Posted by: operatheaterink | January 28, 2020

Commentary: LA Opera’s 2020-21 Season Without Domingo, Jan. 28, 2020

Gone With the Wind: Not Quite

Placido Domingo in LA Opera’s “Luisa Fernanda” in 2007

By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

It is amazing to me that the artist who has given his life to the Los Angeles Opera could be totally and utterly “Gone With the Wind” to the company that owes most of its successes to him. How soon we forget!

Just four months ago, Plácido Domingo announced that he would be stepping down as the general director of LA Opera when he was accused of harassing some women at various companies, with only a few of the women giving their names out or going on record. Most of the cited occurrences happened many years ago, but since the birth of the #MeToo movement, the occurrences now seemed pertinent for the Associated Press, the LA Times and some American opera companies to address.

I have written numerous commentaries on the issue.

Domingo is an artist and is being unduly almost banned from singing in the United States, whereas in Europe, he is welcomed as the artist he is and praised for his operatic accomplishments.

Unlike Domingo, other opera singers have been labeled with similar lusts, including a non-singer, the president of the United States, but their careers have not been affected.

Domingo has not been charged with any crimes. Verbally asking a woman if she had to go home that night, is hardly an offense. Nothing has been proven, and Domingo has denied a great deal of the accusations.

What matters to me is that Plácido Domingo is a great, great tenor. He will go down in the history books as such. LA Opera owes him more than can be described here, yet as the company announced its 2020-2021 season on a press release dated Jan. 26, it is as if Domingo had died. And the strange thing is that opera season schedules are planned years in advance, so four months hardly would be enough time to delete Domingo from the 2020-21 season at hand. Yet the CEO of LA Opera, Christopher Koelsch, spoke about the upcoming season as if he was the responsible planner on the press release. At least that is what the LA Times wrote, since I was not in attendance when Koelsch announced the season but read the information on a press release. Koelsch did plan and has been responsible for the day-to-day operations of LA Opera for years, but he was not the visual focal point of the company to the public. Domingo was. So I would assume that Domingo was responsible for bringing various star performers to the company’s 2020-2021 roster, and for selecting some of the works scheduled to be performed.

So I guess that when artists die or have been accused of something, they are forgotten. Not so in the case of so many of Domingo’s peers, one being Luciano Pavarotti. But then it may be even more difficult to be alive and see what is happening to your own career in the light of injustice. I personally am grateful to the opera goers in the European countries for their loyalty to Maestro Domingo.

THE 2020-2021 SEASON:

That said, the upcoming LA Opera season looks inventive, creative and extensive.

The new production of “Il Trovatore” starring soprano Angel Blue promises to be a winning opening. Blue is said to be a “superstar soprano” in the press release.

Not yet, but almost.

Blue will have many audience members applauding her because she has really come full circle. I met Blue when she was studying voice from great baritone Vladimir Chernov at UCLA. She went on to be mentored by Domingo in the LA Opera young artist program. Domingo took her under his wing and sang with her all over Europe. She has garnered much support along the way over the last 10 years from artists who saw her potential. She has worked hard and recently sang Bess in “Porgy and Bess” at the Metropolitan Opera to rave reviews in newspapers including the New York Times. Now she is coming home to LA Opera to star in its opening of “Il Trovatore” in the 2020-21 season. Her potential is great, and she is on the road to becoming a soprano superstar. She is a young talented soprano who is a beautiful person and singer both inside and out, and everyone who knows her and has followed her career is very proud of her.

Other artists of the season include tenor Gregory Kunde, Issacheh Savage in Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” Roberto Abbado conducting Stefan Herheim’s production of “La Cenerentola,” Ildebrando D’Arcangelo starring in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” Francesca Zambello directing Verdi’s “Aida,” Harry Bicket conducting the revival of Handel’s baroque “Tamerlano,” and Missy Mazzoli breaking the bounds of new opera with her “Breaking the Waves.”

In addition, longtime great soprano Renée Fleming, a regular at LA Opera, will sing in concert with baritone Rod Gilfry in “The Brightness of Light.” Other performances Off Grand and where LA Opera Connects will also be performed, including “In Our Daughter’s Eyes,” with baritone Nathan Gunn who hasn’t received much acknowledgement on this press release roster, but whose singing and acting were magnificent in LA Opera’s “Magic Flute” a number of years back. He was one of the best Papaganos I have ever heard or seen .

With that said, it is an exciting season to be sure, filled with the old and new. James Conlon will once again conduct a brilliant revival of “Tannhäuser.” The production as I recall it was artistically arresting.

“Breaking the Waves” will be conducted by Grant Gershon and directed by the innovative and creatively masterful James Darrah.

But who really is responsible for the exciting LA Opera season is not discernable: maybe a combination of both Koelsch and Domingo with a little bit of Conlon mixed in. Domingo has said often that he loves LA Opera. It is possible that he has chosen to stay in the background so that the company will move forward in his absence. I cannot imagine the pressures he must have had when he felt obliged to step away from the company he nurtured to maturity.

I only know one thing: Plácido Domingo cannot be forgotten in Los Angeles or by LA Opera. He has left his artistic imprint on the walls of the Music Center and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and they cannot be erased.

For more information about the LA Opera 2020-21 season, go to