Review: LA Phil premieres commissioned Andriessen opera

Posted on: May 10, 2016

In Monday’s (5/9) Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed reviews Louis Andriessen’s Theatre of the World, “the fifth and most querulous opera from a guy whose work is not always friendly but is always extraordinary. In a remarkable gesture for even the progressive Los Angeles Philharmonic, the orchestra commissioned the opera and gave its world premiere in a fully staged and fully contentious production [by Pierre Audi] in Walt Disney Concert Hall.” The co-production with Dutch National Opera will be performed in Amsterdam this June. “Musically, it is brilliant and deep…. The subject matter is [17th-century polymath] Athanasius Kircher … during his life … the world’s most sought-after scientist and inventor while being a Catholic spiritualist with a fancy for the ultra-exotic … The L.A. Phil … here is chamber-sized, heavily balanced toward winds, brass and percussion, and it includes electric guitars and synthesizer…. The music changes almost constantly. The lovers might be straight out of sensual 18th-century opera. The witches get a big-band jazz treatment…. The boy is a Stravinskian-style devil. The pope is a hysteric tenor. Reinbert de Leeuw, who has conducted the premieres of all of Andriessen’s operas, captures the score’s ever-changing everything…. The performances were recorded for eventual commercial release.”

Posted May 10, 2016