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Arts and Entertainment

Classical Pick of the Week: Liebestod

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You've probably heard Beethoven's Ode to Joy, a proclamation for mankind united under God. Hear the Berlioz Requiem in this week's classical pick for another take on that theme. This week's classical pick highlights music that is rarely performed in LA, if at all. The LA Opera begins the 2009/2010 season with Donizetti's bel canto (an elegant Italian vocal style) opera, The Elixir of Love. Although it is frequently performed in major opera houses, this is James Conlon's first bel canto opera, and the first in six years by the LA Opera. Like his contemporary Rossini, Donizetti composed dozens of operas at a fast pace. This particular opera was written in fourteen days, for a group of talentless singers featuring a stuttering tenor. Apparently this was the formula for success; the Elixir of Love is Donizetti's most popular and enduring work. Giuseppe Filianoti debuts as the peasant Nemorino. who is head over heels in love with with Adina (played by Nino Machaidze in her US debut), a wealthy landowner, who is engaged to be wed to a handsome soldier the very next day. The first performance takes place this Saturday at 6 PM, with repeat performances on the 15th, 20th, 22nd, 25th, 27th, and the 30th. For more information, click here.

The Hollywood Bowl begins with the return of Bramwell Tovey to the conductor's podium (his second stint since his performances with the NY Phil this July). For the last real classical concert of the Summer season (excluding this weekend's finale/fireworks), Tovey takes on an ambitious task of performing the Berlioz Requiem. The Requiem (a mass for the dead) is not only monumental in the length and difficulty of the piece, but the size of the orchestra and choir(often numbering over 400). Like Beethoven, Berlioz imagined this piece for mankind united at last, but united on the last day of Judgment. This is reflected in the somber tone of the piece, especially in the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). Tickets are still available, and if you've never seen a Requiem performed live, this is a great primer. For more information, click here. This performance is on Thursday, and like other Bowl concerts, this one starts at 8 PM.

In other news, the Bowl has a concert this Tuesday featuring British composers Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and Britten, with LA Phil concertmaster Martin Chalifour as the soloist. This weekend the Bowl concludes the season with a fireworks finale featuring the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.