Review: LA Phil’s lavish new staging of Meredith Monk’s “Atlas”

Posted on: June 14, 2019

“In some ways, Meredith Monk’s ‘Atlas,’ which the Los Angeles Philharmonic is presenting in a lavishly glowing production through Friday, is as traditional as opera gets,” writes Zachary Woolfe in Wednesday’s (6/12) New York Times. “It has arias, duets, trios, choruses, instrumental interludes… It has spectacle … and a female protagonist facing adversity. It even has … earworm tunes… What it doesn’t have is words.” The opera, which premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 1991, “conveys meaning through tone, speed, rhythm, volume, texture, vowels, wild shrieks, low coos, flowing babble, rapid-fire stutter…. Yuval Sharon’s new staging … is both a radical transformation of the piece and an essentially modest conservation of it…. The immense orb that’s arresting from the moment you see it … [is designed by] Es Devlin, best known for light boxes that dominated the stage in Beyoncé and Kanye West stadium shows…. The L.A. Phil New Music Group, in a subtly expanded orchestration … played with spacious flexibility … under Paolo Bortolameolli…. The a cappella section ‘Earth Seen From Above’ was simply exquisite, the ensemble making a softly hovering, kaleidoscopically shifting drone as an image of our planet, wrapped around the sphere, filled in with color.”

Posted June 14, 2019

In photo: The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new staging of Meredith Monk’s 1991 opera “Atlas” features an immense orb, 36 feet in diameter, that seems to float over the stage of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Photo by Mathew Imaging