La Traviata/ Don Carlo 

Wednesday, Sep 6 2006

L.A. Opera’s 2006-2007 season gets off to a roaring start with a double scoop of Verdi: back-to-back productions of Traviata and Don Carlo. Traviata is a special non-subscription all-star revival of the Company’s 1999-2000 production, and heading the impressive cast is that amazing soprano Renee Fleming as the doomed courtesan Violetta, with the brilliant Rolando Villazon doing tenor duty as her smitten amour, Alfredo, and renowned Italian baritone Renato Bruson as the well-meaning meddler Count Germont. The new Ian Judge production of Don Carlo features Salvatore Licitra, the young Italian sensation who’s been dubbed the “fourth tenor,” in the title role, with a fab international cast that includes Annalisa Raspagliosi, Dolora Zajick, Lado Ataneli, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Eric Halfvarson. Making his debut on the podium, by the way, is L.A. Opera’s new music director, James Conlon. Since it’s tough enough to mount one world-class opera, don’t ask me how they’re doing two at once. But I can tell you it’s astronomically expensive, which might explain the $350 seats for Traviata. Or for real big spenders there are $500 premium seats (includes donation to L.A. Opera) and even more pricy opening-night packages; for details, call (213) 972-7581. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Traviata opens Sat., Sept. 9, 6 p.m.; runs Tues., Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m. & Sun., Sept. 17, 2 p.m.; Don Carlo opens Sun., Sept. 10, 4 p.m.; continues Wed., Sept. 13, 7 p.m.; thru Oct. 1.; $35-$500 Traviata; $35-$220 Don Carlo. (213) 972-8001 or www.laopera.com.

—Mary Beth Crain

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