"Luisa Fernanda" starring Placido Domingo at the LA Opera- review


Luisa Fernanda
, an operetta by Spanish composer Federico Moreno Torroba, opened at the LA Opera this Sunday, June 3rd.  This production is the result of the collaborative efforts of Teatro Real, Madrid, LA Opera and Washington National Opera. Dedicated to presenting zarzuela true to form, well-known Spaniards with ties to the Teatro de La Zarzuela in Spain constitute the majority of the creative team responsible for bringing this production to the stage. 

 Zarzuela specialist Miguel Roa, the current musical director of the Teatro de La Zarzuela in Spain, was chosen to conduct this production.  Director Emilio Sagi, also noted for his experience with zarzuela among other operatic styles, has captured the authentic spirit of this romantic Spanish masterpiece.  Spanish natives Maria Jose Montiel and Placido Domingo take the leading roles heading a cast sure to make this presentation a musical and visual success.

Since joining the LA Opera, we Angeleno's are now accustomed to considering Placido Domingo ours, and his appearance as Vidal in Luis Fernanda is a highly anticipated treat. Opera enthusiasts are truly fortunate to have the opportunity to see enjoy this legendary star in Luisa Fernanda.  His first appearance on stage was received with a round of excited applause by the audience.

Luisa Fernanda
belongs to the genre known as zarzuela, the Spanish version of the operetta, which flourished in the early 20th century.  The use of a mix of classical and popular music, as well as their use of humorous and serious spoken dialogue, appealed to a wide audience. After its debut in 1932, Luisa Fernanda enjoyed both popular support and critical acclaim.

Set in 1860's Spain against the backdrop of revolutionary upheaval, Luisa Fernanda intertwines politics with personal lives. The plot revolves around the relationship between the title character interpreted by Maria Jose Montiel, and the wealthy farmer Vidal Hernando.  To win the love of the beautiful young Luisa Fernanda, he would do anything even fight to the death if necessary.  Passion, politics, and epic emotions intertwine with personal lives against the spectacle of 1860s revolutionary Spain.

 Opening night did not include Maria Jose Montiel - she was replaced by Puerto Rican Yali-Marie Williams in her LA Opera debut performance.  While the chemistry between Williams and Placido Domingo was slow to start, they built on their relationship beautifully and drew everyone into their unfortunate predicament by the final act.  The people to watch are Javier and Duchess Carolina (played by Antonio Gandia and Elena de la Merced) who have wonderful chemistry and memorable lyrics throughout the entire operetta.

The sets were minimal yet complementary to the beautiful costume designs of  Pepa Ojanguren.  Festive crowd scenes brought the simple stage to life and took us back to the days of the revolutionary movement in Spain.  The final scene, dominated by a large verdant tree, flows with the growing storyline.  In the final scene in which Maria Fernanda reveals her true feelings, everything comes together to leave the audience feeling satisfied-like finishing a wonderful full course meal.

Luisa Fernanda is definitely worth a visit to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  It will be on stage from Sunday June 3rd through Saturday June 16th.  

Go to www.losangelesopera.com or call (213) 972-8001.

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