This September fall season got very busy -- not only with major museum and gallery exhibitions, but also with not-to-be-missed theater, ballet, and music performances. Here are a few that I managed to catch.
At the Getty Villa, I saw a captivating play by Luis Alfaro, who reimagined Euripides' Medea not as a tragedy taking place in Greece, but as a tragicomedy taking place here and now in Los Angeles' Boyle Heights. It starts slow, gains speed with a few laughs and jokes in the middle, and then hits tragic heights that make your hair stand on end. If this doesn't scare you, treat yourself to one of the last few performances, which take place this week.
The rare and brief appearance of Russian President Vladimir Putin commanded attention at the United Nations this past Sunday. At the same time, here in Southern California, we welcomed The Mariinsky Ballet from St. Petersburg, a major Russian Cultural Ambassador... How about that? Last week, at Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, the company performed Raymonda, a 19th century classical ballet with music by Alexander Glazunov and choreography by Marius Petipa. The dancing, the scenery, the costumes, all were splendid -- though slightly Soviet-style-old-fashioned for my taste.
Next week in Los Angeles at The Music Center, The Mariinsky Ballet will perform a much more contemporary and cutting edge production, Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella, with choreography by the renowned Alexei Ratmansky, a former dancer who, in the last decade, has directed highly acclaimed productions for major ballet companies around the world. Just look at photos of previous performances of this Cinderella... so sharp, so sexy, you don't want to miss it.
Another performance took place last Sunday, this one on the stage of The Getty Center's auditorium. It was a very insightful, and at the same time surprisingly informal conversation between James Cuno, President and CEO of J. Paul Getty Trust, and Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for the NY Times, who just published a new biography of Frank Gehry. The conversation was about the personal doubts and trials, along with the amazing achievements of the 86 year old Gehry, who was honored the following day, on Monday, with the J. Paul Getty Medal.
On Monday night in downtown LA, several thousand people stood in line in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, waiting for the gates to open. That night, Plácido Domingo conducted a free concert in memory of his late sister. For this occasion, he chose to conduct Rossini's liturgical Petite messe solennelle, accompanied by students and alumni of the Colburn Conservatory of Music, along with a chorus and soloists.
So, this past weekend, which started with Medea taking place in Boyle Heights, ended with Rossini in the heart of LA. Indeed, a weekend to remember -- all art, all the time.
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Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of Art Talk, a program on art and culture for NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the complete show and hear Edward's charming Russian accent, click here.