






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LA Opera has done what the Academy Awards could not do - seduce Woody Allen, self-proclaimed California-phobe, to come to Los Angeles!

“I am delighted to announce that LA Opera will open its 2008/09 Season with a new production of Giacomo Puccini’s Il Trittico, to be staged by two Academy Award-winning film directors,” announced Plácido Domingo, General Director of Los Angeles Opera. “The three operas that make up Puccini’s unique ‘triptych’ will be split between Woody Allen, who will make his operatic debut directing Gianni Schicchi, and William Friedkin, who will return to LA Opera to direct Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica. Music Director James Conlon will conduct, and the production will be designed by Tony Award winner Santo Loquasto, with lighting designed by Mark Jonathan.”

The production will open on September 6, 2008, to be followed on September 7 by LA Opera’s U.S. premiere of Howard Shore’s The Fly, directed by David Cronenberg and conducted by Plácido Domingo.

“I’ve seduced many a film director into directing opera," Mr. Domingo continued.  Indeed he has, starting with John Schlesinger and The Tales of Hoffmann at London’s Covent Garden. At LA Opera he has brought in such Hollywood notables as Bruce Beresford (Rigoletto), Maximillian Schell (Der Rosenkavalier), Garry Marshall (The Grand Duchess) and as mentioned above, William Friedkin (in the double- bill of Bluebeard’s Castle and Gianni Schicchi).

Domingo's courtship of Woody Allen "takes the prize of the longest pursuit, because LA Opera Chairman and CEO Marc Stern and I first started talking to him some four years ago."  Persistence obviously pays off. “I have no idea what I am doing,” said Mr. Allen, “but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm.”

Although this is a new page in his directorial book, Woody Allen is no stranger to opera.  As his fans know, he is perhaps the most musically literate of all American film directors - music (and that includes opera, classical music and of course his beloved jazz), being an important element of his works, one to which he personally pays great attention. Outside of jazz, the music he uses or makes reference to in his films runs the gamut from Bach to Wagner. In his recent Oscar-nominated suspense film "Match Point," for example, arias from Verdi's operas are almost ubiquitously lurking in the background.

(CLICK HERE for a quiz that asks you to match the musical work with the movie.)

To have Woody Allen, the master of comedy direct Puccini's only comic opera is a masterful stroke. Gianni Schicchi touches on Allen's themes - love, death, the pursuit of happiness and... money. Il triticco's other Academy-Award-winning director, William Friedkin, said it best:

“Somewhere in the pantheon, I’m sure Puccini is smiling. To have Woody Allen direct Gianni Schicchi is a match made in heaven."

Source: LA Opera

There's more on Woody Allen, amateur musician & filmmaker in FanFaire.



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