Every great composer is entitled to one fiasco, and Giuseppe Verdi's was Simon Boccanegra. It flopped big-time at its 1857 premiere in Venice. But one era's bomb is another's Boheme, and L.A. Opera's current production of the opera Verdi might have preferred to forget is a memorable occasion, not just for the sumptuous sets and costumes and top-notch cast but for the always remarkable Placido Domingo, who sings the title role not as a tenor but as a baritone — and pulls it off with his usual fiery mastery. Add to that the fact that Placido is 70 — an age when most singers have turned out the lights and gone off to bed — and one is forced to wonder if he's the Energizer Bunny in disguise. Boccanegra is a tragedy along Shakespearean lines, based on the play by Antonio Garcia Gutiérrez about an ex-pirate who ascends the political ladder to become Doge of Venice, only to be destroyed by political intrigue, personal tragedy and eventual betrayal. Domingo first performed the role in 2010, to rave reviews in New York and London, and it's evident that he delights in the lower vocal range — which is no surprise, as he began his singing career as a baritone. "I secretly admired my baritone friends performing the title role," he cheerfully admits. "Boccanegra is one of the most complex, vivid characters in all opera. Not only was it Verdi's favorite among his baritone roles, it is also mine." The primo international cast includes soprano Ana María Martínez, bass Vitalij Kowaljow, baritone Paolo Gavanelli and tenor Stefano Secco. James Conlon conducts. Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sun., Feb. 19 & 26, March 4, 2 p.m.; Tues., Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Thurs., March 1, 7:30 p.m.; thru March 4; $20-$270. (213) 972-8001, laopera.com.
Sun., Feb. 19, 2 p.m.; Tue., Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 26, 2 p.m.; Thu., March 1, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 4, 2 p.m., 2012
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