Review: A “West Side Story” for our times, at Hollywood Bowl

Posted on: July 18, 2016

“Of West Side Story’s many Broadway musical innovations, the least noticed may be the role of the conductor,” writes Mark Swed in Friday’s (7/15) Los Angeles Times. “In the first of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s two performances of Leonard Bernstein’s complete score at the Hollywood Bowl Thursday night, Gustavo Dudamel was noticed. He led an enthrallingly energized performance…. Thematically, this update of Romeo and Juliet … has never not been timely. The composer penciled over the top of his copy of Shakespeare’s play: ‘An out and out plea for racial tolerance.’ … What makes Dudamel’s approach uniquely compelling is that he sees both sides of the musical and the social issues…. Dudamel selected, with one exceptional exception, a Broadway cast of young singers. His Maria … was 21-year-old Solea Pfeiffer … now an overnight sensation…. The one import from opera was Julia Bullock, who sang ‘Somewhere’ and stopped the show in every way…. Dudamel gave her a slow and genuinely Wagnerian backup. … She added a spiritual dimension that demonstrated that a social tragedy requires spiritual inquiry. Dudamel’s West Side Story … is the story of our times. It is a great performance and, more to the point, a necessary one.”

Posted July 18, 2016